Emphasis in Family Social Services

Emphasis in Family Social Services

If you seek entry-level employment in family service, family life education, mental health or community welfare agencies which serve primarily older children, adolescents, adults, couples, and/or the elderly, this emphasis is for you. It is recommended as preparation for advanced degrees in social work, human development and family sciences, marriage and family therapy, and related fields.

Areas of Study and Credentials

As a graduate of the Family Social Services emphasis, you are eligible to apply for the Illinois Gateways Family Specialist Credential. This credential allows you to be a competitive applicant for a variety of community agencies that serve children and families in Illinois. Acquiring the Illinois Gateways Family Special Credential might be especially helpful for students desiring to become family case workers, parent educators, or family advocates.

Our distinctive areas of study in Family Social Services will prepare you for careers in child welfare, family life education, leadership in agencies and clinics, as well as preparation for graduate school to pursue training to become a marriage and family therapist, licensed professional counselor, or social worker.

If you are interested in careers serving in a career in child protection services and social work, you can choose the child welfare services area of study, which will prepare you positively impact the lives of children and families. Northern Illinois University is one of 15 universities in partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Students will be trained in the department’s placement/permanency foundation training curriculum.

If you are interested in providing prevention (e.g., relationship education) and intervention (e.g., mental health; couple and family therapy) to individuals, couples, and families this would be an ideal area of study to pursue. Generally, students in this area of study are preparing for graduate school to be trained to become a marriage and family therapist, licensed professional counselor or social worker. Students are encouraged to consider applying to the NIU Master’s Program in Marriage and Family Therapy.

This area of study prepares you for leadership positions at agencies and clinics focused on promoting the well-being of individuals, couples and families. Special attention is given to preparing students to work with ethnically diverse children and families. Courses in this area of study also can help you prepare to advocate for family policy at the local, state and federal levels.

Family Social Services Internship

One of the unique aspects of the Family Social Services emphasis is the requirement of acquiring volunteer hours and completing an internship at a community agency or clinic that serves individuals, couples, and families. Volunteer work helps students to become involved with different client populations and agency functions. Volunteering can provide meaningful experiences for career exploration and for locating a potential internship site.

Certified Family Life Educator

As a graduate from the Human Development and Family Sciences program you can qualify for becoming a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) through the National Council on Family Relations. The Human Development and Family Sciences program at NIU is a CFLE-Approved Program which can qualify you for provisional certification as a family life educator if you complete the required courses while you are in the program. Without taking the required CFLE courses you can also qualify to become a CFLE by taking an exam. For more information on becoming a CFLE.

Other Opportunities

Students in Family Social Services have many options to connect and learn across campus and within their home communities. The college is home to a variety of student groups and activities, including those focused on philanthropy as well as on family and child development. We encourage you to become involved early in your college career to volunteer and work with individuals, couples, and families. For instance, you may want to consider working part-time at the Child Development and Family Center. In addition, you will have opportunities to pursue further study in Family Social Services each year through the University Honors ProgramOffice of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning (OSEEL) and NIU minors and certificates.

Contact Us

Family and Consumer Sciences
118 Wirtz Hall
DeKalb, IL 60115

Kristine Radtke
Program Coordinator

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