“I cannot teach the head when the heart is broken or the mind is troubled”
Parkway School District Teacher of the Year, St. Louis, MO
The best teachers with the biggest teaching “bag of tricks”, recognize that numerous factors interfere with their ability to reach many of their students. Children today are increasingly victims of many social forces that negatively affect their role as students. Many families are in a state of change and until it becomes stabilized, in whatever form, children’s unmet physical and emotional needs will continue to interfere with their ability to learn and adjust in school.
- School social work is a specialized area of practice within the broad field of the social work profession.
- School social workers bring unique knowledge and skills to the school system and the student services team.
- School Social Workers are trained mental health professionals who can assist with mental health concerns, behavioral concerns, positive behavioral support, academic and classroom support, consultation with teachers, parents and administrators as well as provide individual and group counseling/therapy.
- School social workers are instrumental in furthering the mission of the schools which is to provide a setting for teaching, learning, and for the attainment of competence and confidence.
- School social workers are hired by school districts to enhance the district’s ability to meet its academic mission, especially where home, school and community collaboration is the key to achieving student success.
“We need to get in there and do the work. We may do our work in a classroom, at a table, under a table, outside of a home on the front porch or through a screened door. We may do our work with puppets and clay or graffiti and spoken word, before school or during lunch…nonetheless, we do the work.”
Heather Alden, 2012 National School Social Worker of the Year
SCHOOL SOCIAL WORK SERVICES
WHY do today’s schools need School Social Workers?
Children today are increasingly victims of many social forces that negatively affect their role as students. School social workers can assess the root causes of student dysfunction including the context of the family. Families are often in a state of change and until it becomes stabilized, in whatever form, children’s unmet physical and emotional needs will continue to interfere with their ability to learn and adjust in school.
WHO are School Social Workers?
School Social Workers are trained mental health professionals with a degree in social work who provide services related to a person’s social, emotional and life adjustment to school and/or society. School Social Workers are the link between the home, school and community in providing assessment, consultation, and counseling/therapy as well as facilitating and coordinating school and community services to students, families and school personnel to promote and support students’ academic and social success.
WHAT are some of the specific services that School Social Workers provide?
- Participating in special education assessment meetings as well as individual Educational Planning Meetings
- Working with those problems in a child’s living situation that affect the child’s adjustment in school. (home, school, and community)
- Preparing a social or developmental history on a child with a disability.
- Counseling (group, individual and/or family)
- Mobilizing family, school, and community resources to enable the child to learn as effectively as possible in his or her educational program
- Assisting in developing positive behavioral intervention strategies.
- Assessing and addressing the “root causes” of student dysfunction.
- Developing intervention strategies to increase academic success.
- Providing crisis intervention.
- Assisting with conflict resolution and anger management.
- Helping the child develop appropriate social interaction skills.
- Assisting the child in understanding and accepting self and others.
- Working with parents to facilitate their support in their children’s school adjustment.
- Alleviating family stress to enable the child to function more effectively in school &community.
- Assisting parents to access programs available to students with special needs.
- Assisting parents in accessing and utilizing school and community resources.
- Providing staff with essential information to better understand factors (cultural, societal, economic, familial, health, etc.) affecting a student’s performance and behavior.
- Assessing students with mental health concerns.
- Developing staff in-service training programs.
- Assisting teachers with behavior management.
- Providing direct support to staff.
- Obtaining and coordinating community resources to meet students’ needs.
- Helping school districts receive adequate support from social and mental health agencies.
- Advocating for new and improved community/school service to meet the needs of students and families.
- Helping the system respond effectively to each child’s needs.
SERVICES TO DISTRICTS:
- Assist in developing and implementing educational programs for children for exceptional children
- Developing alternative programs for drop-outs, truants, delinquents, etc.
- Identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect.
- Providing consultation regarding school law and school policy including IDEA and Section 504.
- Providing case management for students and families requiring multiple resources.
Contributed to SSWAA by Dot Kontak, LCSW, SSWS (Rev. 2022).(Click here to download PDF Version.)
See more School Social Work Role resources.