Forensic social workers perform a vital public service in guiding their clients through the daunting and ever-changing legal system. These professionals possess a firm grasp of the civil, criminal and juvenile justice systems, along with a profound understanding of how socioeconomic, cultural, religious, and other aspects of their clients' lives may impact access to legal services.
To meet a growing national interest in forensics (the application of physical science, mental health, technology and the legal system) and a growing recognition of the complex interplay between social, clinical, and legal services, the Department of Health and Human Services offers a 15-credit New York State Advanced Certificate in Forensic Social Work concentration.
The Advanced Certificate in Forensic Social Work will prepare you to:
Practice in various capacities within law enforcement, courts, correctional facilities, mental health hospitals, victim assistance programs and the juvenile justice system.
Work with various populations, including those affected by child-custody issues involving separation, divorce, neglect and termination of parental rights; domestic violence; mental incapacity and criminal and juvenile justice systems.
Provide research or testimony in civil court cases and legal proceedings.
The certificate program will prepare you to apply the principles of social work to the legal system, including applicable local, state and federal laws; civil and criminal courts and the juvenile justice system; law enforcement agencies; and correctional facilities. Your clients may be children or adults, individuals or families, organizations or communities. Their legal difficulties may involve child custody and parental rights issues due to domestic violence and neglect and crimes relating to mental illness and substance abuse. They may face arrest and incarceration, be imprisoned or hospitalized, or be on probation or parole.
The Forensic Social Work concentration prepares you to serve all of these populations, by identifying societal issues and their impact on your clients; screening, assessing and counseling your clients; planning and implementing interventions; making client referrals; and otherwise serving as effective advocates for diverse and at-risk clients.