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

In the Children, Youth and Families (CYF) 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

Working adults who need flexible scheduling may decide to pursue a Part-Time MSW with this concentration. Learn more about the curriculum structure and application process.

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)
  • Exploring Community School Models (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
  • FamilyForward
  • Parents as Teachers
  • The Little Bit Foundation
  • Wyman Center
  • Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls
  • Kids in the Middle
  • The School District of University City
  • East St. Louis School District 189
  • Parkway School District
  • School District of Clayton
Concentration Chair: Lorien Carter

Concentration Chair

Trish Kohl is an associate professor at the Brown School where she teaches social work policy and practice courses within the CYF concentration. Her scholarship, which is informed by a decade of social work practice experience in public and non-profit settings, is focused on understanding children’s experiences within the context of families and their environment, and on adapting and implementing empirically supported interventions to improve child well-being outcomes for diverse populations within a broad range of service settings.

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. Fom there, I moved to global child welfare advocacy work. Every day I use skills learned at the Brown School to bridge policy to practice and see healing for our communities.”

—Ian Anand Forber-Pratt, MSW ’11
CEO, Institute for Child Welfare Innovation; Director Of Global Advocacy, Children's Emergency Relief International