Child, Adult, and Family Services

As communities adapt to changing statewide and national demographics, the Child, Adult, and Family Services major will prepare you to work with people from the very young to the very old. You will help them learn skills and strategies in education, child care, youth development, family interaction, conflict resolution, and addiction/abuse treatment. For individuals and families facing life’s challenge, such as alcohol or substance abuse, immigration, family conflict, and death, finding support can be difficult. Students graduating with a degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services are trained to help people of all ages cope and conquer obstacles in order to lead a better, more fulfilling life.


Program Information

Curriculum Requirements

Child Adult and Family Services curriculum requirements and program options

General Education Selections


  • Child program: An option in the child program will prepare you to work with very young children, ages birth to 8 years, developing parental education programs, providing quality child care, advising families on critical issues, preventing child abuse, and advocating for child-friendly legislation.
  • Youth program: The youth program option curriculum focuses on adolescents and young adults, with course work in family interaction, special needs education, and adolescent development. Graduates have found their career niches as youth service providers, 4-H coordinators, halfway-house managers, and juvenile court probation officers.
  • Adult/family program: In the adult/family program option, you will be knowledgeable in the areas of family development and theory, conflict resolution, and abuse treatment. Potential career paths include adoption/foster care specialist, addiction counselor, and program/activity coordinator.

4-year Plans

4-year plans for all Child Adult and Family Services program options

How to Prepare for this Program

Volunteer at organizations that serve children, youth, families, and older adults.

Related Majors and Minors

Early Childhood Education

Family Financing, Housing, and Policy

Event Management




Criminal justice

Accelerated Degree Option

An accelerated degree option is available for the child, adult, and family services program.

Get Involved

Learning Communities

Learning communities connect students with social and learning activities that extend well beyond the classroom. Students in many communities take a few courses together, get to know upperclassmen peer mentors, study together as a group, do service projects, and gather just for fun. Human Development and Family Studies Learning Community

Clubs and Organizations

Connect with people who share similar interests across the ISU campus.

Kappa Omicron Nu

Human Development and Family Studies Club

Human Development and Family Studies Graduate Student Network

Careers and Internships


Careers working with children:

  • Preschool teacher
  • Childcare administrator
  • Foster care or adoption specialist
  • Child advocate
  • Volunteer coordinator for child services
  • Child service organization director
  • Grief counselor

Careers working with youth:

  • Volunteer youth services coordinator
  • Youth services organization executive director
  • Youth services organization program consultant
  • Adolescent pregnancy preventionist
  • Addiction specialist
  • Grief counselor
  • Homeless youth outreach coordinator
  • Youth counselor
  • Youth services director
  • Juvenile court officer
  • Camp counselor

Careers working with families and adults:

  • Addiction counselor
  • Adoption/foster care specialist
  • Program coordinator
  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Organization executive director
  • Organization program consultant
  • Parent educator
  • Grief counselor
  • Protective service worker
  • Family planning consultant

Career Services

Students and alumni are eligible to contact career services in the College of Human Sciences for assistance in these areas:

  • Job search materials such as resumes and cover letters
  • Job and internship search strategies
  • Interviewing skills


Students majoring in child, adult, and family services are required to complete a 320-360 hour internship during their senior year with the goal of applying the knowledge learned in the classroom to a work setting. Students find and choose an internship site themselves with the support and guidance from the HDFS department internship coordinator. Internships can be completed in Iowa, out of state, and even internationally. More » View Child, Adult, and Family Services student internship experiences at Career Connections.


Brenda Lohman, an associate professor in Human Development and Family Studies, is leading the Three-City Teacher Survey (TCTS), which supplements the assessment of economic, academic, and social competencies among low-income, urban children and adolescents who face multiple family and community risks. She, along with other faculty members in HDFS, use examples of ongoing research to enhance classroom learning. Learn more about HDFS faculty research. HDFS faculty list


The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is housed in the Palmer Building, which is also home to the ISU Child Development Laboratory School and the Financial Counseling Clinic. In addition to these facilities, students will have access high tech classrooms, computer labs, and the Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching (CTLT).