ABOUT SCHOOL SOCIAL WORK
Who are school social workers?
School social workers are specialized instructional support personnel who generally hold a masters degree in social work and who have unique training and experience specific to working in schools and/or with children. This training includes special education law, school law, and systems theory. They understand the interrelatedness of various systems such as: education, juvenile justice, family/children’s health, mental health, and child protective services.
Where do school social workers practice?
The majority of school social workers are employed by individual schools or districts and work in urban, suburban and rural settings. Some school social workers are hired by community agencies to work within schools. School social workers provide services at all educational levels: pre-school, elementary, middle/junior high and senior high.
How do school social workers assist students?
School social workers provide an ecological approach to insuring student success. They assist children and families by examining those factors in the home, school and/or community that are impacting a student’s educational success and then assist in reducing those barriers to learning. These barriers may include but are not limited to: truancy, pregnancy, alcohol and other drug abuse, suicide and sudden death, child abuse and neglect, school safety, violence, basic family needs, economic factors, behavioral difficulties, social competencies, divorce, mental health concerns, and learning factors such as special education needs.
What else do social workers do?
School social workers support parents to understand their child’s developmental and educational needs, to effectively advocate for their child in school, and to understand special education services.
School social workers assist teachers and other staff in understanding a student’s cultural and familial factors and help staff to meet the desired educational outcomes of diverse learners. They assist teachers by providing or directing educators to appropriate resources and by insuring that they understand their role in the special education process.
School social workers draft and implement prevention programs and policies with administrators in an effort to address external and internal needs that impact school climate and student learning and success. Examples of these include but are not limited to: truancy and crisis intervention policies, programs that address Response to Intervention (RTI) and Positive Behavioral (Interventions and) Supports (PBIS), and special education compliance.
School social workers serve as links to the home and community and coordinate community agency/school collaborations in areas such as mental health, behavioral programs, and student re-entry into school after institutional experiences/living.
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