Parkway School District Teacher of the Year, St. Louis, MO
T he 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.
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. The family is 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 direct as well as indirect 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.
SERVICES TO STUDENTS:
- Providing crisis intervention.
- Developing intervention strategies to increase academic success.
- 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.
SERVICES TO PARENT/FAMILIES:
- 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.
SERVICES TO SCHOOL PERSONNEL:
- 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.
- 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.
Used with permission from Dot Kontak, LCSW, SSWS (2003, Rev. 2012).
Director of Communications, School Social Work Association of America
(Click here to download PDF Version.)
See Additional Resources Regarding the Role of School Social Workers
Please feel free to download and use the following documents to assist with understanding the many services that School Social Workers are uniquely trained to provide.
Elements of School Social Work: Learn some of the elements of School Social Work Services. One page bulleted quick glance regarding the role and services areas School Social Workers address. (1 page)
Frameworks of School Social Work. Systems level framework for School Social Work Services. (1 page)
In April, 2013 SSWAA joined the National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of School Psychologists, American School Counselor’s Association, National Association of School Resource Officers to develop A Framework for Safe and Successful Schools This document outlines the various roles that we each play in schools. (16 pages)
Overview of School Based Mental Health Services Joint document regarding School Based Mental Health by the School Social Work Association of America, the American School Counselors Association and the National Association of School Psychologists