Children, Youth and Families Concentration | Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
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Children, Youth and Families Concentration

In this concentration, students develop an understanding of how multiple systems impact child development and family functioning over time.

Utilizing evidence-based decision making, students learn to identify and apply sound approaches that bring positive change at the individual, family, agency, community or policy levels. The flexibility of the Children, Youth and Families curriculum allows students to focus on their particular area of interest.

Students are prepared for a broad range of career paths in areas including direct practice, community development, policy, advocacy, research and evaluation or leadership roles within publicly funded or nonprofit agencies.


Predesigned tracks within the concentration ensure preparation for your desired career. The tracks also streamline decisions about course selection. Students choose one of the following:

  • Direct Practice
  • School Social Work
  • Urban Education

Concentration Requirements: 21 Credits

  • Theoretical and Empirical Basis for Practice with Children, Youth and Families (3 credits)
  • Policy and Services for Children and Youth (3 credits)
  • Nine credits of practice-focused coursework, to be determined based on your track of choice
  • Three credits of leadership- and management-focused coursework
  • Social Policy Analysis and Evaluation (3 credits) or Evaluation of Programs and Services (3 credits)

You will also have 9 elective credits, which can be used to broaden expertise in other areas or to pursue additional CYF-related electives, such as:

  • Core Concepts in Trauma Treatment for Children and Adolescents (3 credits)
  • Child Maltreatment Prevention (3 credits)
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (3 credits)

Concentration Practicum

The MSW program requires 600 hours of concentration practicum (in addition to 360 hours of foundation practicum). The concentration practicum must take place in an agency that serves children, youth and/or families.

Sample CYF practicum sites include:

  • Father’s Support Center
  • Great Circle
  • Jane Doe Advocacy Center
  • Nurses for Newborns
  • Parents as Teachers
  • The Little Bit Foundation
  • Wyman Center
Concentration Chair: Lorien Carter

Interim Concentration Chair

Lorien Carter is an associate professor of practice at the Brown School where she teaches social work practice and administration courses. She has over a decade of experience working directly with adolescents in school and health care settings and continues to be active in the field by writing curriculum for youth serving organizations and facilitating trainings related to adolescent development, group work facilitation, logic models and team building.  

Ian Anand Forber-Pratt

Featured Graduate

“The Children, Youth and Families concentration has given me the tools I needed to be successful. After graduating I moved to India to start my dream organization, Foster Care India. Every day I use skills learned at the Brown School on our road to strengthen family-based care in a country of over 1.2 billion people.”

—Ian Anand Forber-Pratt, MSW ’11, National Program Director /Director of Evidence & Advocacy, Centre of Excellence in Alternative Care of Children