The Different Uses of BSW & MSW Social Workers in Providing Child Welfare Services

BSW & MSW graduates have important but different roles to play in CPS, where a wide array of responsibilities, demands many skills and functional competencies to perform essential activities (Rittner & Wodarski p. 234) . BSW and MSW graduates each possess a distinctive set of skills and knowledge that provide them with the ability to provide selective interventions and services within the realm of Child Welfare.

BSW Social Workers

  • Generalist practice prepares students for work as hot-line screeners, foster-care case managers, and case workers with low-to-moderate risk families, and to recruit, screen, and train potential foster and adoptive parents (Rittner & Wodarski p. 217)
  • Generally identified with entry level child welfare positions (Rittner & Wodarski p. 218)
  • Curriculum- They are informed about federal, state, and local policies regarding mandated services for children and their families (Rittner & Wodarski p. 218)
  • They are taught to perform basic practice skills of engagement, interviewing, assessment, and problem-oriented interventions (Rittner & Wodarski p. 219)



MSW Social Workers

  • Advanced generalist practice prepares students to conduct initial investigations, working with high-risk families, terminating parental rights, placing children with adoptive families, and serving administrative and supervisory roles (Rittner & Wodarski p. 217)
  • More closely identified with clinical and managerial positions (Rittner & Wodarski p. 218)
  • Differs from the BSW due to the depth & breadth & specificity of knowledge that they are expected to synthesize and apply in practice (Rittner & Wodarski p. 219)
  • Many MSW programs offer focused course content on services and practice orientations that are directly related to assessing and intervening with maltreating families at both micro-macro level (Rittner & Wodarski p. 219)


Rittner, B., & Wodarski, J. (1999). Differential uses for BSW and MSW educated social     workers in child welfare services. Children and Youth Services Review, 21(3),                         217-235.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s