Over the years, SSWAA has developed numerous Resolution Statements to address issues of importance to School Social Workers at the local, state and national levels. Click on title for Complete Statement. Please feel free to use in your own advocacy efforts! If you are interested in developing or updating SSWAA Resolution Statements or your state already has a Resolution Statement that you would like to share, please contact us.
School Social Work and Common Core: Aligning Practice with National Standards As part of the school team, school social workers share the goal of ensuring that all students receive a high-quality education (Pfiffner, 2013). School Social Workers work with students and their families to address personal, family, and societal issues that create obstacles for learning. The recent adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by more than 45 states and territories creates a new national landscape for public education. It also provides a strong foundation for school social workers in our mission to improve academic and behavioral outcomes for all students. July 12, 2015
A Technical Assistance Guide The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act and its regulations include requirements that must be addressed when the behavior of a student requiring special education services prompts disciplinary action. These new requirements represent the intent of Congress to broaden the alternatives available to school personnel to deal with disruptive student behavior and to balance these responses with procedural safeguards. These procedural safeguards include the requirement that Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams conduct a functional behavioral assessment and develop a behavioral intervention plan for students that school personnel propose to suspend for more than 10 days in any school year. So what exactly is a functional behavioral assessment and a behavioral intervention plan?
Advocating for the Medicaid School-Based Services Program The School Social Work Association of America is strongly supportive of the Medicaid School-Based Services program. This program helps to defray some of the rapidly increasing costs of delivering health care services to students in special education, including the critically important mental health services provided by school social workers. Threatened cuts to Medicaid funding would have a severe impact on our nation’s most vulnerable students and shift a substantial financial burden to state education budgets and local school districts.
Advocating for the Use of the Title: "School Social Worker" School social work is a specialized area of practice within the broad field of the social work profession. The School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) strongly supports the use of the title “school social worker” to identify social workers employed by school districts. Most school social workers are credentialed as required by the state department of education and state social work licensing authority. Use of the title “school social worker” accurately represents to school personnel, students and their families, community agencies, and the general public the school social worker's credentials and role within the school district. July 19, 2014
Clinical School Social Work: Responding to the Mental Health Needs of Students Qualified school social workers provide mental health counseling and psychotherapy to promote the academic success of students. When a school social worker is working under the supervision of a licensed clinical social worker the clinical skills that are utilized should be incorporated into clinical supervision plans submitted to state social work board for approval. State licensing boards should approve clinical supervision plans that delineate the use of clinical skills in a school setting. May, 2013
Educational Rights for Students with Social Maladjustment
When the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed in 1975, the criteria for the disability category, emotionally disturbed deliberately excluded children labeled socially maladjusted. This term was never defined in the legislation nor in the regulations issued by the Department of Education. This situation has created confusion and controversy ever since. It has primarily been used to deny services to children who have broken school rules. The School Social Work Association of America endorses the position that all students who have behavioral problems that interfere with their ability to learn in the general education classroom have the right to be provided the services and protections of students who are considered to be emotionally disturbed under the provisions of IDEIA 2004.
Effective School Staffing Model: Teaming School Counselors, School Psychologists, and School Social Workers-- Joint Statement
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA), the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), and the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) endorse an Interdisciplinary Teaming Approach to SISP staffing that involves School Social Workers, School Psychologists and School Counselors. Working together, we are stronger than we are if we work in isolation or in competition with our mental health related partners in support of all students. The national organizations collectively will continue to promote the unique roles of school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers and will support state and local affiliate efforts toward appropriate hiring models that recognize the role and importance of each of these professionals. October 20, 2014
Federal Education Funding Priorities The School Social Work Association of America believes that a quality education for each of the nation's children should be a major priority for the federal government. In order to provide a quality education to each child, the federal government must significantly increase its investment in public education. This includes a strong commitment to programs aimed at enhancing the social and emotional strength of students, a factor critical to achieving academic success.
Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavioral Intervention Plans In order to decrease the reliance on punitive exclusion of students who present behavioral challenges, IDEA í97 requires the development of a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and a positive behavioral support plan (PBSP-formerly Behavioral Intervention Plans-BIP). School social workers have specific training and expertise critical to developing workable and effective FBAs and BIPs. However, a positive change in the behavioral and learning environments of all classrooms will only be achieved through the consistent development, implementation, and evaluation of these plans. Therefore, SSWAA believes that the U.S. Department of Education and State departments of education must commit additional resources to develop model functional behavioral assessments and positive behavioral support plans, and to provide training for all staff responsible for meeting these critical expectations.
Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual and Questioning Youth SSWAA believes the school social worker should serve as an advocate for GLBTQ youth on an individual basis, in the classroom, school wide, and within the school district. Students should be able to attend school without fear of threat, harassment, or denial of rights. To achieve this positive school climate, SSWAA supports educating both students and staff regarding misconceptions about GLBTQ youth, appropriate ways to address discrimination and harassment, and the importance of mutual respect SSWAA believes the school social worker must play an integral part in ensuring the school environment is a safe and respectful place for every student to learn and thrive.
Help to Prevent Bullying The School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) is intent on stemming the tide of bullying behaviors in schools throughout the United States. School Social Workers have a long and successful history of intervening on behalf of, and supporting students who may be picked on, teased, beaten up, or excluded by their fellow students. School Social Workers are often utilized by schools to help implement classroom, school, or district wide interventions to address this troubling and dangerous behavior.
Helping Students Stay in School School social workers play a vital role in supporting students at risk of dropping out of school. Members of the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) recognize that the decision to drop out of school may have serious life-long implications. School social workers are dedicated to assisting students to be successful in school and to reach high school graduation. SSWAA believes that federal, state, and local resources must be used to address the serious barriers to high school graduation that face students on a daily basis.
Highly Qualified School Social Worker Definition No Child Left Behind Act of 2001P.L. 107-110 (NCLB) places great emphasis on placing a “highly qualified teacher” in every classroom as one of the foundational requirements for helping schools to achieve academic success. The School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) recommends a “highly qualified school social worker,” whose function is to assist children to overcome barriers to academic success, be defined as follows:
Multi-Tiered Systems of Support: The School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) strongly supports the development and implementation of integrated multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) for all students. This continuum is based on a Response to Intervention (RtI) approach to address students’ academic, social, emotional and behavioral needs. July 19, 2014
NASW School Social Work Standards 2012
Professional Development and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act As the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is in the process of re-authorization, the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) supports, as an allowable use of funds, professional development opportunities for School Social Workers. School Social Workers are specifically trained and qualified to help alleviate barriers to learning and need continuing professional development in order to provide the most appropriate services to all students.
Psychotropic Medications and School SSWAA is concerned that certain policy makers and legislators unintentionally accept as fact inaccurate perceptions regarding students who may benefit from evaluation and treatment with appropriate medication. SSWAA believes that the Child Medication Safety Act, HR 1170 (2003), will have a chilling effect on School Social Workers' ability to assist parents in accessing appropriate treatment and services for their children. This and other significant unintended consequences may prove to be detrimental in meeting the diverse mental health needs of students and families. Untreated mental health concerns have resulted in: school failure, retention, drop out, criminal activity, violent behavior and suicide. Medications, when used and monitored appropriately, can be a critical element in the treatment of mental health disorders.
School Safety: The School Social Work Role in Violence Prevention: The School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) believes that all children and youth have a right to a quality public education delivered in a safe and supportive learning environment. As such, SSWAA supports a comprehensive approach to school safety that promotes the emotional and physical wellbeing of all education stakeholders: students, school personnel, families, and community members. This approach focuses on addressing the mental and behavioral health of all students, developing healthy school climates, training educators in early identification protocols, ensuring safe facilities, creating family partnerships, and establishing community collaborations that support safety. July 19, 2014
School Social Work and Groupwork As more local education agencies adopt a Response-to-Intervention framework for comprehensive service delivery to students, school social workers are likely to be involved in providing more group work since up to 15% of youth are expected to be served in early intervention services (Batsche et al., 2006). The major legal issue is whether privilege is protected during therapy groups.
School Social Work in Host Settings The NASW Code of Ethics does not distinguish between adults and minors as clients. This is especially problematic for school social workers, because the vast majority of students are minors. Are all students who benefit from, or are the direct recipients of, school social work services “clients”? Who is the “client”? How are school social workers to navigate conflicts of interest? How are ethical conflicts resolved between disciplines resolved?
School Social Work Services The School Social Work Association of America believes that students face enormous challenges to achieving academic success. Emotional, social, and behavioral problems can be serious impediments to learning and can have a deleterious effect not just on the individual student, but on others in the school setting. The school social worker must carefully weigh the decision whether to preserve the confidentiality of information or to share the information, using the best interests of the student as a guide. Those decisions must be informed by federal, state, and local laws and policies, as well as the professional ethics of the school social worker.Schools, families, and communities must work collaboratively to assist students to achieve positive academic and behavioral outcomes. SSWAA believes that school social work services provide a comprehensive approach to meeting the needs of students through early identification, prevention, intervention, counseling, and support.
School Social Work Training Programs To ensure students are prepared for the rigorous demands of the profession, SSWAA supports high quality pre-service training in school social work. School social work is a specialty area of social work requiring graduate coursework in child development, child psychology, psychological testing, and providing social work services in schools. School social workers must be conversant in the legal requirements of special education law and have a working knowledge of various disabilities, including the ability to accurately assess the presence of a disability. School social workers must be trained in the evaluation process and know how to interpret assessment data. School social workers must be able to provide interventions that meet best practice standards and remove barriers to learning for students facing temporary crises or long standing educational, emotional, mental health or behavioral difficulties.
School Social Worker Staffing Needs Ratio The School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) recommends a maximum ratio of one Master of Social Work (MSW) level school social worker to 250 general education students or one school social worker per building serving 250 students or fewer. This recommendation is consistent with the roles and functions of the profession as delineated in the SSWAA School Social Work National Practice Model (2013). When students require more intensive services, such as student with disabilities and other specialized populations, the ratio of school social workers to students should be adjusted to ensure school social workers appropriate workloads to address students' needs. Revised March 10, 2013
School Social Workers and Confidentiality The school social worker must carefully weigh the decision whether to preserve the confidentiality of information or to share the information, using the best interests of the student as a guide. Those decisions must be informed by federal, state, and local laws and policies, as well as the professional ethics of the school social worker.
School Social Workers and the Privacy of Minors The NASW Code of Ethics does not distinguish between adults and minors as clients. This is especially problematic for school social workers, because the vast majority of students are minors. The purpose of the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) Ethical Guideline Series is to provide general principles for practice by school social workers.
School Social Workers' Role in Addressing Students' Mental Health Needs and Increasing Academic Achievement SSWAA Statement regarding the training and qualifications of School Social Workers, the critical need for school-based mental health services, implementing multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS) as well as integrating services through collaboration and a multi-disciplinary approach.
Threats to Educational Funding and Professional Educators The School Social Work Association of America is very concerned about the recent efforts at the state and national levels to address budget deficits through cuts in services to children and families, including cuts in educational funding. SSWAA believes that the path to true recovery in a global economy lies in a strong educational system that maximizes the potential contribution of all students to our workforce. Reductions in educational funding represent the worst possible choice for our nation’s future.