Social work is based on humanitarian democratic ideals. It supports an educational philosophy of personalized instruction and flexible learning opportunities, both inside and outside the school setting. The social work profession is dedicated to providing service that embraces the value of all persons in the quest to enhance their wellbeing. It does so through the disciplined use of a recognized body of knowledge and the marshalling of community resources. The school social worker is guided by the values set forth in the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) “Code of Ethics” and “Standards for Social Work Services in Schools.” Both documents are available from the NASW national office and in the School Social Work services office.
EDUCATIONAL AND PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND OF SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKERS
The preferred academic degree for entry into school social work is the Master of Social Work (MSW) earned from a graduate school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
A. The goal of each school social worker is to provide every student with the opportunity to develop to his or her maximum potential.
B. As part of a coordinated system of Student Services, School Social Workers assist students in making better use of their school experience. The services primarily address the needs of those students experiencing social, emotional, learning and behavioral difficulties in the school setting. These difficulties may be presented as poor academic achievement, lack of motivation, difficulty remaining focused on tasks and truancy.
C. The School Social Worker works cooperatively with teachers and other school personnel regarding the needs of groups or individual students.
D. The School Social Worker provides an essential coordination and liaison services involving the student, family, school and community.
School social work is a specialized service for helping students who experience difficulty in effectively using school resources. The primary aspects of social work in schools include casework, group work, collaboration, consultation, and utilization of community resources. The school social worker also serves on school committees, participates in teacher and/or parent discussion groups, and plays a role in community activities pertaining to student’s welfare.
Casework Service is based on an understanding of human behavior, skill in interviewing, the identification of problems of adjustment, and the appropriate utilization of school and community resources. Casework services to students and their families aim to reduce or eliminate those problems encountered by the student which prevent his/her benefiting from the school experience.
Evaluation is based on interviews with the family, observations of the child, consultation with educators, and a review of the child’s school records. It is a comprehensive process requiring knowledge of social, economic and cultural factors and their impact on human behavior, professional judgment, skill in establishing constructive working relationships between the variety of families in the school populations and the school system itself, and expertise in conducting interviews to elicit information relevant to understanding how the child learns. In the department, the evaluation is known as the Social/Developmental History.
Working with Groups is a way of serving school children through small groups in order to bring about desired changes in participants. The school social worker synthesizes the skills and understanding of individual behavior, which constitutes casework service with the skills and knowledge required for the use of group dynamics and processes. Examples of groups facilitated by the school social worker are social skills, anger management, self-esteem, parenting, attendance, divorce, etc…
Collaboration is a procedure in which school social workers work with other professionals to serve a given client i.e.: individual, group, community, etc. The professionals communicate and coordinate their respective efforts.
Consultation is provided by school social workers in the helping process. School Social Workers may advise, guide, and provide on going support to school and agency personnel. In addition, school social workers may seek input from others to solve problems.
Community Action is the process whereby the school social worker uses his unique position for identifying unmet community needs toward the resolution of those needs. It is incumbent on the school social worker to assume the professional responsibility of alleviating community difficulties by bringing about adjustment, development, or change among groups or organizations. The exercise of these responsibilities is likely to include interpreting the school program to the community and representing the school in community social welfare activities.
Utilization of Community Agencies involves the use of non-school services when the problems encountered by a student stem from areas that are not directly the responsibility of the school. In this case the school social worker helps parents and students avail themselves of appropriate outside agencies. The school social worker should be familiar with community agencies and know how to effectively use them.
Some of those with which the school social worker typically has a close relationship are listed:
Mental Health Care Inc.
Northside Mental Health Center
Family Service Association of Greater Tampa Inc.
Hillsborough County Health Departments
Department of Children and Families
Department of Juvenile Justice
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
Other private counseling or mental health agencies
Social Work Activities in the School
School Functions and Services
1. Help teachers to identify children whose needs suggest referral for school social work and/or other services. These needs may include, but are not limited to, the following:
a. hostile or aggressive behavior
b. withdrawal or isolation
c. attendance problems
d. learning difficulties
e. neglect or deprivation
f. health problems
2. Consults and plans with teachers and other school personnel regarding students or groups.
3. Works individually with students to help them solve problems
4. Works with small groups of students to assist in their adjustment.
5. Provide and participate in faculty meetings, group activities, committee work and staffings.
6. Completes social developmental history reports or psychosocial assessments on students who have various needs affecting their success at school.
Working Relationships of the school social worker in the school setting involve significant levels of interaction with the following persons:
The responsibility for the total school functioning rests with the principal of each school. The school social worker should maintain a close working relationship by keeping the principal informed in all matters relating to school social work services within the school. School social work services are effective in that setting only if planning and implementation are a joint endeavor. The school social worker interprets professional practice to the principal and faculty. The principal of each school is charged with the administrative responsibility of providing adequate office space, telephone availability, a locked file cabinet, and privacy in which the school social worker can conduct interviews and conferences and make essential telephone calls with no risk to confidentiality.
The relationship between the school social worker and the teacher should be a partnership to address student needs. Each one draws on a professional knowledge in defining what will be helpful to the needs of the student. The partnership is designed to work toward a solution of the problems experienced. Discussion may occur between the teacher and the school social worker but may require further discussion at a Child Study Team (CST) and/or Intervention Assistance Team (IAT) meeting. When conferences are held, plans are reviewed and evaluated.
The school social worker serves as a liaison between the school and family. The role is designed to function in the following ways:
a. Help parents to understand and meet their children’s needs
b. Expand the understanding of school personnel as to the ways in which home situations affect a student’s adjustment.
c. Facilitate home and school communication, which includes parent involvement in the child’s school life.
d. Assist parents in understanding the many facets of the school setting as well as the various programs and procedures.
e. Organizes parent groups to discuss topics related to child development and student learning.
f. Encourages parent involvement
Other School Personnel
School Social Workers maintain working relationships with other educators to share information and provide follow-up services. Other school personnel include district level staff, staff from other schools, bus drivers, etc.
Improve Your Child’s Attendance
Here are some ways to help improve attendance that have been successful.
These interventions may be helpful to you and your child.
1. Call the school’s attendance office each day of the absence. Our school's Data Processor can be reached at 671-5115 then press 1.
2. For frequent absences due to illness, you may need to seek medical assistance so that your child can attend school on a regular basis. Medical documentation may be required to excuse further absences. To determine if eligible for the Hospital/Homebound Program, please call 375-3950.
3. Schedule a conference with your child’s teachers and/or guidance counselor to check on school progress and the effect absences may have on school success. You may call the school and ask to speak or leave a message for them. For Exceptional Education students please call the ESE Specialist, R. Remson at 671-5115 ext 230.
4. Request a weekly school progress and attendance report to be filled out by your child’s teachers each Friday. The student is responsible for getting the form from the Guidance office before school and showing it to all his/her teachers.
5. If your child refuses to attend school, call the Truancy Center at 936-9099 or 975-2018.
6. For a runaway or ungovernable child, call Children & Family Interventions Services at 744-5953.
7. Get outside help with the following Parent/Family Enrichment programs:
a. Parent Education Center 272-0665
b. Parenting Link information 272-7368
c. Big Brother, Big Sister of Central FL Inc 287-2210