Child and Family Development

Western Michigan University's child and family development program will prepare you to work with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school-age children and their families in a variety of settings. This program meets state of Michigan requirements for child care center directors. Recent graduates hold positions with Great Start, Migrant Head Start and YWCA; in child development centers, youth programs, alternative education settings, hospitals and faith-based organizations; and as early childhood educators, child life specialists and parent educators.

The child and family development program offers flexibility, allowing you to complete the coursework for your major in person at the main Kalamazoo campus, online, or a hybrid mix of in person and online. This is not a teachable major. If you are seeking a teaching certification as an Early Childhood Specialist with a ZS endorsement, visit the elementary education and early childhood education program pages.

As a child and family development student at WMU, you will study:

  • How families work.
  • The inter-relationship of families and society.
  • Human growth and development across the life span.
  • The physiological and psychological aspects of human sexuality.
  • The impact of resource management on daily life.
  • The importance and value of education for parenting.
  • The effect of policy and legislation on families.
  • Ethical considerations in professional conduct.
  • How to teach and develop curriculum for varied settings.

Beyond the classroom

If you decide to study child and family development at WMU, you will extend your academic work with on-the-job training in a child care, human service or nonprofit organization. You will independently locate a site that fits with your long-term career goals, and your program will be supervised by WMU faculty in cooperation with management personnel in the field.

The Family Studies student organization provides opportunities for you to interact with peers, hone leadership skills and serve the community. During meetings and service projects, you will network and learn about career paths and job opportunities.

After you graduate

WMU's child and family development program has been approved by the National Council on Family Relations and graduates may choose to become Certified Family Life Educators—CFLE. This certification enhances employment opportunities and verifies professional credibility for educators who work with families.

Recent WMU graduates with degrees in child and family development are working as:

  • Child life specialists
  • Early childhood educators
  • Family educators
  • Family service field associates
  • Family specialists
  • Parent educators
  • Parent involvement specialists
  • Program administrators, executives and directors
  • Program lead teachers for preschoolers, infants and toddlers

Among the organizations they work for are:

  • Adoption and foster care agencies
  • Alternative education settings
  • Child care centers
  • Child development centers
  • Community health centers
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Faith-based and religious organizations
  • Family-focused agencies
  • Great Start (non-teaching)
  • Head Start
  • Hospitals and health care facilities
  • Youth programs
  • YWCA

Career Outcomes

Where is this program offered?

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