Foster-care coordinators are social workers who work with youths in foster care. Titles may vary from agency to agency and may include titles such as case manager, case worker, consultant or coordinator. Most often, coordinators provide support to children and youths in a treatment foster-care setting in a private or non-profit agency. Foster-care coordinators frequently work with youths with persistent mental illness, serious behavioral problems or adjudicated youth.
The foster-care coordinator is responsible to assess and coordinate the care of youths in foster care to ensure that the youth is receiving adequate services. The coordinator develops a plan for treatment or services for the youth and oversees the implementation of the service plan. Foster-care coordinators may review billing or documentation from foster parents and other service providers. The coordinator writes case documentation and progress reports for the appropriate local, county and state agencies.
Foster-care coordinators and other social workers require a wide range of skills to perform their work. Critical skills include strong oral and written communication skills, ability to develop rapport with others, problem-solving, reasoning, stamina and ability to quickly evaluate and assess a situation. Fluency in a second language is an asset.
Required Education and Training
Many small or non-profit agencies will accept a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, sociology or other related field to qualify for the position of foster-care coordinator. However, a master’s degree is preferred in small or non-profit agencies and often required for larger or public agencies. Additional training in cultural awareness, person-centered planning, child development and parenting are encouraged.
Foster-care coordinators alternate time between office work and field work. Time is often split between completing paperwork and meeting with community partners in the office setting and traveling to conduct home visits, meet with schools, counselors and other service providers. Work hours may be somewhat irregular with some evening and weekends necessary to meet with clients or respond to emergencies.
Job and Earnings Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment in social work jobs is expected to increase through 2018. Jobs for social workers serving children and families, which includes foster-care coordinators, are expected to increase at least 12 percent. As of 2008, child and family social workers earned between $31,040 and $52,080.