ROLE OF SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER

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.

"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 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. ​

  • ​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.​

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. 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?

Download a PDF Version

RELATED SERVICES:

  • 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.

 

SCHOOL-COMMUNITY LIAISON:

  • 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.

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. 

The Role of a School Social Worker

Infographic for role of a school social worker.

School Social Workers' Role in Addressing Students' Mental Health Needs and Increasing Academic Achievement

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)

A Framework for Safe and Successful Schools

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.

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National Standards for School Social Work Services

(2002) Developed by the National Association of Social Workers.

Overlapping and Unique Roles of OH Specialized Pupil Services Personnel

Venn Diagram of SSW, School Psych and School Counseling Roles 

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

School Social Work Services

A quick, resource outlining School Social Work services.

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Contact

P.O. Box 3068  

London, KY 40743

contactus@sswaa.org

conference@sswaa.org

Our Mission

The School Social Work Association of America empowers school social workers and promotes the profession of school social work to enhance the social and emotional growth and academic outcomes of all students.

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