School Social Worker

School Social Work is a specialized area of professional practice in the broad field of social work. School Social Workers are specifically trained and qualified to analyze barriers to learning and achievement. School Social Workers develop and implement strategies to address and eliminate identified barriers. School Social Workers provide the vital link between the home, school, and community to provide support services that impact students’ academic achievement. Schools social workers help students increase academic success, improve interpersonal relationships, cope with crisis situations, learn problem-solving skills, improve attendance, and build self-esteem. School social work promotes the academic mission of schools by fostering educational environments that are safe; have supportive, fair, and responsive policies; and emphasize early intervention and positive behavioral interventions. 

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 services include, but are not limited to: 

  • Conducting reliable and valid assessments of students and organizations to inform the design of interventions to remove barriers to learning. 
  • Remaining current with school-based intervention research and using evidence-informed practices in service delivery. Interventions shall be designed to enhance positive educational experiences and involve the student, the family, other team members, school personnel, and community resources as needed.
  • Providing crisis intervention services related to family violence, substance abuse, and behavioral disorders.
  • Engaging in advocacy that seeks to ensure that all students have equal access to education and services to enhance their academic progress. 
  • Serving as leaders and consultants in promoting positive school climate and to facilitate understanding of factors in the home, school, and community that affect students’ educational experiences. 
  • Providing training and engaging parents, school personnel, other professionals and community members in the removal of barriers to learning. 
  • Supporting and facilitating educational reforms and initiatives including those that emphasize multitier prevention, early intervention, parent education and involvement, service integration, partnerships, and support for student transitions.

For more information about School Social Work services, please review, The National Association of Social Workers’ “Standards for School Social Work” below.

NC Professional School Social Work Standards

NC Professional School Social Work Standards

Professional School Social Work Standards 

The State Board of Education approved the North Carolina Professional School Social Work Standards on Dec. 4, 2008. The North Carolina Professional School Social Work Standards will guide the professional development of school social workers in the twenty-first century; provide focus for schools and districts as they support, monitor, and evaluate school social workers; and assist higher education programs in developing the content and requirements for school social work education curricula. 

Professional Standards and Evaluation Resources

The purpose of the NC School Social Work Standards and Evaluation Process is to promote, support and assess the school social worker’s delivery of a comprehensive school social work program aligned with the state professional standards. These standards, evaluation rubric and resources are designed to promote effective leadership, quality school social work practice, and student learning.

School Social Work Resources

School Social Work Resources

School Social Work Values and Beliefs

School Social Workers believe in the fundamental rights of all people and adhere to ethics set forth by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). We believe in Service and helping people in need. We believe in Social Justice and challenging injustice. We believe in Dignity and Worth of all people. We believe in Integrity and Competence in our social work practice. 

We must apply these values and principles to how we treat and work with families and children in our schools. We must ensure the health and safety of all children, all the time. We believe that all children should grow up in nurturing homes where they have stability, adequate food, shelter and medical care. Children lives should be free of violence and abuse and exposure to harmful influences. Unfortunately, this is not true for many children in North Carolina. Too many children are hungry. Too many children are not safe and do not have a stable, loving home. They are the children who are failing in our schools. They are the children whose lives are chaotic and this chaos prevents their learning. These are the children who need help from trustworthy adults. We believe that all North Carolinians to basic, human values, and believe there is a moral obligation for all adults to protect our children.

School Social Workers Improve Graduation Rates

Concern regarding school safety and the prevention of school violence has permeated every school in the United States. School Social Work services focus on improving the mental and behavioral health care of students. They provide critical assessment and interventions to address the complex needs of students with mental health concerns in order to help prevent future tragedies by being a liaison between the home, school and community.

School Social Workers Help Homeless Students

School Social Workers make the connection under federal law through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act. They strive to identify homeless children and youth and assist them in accessing free and appropriate education. 

Who are School Social Workers? 

This one-page document from the NCSSWA concisely summarizes and defines the role of a school social worker, illustrating the variety of services provided by a School Social Worker, and emphasizing the importance of the role. 

School Social Work and Safety

Concern regarding school safety and the prevention of school violence has permeated every school in the United States. School Social Work services focus on improving the mental and behavioral health care of students. They provide critical assessment and interventions to address the complex needs of students with mental health concerns in order to help prevent future tragedies by being a liaison between the home, school and community. 

School Social Workers and Child and Family Teams 

The Department of Health and Human Services provides funding for the Child and Family Support Teams (CFST) in twenty-one (21) local education agencies across the state. As team members, school social workers work with school nurses to screen and identify children who are potentially at risk of academic failure or out-of-home placement due to physical, social, legal, emotional, or developmental factors. 

General Statute HB 1491 Liability Insurance for Transporting Students 

HB 1491 became law during the 2005-2006 Session. It requires that School Social Workers be reimbursed by their local education agency for any increase in automobile liability insurance if the School Social Worker is required to transport students as part of their job description.

General Statute HB 1168 Title Protection for Social Workers

HB 1168 became law during the 2009 Session. It prohibits an individual from using the title “Social Worker” if the individual is not certified, licensed, or provisionally licensed as a social worker, does not holds a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work from a college of university which is accredited by the Council of Social Work Education, or has a not received a doctorate in social work.

Licensure

The Department of Public Instruction issues the license for practicing school social workers. Recommendations for licensure need to be made by the Dean of Education or the Licensure Officer from one of the following approved programs: East Carolina University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Pembroke and Western Carolina. 

Professional Organizations

North Carolina School Social Work Association 
The members of the North Carolina School Social Workers Association provide services that enhance and promote the educational, emotional, and social needs of students and families in order for them to make use of the resources available to them to achieve their full potential within their home, school, and community.

National Association of Social Workers, North Carolina Chapter 
NASW is a membership organization that promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. Through leadership, education, and advocacy, NASW-NC successfully unifies thousands of professional social work voices to promote healthy, self-sufficient individuals, families, and communities.

School Social Workers of America Association
The School Social Work Association of America is dedicated to promoting the profession of School Social Work and the professional development of School Social Workers in order to enhance the educational experience of students and their families.