Role of A School Social Worker
School social work is a specialized area of professional practice in the broad field of social work. School social workers are trained in providing comprehensive supports and services to address barriers impacting the social, emotional, academic, and physical needs of all students. School social work services include assessment and screening, individual and group counseling, crisis intervention and prevention, family support, advocacy, and classroom instruction. School social workers provide consultation and training to administrators and school personnel related to the whole child, including behavior and classroom management, mental health, child abuse, and neglect, and other crises. School social workers address the varied needs of students, with and without disabilities, who may be experiencing violence and harassment, facing homelessness, are pregnant or parenting, have chronic absenteeism or truancy issues, are transitioning between school and treatment programs, foster care, or the juvenile justice system, are at high-risk for dropping out of school, and have other behavioral and mental health challenges. School social workers ensure equitable access and culturally responsive services for all students and families, maximizing students’ success in school and improving school culture, climate and safety.
Research on the effectiveness of school social work services shows increased student outcomes related to academic achievement, physical and psychological safety, improved mental and behavioral health, improved attendance, and social-emotional competencies, and family and community involvement.
School social workers are trained mental health professionals with a degree in social work and are licensed by the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). School Social Workers help students improve their academic achievement and social, emotional, and behavioral competence. A school social worker employed in North Carolina must adhere to the School Social Work Professional Standards outlined by the NCDPI and to the professional National Association of Social Work (NASW) Code of Ethics demonstrating core values of service, social justice, dignity and the worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. School Social Workers are hired by each local educational agency to work within that specific school district.
School Social Work Practice Model
The roles and responsibilities of school social workers vary significantly across schools, districts, states, and countries. The purpose of the School Social Work Practice Model is:
(1) to articulate the skills and services that can be expected from school social workers, and
(2) to promote consistency in undergraduate and graduate social work education, credentialing, and professional practice, with the goal of improving academic and behavioral outcomes.