For many, the phrase “working in child welfare” conjures up touching images– rocking babies, getting hugs from toddlers, saving children from unsavory fates…and yes, sometimes, that fits. But ask anyone who’s been working in child welfare for awhile what it’s like, and you’re bound to get some very different answers.

Abrazo’s child welfare professionals could tell some crazy tales of child placement adventures over the years. Child welfare workers routinely get praised by some and cursed by others, after all. Our work has taken us across the US and beyond. Abrazo’s staff has done homestudy interviews for an American celebrity in Italy,  presented open adoption seminars in Brussels and Sydney, and been featured at an adoption conference in Germany. Our work has taken us to trap houses and methadone clinics, to churches and courthouses, to jails and colleges and hospitals all across Texas, at any hour of the day or night that we’re needed– wherever and whenever there’s a child in need. 

The Why & How of Working in Child Welfare

There are many different job options for anyone interested in working in child welfare, from direct practice to administrative/management to legislative advocacy .

In the public sector, child welfare jobs tend to have more staff turnover, particularly amongst the child protection division or investigations or licensing regulation. In the private sector, working in child welfare typically entails employment in foster care programs, therapeutic intervention sites or private adoption agencies, and understandably, the turnover may be lower where job satisfaction runs higher.

Most professional child welfare positions do require at least a Bachelor’s degree in a human services field. (That means getting a degree in any number of fields, like psychology or sociology or child development or social work or family studies.) A Master’s degree in social work, psychology or counseling may help ensure a wider range of job options with higher pay and even some benefits– especially for those who get licensed. (Those with the coveted LMSW credential can typically expect to earn anywhere from $45k to $120k, according to Zip Recruiter.) Those weary of academia need not hurry to add a doctorate to their resume, as it may do little to enhance social services opportunities, unless one seeks to become a college professor, go into private practice or build a reputation as an expert witness in court cases.

So What’s the Downside?

Nationwide, child welfare workers put their lives on the line every day, in ways most were never prepared to expect in college. Those on the frontlines of Child Protective Services battle burnout because they can’t fix nor unsee the damage that gets done to kids’ souls or bodies by the people who were supposed to look out for them.

Others working in child welfare help to shelter homeless teens, restore faith in humanity for trafficking victims, supervise kids in lockdown facilities, or serve as surrogate guardians for “unaccompanied minors” whose immigration dreams made them political fodder.

Still others search (often in vain) for loving adoptive families for the thousands of children, teens and sibling groups who’ve been freed for adoption but will likely “age out of the system” if nobody wants them because they’re no longer infants. Those are the real rockstars working in child welfare.

And then, there are those of us who are privileged to work in the private child welfare sector. We enjoy homey offices instead of stark cubicles, and our clients choose to use our services voluntarily, which makes a big difference. We have an attorney and paralegal who truly care about the kids we serve..Our agency’s private foster family provides loving care for children who come to Abrazo unexpectedly, unlike the CPS workers who have to do overnight babysitting in motels because there’s no safe place for the overflow of kids in their care.

Devoting a Career to Child Welfare

One thing is for sure, though: nobody who devotes their entire career to child welfare and does it right ever gets rich off it– nor should we. True child welfare professionals consider this work a calling, not a job. And at Abrazo, we’re genuinely grateful to have some of the best of them.

Take Jan, for example. An Army colonel who’d been a maxillofacial surgeon, she retired and promptly went to grad school for yet another degree, this one in counseling. Jan could have sought a lucrative job as a doctor or therapist. But being an adoptive mother, too, Jan has a special place in her heart for adoptees, adoptive families and for birthparents. So Jan chose to volunteer at Abrazo during the Covid epidemic, and she’s stayed on ever since, faithfully coming to the office every week to lend support to the cause, because she truly cares.

Ask any kid who comes to Abrazo who the “coolest grownup” is, and they’ll point to the gal known around here as “LaLa.” She earned her Master’s degree in counseling under the name of Lauranda, yet it’s her commitment to the welfare of kids (her own daughter included) that compels her to make adoption better for others. Then there’s Ximena, who’s done homestudies and post-placement supervision for Abrazo for more than seven years– but that’s not all. Ximena has such a passion for child welfare that she works daily to also better the lives of countless grade school students. (And that’s in addition to her private counseling practice.)

See why Abrazo is undoubtedly blest to have the staff that we do? Working in child welfare is a job that takes unconditional dedication so that all of Abrazo’s kids (from 1994 through the present) can always come home to find the answers they need from professionals they trust. 


close slider

24-Hour Birthparent HelpLine
for New Placing Parents/Medical Emergencies

Placing parents calling from Texas or surrounding states:

Placing parents calling from outside Texas, please call collect:
210-342-LOVE (5683)

Placing parents text:


Mailing address:

3123 Northwest Loop 410
San Antonio, TX 78230