Helping and protecting kids in dangerous situations, child protection professionals typically work for government agencies from the local level to the national level. Specially trained social workers, child protection professionals undergo thorough training but can opt to gain additional knowledge and legitimacy in the field through certification. While not required for employment, most employers prefer hiring child protection professionals with some type of child protection certification.
Narrow Down the Choices
Earning a child protection designation starts by choosing a certification provider. Depending on where you live, your state may offer certification programs, like the Georgia Department of Human Resources and the Florida Board of Certification. If your state doesn't offer certification, you can choose a designation from an international or national organization, like the International Association for Child Safety and the National Association of Counsel for Children. Some providers offer more than one type of credential, so you'll have to decide what type of certification to earn based on your qualifications and specific job roles. For example, the FBC, has three designations -- Child Welfare Case Manager, Child Protective Investigator and Child Welfare Licensing Counselor.
Meet the Criteria
Each certification program sets its own eligibility requirements that candidates must meet. Generally, you'll have to submit an application, pay an application fee and earn a certain number of years of professional experience or have a certain educational degree. For example, for each of the credentials the FCB offers, it mandates that all candidates have a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related degree field and successfully pass a Florida Level 2 background check. Some providers have requirements beyond education and experience. The IACS, for example, only certifies candidates who meet the education requirements as well as pass a background check and adhere to a code of ethics. Other eligibility requirements providers typically ask for include employment with child protection or child welfare organizations and submitting letters of recommendations from other child protection professionals.
After jumping the eligibility hurdle, you can move on to the assessment portion of certification. Assessment can come in the form of taking certification courses, passing a certification exam or a combination of the two. The Florida Department of Families and Children, for example, mandates that applicants complete 120 hours of instruction through a certification training program. The NACC, on the other hand, only requires a certification exam. Other methods of assessment that providers use include participating in field work and case studies.
Apply for Renewal
A certification holder must take care to maintain her designation by renewing every few years, generally every one to five years. The renewal process typically includes submitting a renewal application, paying the recertification fee and fulfilling a minimum number of hours of continuing education credits. The FBC and GDHR both require renewal every year by earning at least 20 CE credits during each 12-month renewal period. CE credits come from traditional classroom and online courses, participating in industry workshops and seminars and teaching activities.
- National Association of Counsel for Children: Certification
- International Association for Child Safety: Certification
- Georgia Department of Human Resources: Child Protection Certification
- Florida Board of Certification: Florida Child Welfare Certification Information
- Florida Department of Children and Families: Florida Child Care Professional Credential Training Program
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