The Top Five Reasons to Work for Child Protective Services
When children fall victim to violent crime or abuse in the home; friends, family members, teachers and concerned citizens seek the assistance of Child Protective Services, or CPS. It’s then the job of a CPS agent to determine if the claim of child abuse is legitimate, and work with local law enforcement and the child’s parents to create a safe environment, whether it’s inside the home or through foster care. There’s no denying this is a stressful career, but beyond this there are several reasons to pursue employment with your local Child Protective Services agency. Here are the Top Five:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the potential job growth for direct-service social workers, including those employed with Child Protective Services, is favorable. The expected rate of growth through 2020 is nearly 25 percent, which is faster than average for the majority of occupations. Social workers in general are notoriously plagued by budgetary constraints, but the continued need for CPS agents to investigate claims of child abuse, and place children with adoptive parents and in the foster care system, will ensure that CPS agencies will continue to hire. Aside from CPS, the need for social workers within certain school districts is on the rise. The BLS asserts this is because school enrollment in many states continues to rise.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for social workers was $42,480/year in May, 2010. More specifically, the average annual salary for those working for individual and family services agencies, including CPS, is around $35,120. Compensation for direct-service social workers also varies depending on location. For instance, many of the highest-paid CPS agents live in Houston, and can earn upwards of $41,000 per year.
Opportunities for Additional Education
Earning an advanced degree will have a direct effect on a Child Protective Service agent’s job placement, growth potential and salary. This is why earning your Masters of Social Work, or MSW, is crucial. If you’re currently employed with your local CPS office, and wish to advance in your present career without stepping down to part-time status or taking a leave of absence, consider earning your taking online courses. Many times, your employer will pay for a portion of your advanced degree or continued education classes in the fields of social work and psychology. If this is the case, ask your employer about their policy, and your post-graduation MSW employment opportunities.
Not everyone is built to work a typical 9-to-5 office job. A large portion of working within the confines of CPS is paperwork, but you’re also afforded the opportunity to work nontraditional hours and spend a large portion of this time in the field. You must also be prepared for the unfortunate reality that many understaffed CPS agencies face on a daily basis. You’ll sometimes be expected to work long hours, and assume the responsibility of a commanding case load. With this comes the satisfaction of a job well done, and the assurance your hours won’t be cut, which is the fate of workers in several other fields.
A Sense of Purpose
Far beyond job security, expected employment rates and the potential to earn a competitive salary, working with Child Protective Services offers you the unique opportunity to actually make a difference in a child’s life. There will be days when you witness horrific atrocities, and are forced to work with children who have been suffering at the hands of an abusive family or parents for several years. It’s your duty as a CPS agent to see past all of the heartache and work as an advocate for that abused child. Your dedication will be rewarded when you see that abused child placed with a new loving family.
Similar Occupational Possibilities
There are several other occupations with job descriptions similar to that of a CPS agent, and also possess positive potential job growth. These include:
- Rehabilitation Counselors
- Probation Officers
- Correctional Treatment Specialists
- Career and School Counselors
- Social Service Assistants
- Social Service Managers
- Marriage and Family Therapists
Child Protective Services is a demanding occupation, and not a career choice to be taken lightly. Research the CPS agency in your area to determine if there are job opportunities available after college, and if earning your Master’s degree in Social Work, or a related field, is a wise financial investment.