Within SWWC, school social workers work in different settings. Some school social workers work in school systems that serve general education and special education students while others provide services primarily for students under special education services. Others work in alternative school settings, like the Red Rock Ridge Learning Center in Windom, where students receive therapeutic services like groups, social skills instruction and more. Others work as mental health professionals providing more specific services in varying settings. Regardless of the setting, the school social worker is there to assist the student, staff, family, and community by providing a multitude of services. These services could include individual therapy, social skill groups, character education, attendance management, parenting assistance, and more.
To learn more about what school social work is, please read the information below provided by the Minnesota School Social Workers Association (from their School Social Workers brochure).
School social workers are members of the educational team that promote and support student success by providing specialized services that include:
- Assessment of student needs through observation, interviews, testing.
- Treatment of mental and emotional disorders.
- Individual and group therapeutic services.
- Crisis prevention and intervention.
- Working with students in both general education and special education settings.
- Advocacy for students, parents, and the school district.
- Education and training for parents and guardians.
- Information and referrals for parents and providers.
- Professional case management.
- Collaboration and consultation with community agencies, organizations, and other professionals.
- Staff and policy development.
- Classroom character education curriculum.
School social workers help students to:
- Increase academic success.
- Improve interpersonal relationships.
- Develop self-esteem and self-discipline.
- Learn problem-solving, conflict resolution, and decision-making skills.
- Remove barriers to academic success.
- Cope with difficult and crisis situations.
School social workers help educators by:
- Developing and implementing plans to enhance school success.
- Providing on-going emotional and behavioral support to students.
- Communicating information about how factors like family, culture, socioeconomic status, and mental health can affect student performance.
- Identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect situations.
- Coordinating community resources to meet student needs.
- Identifying and eliminating barriers to educational success.
School social workers' role in special education is to:
- Consult with mainstream and special education teachers to develop and implement pre-referral interventions.
- Design and implement behavior management plans.
- Participate on child study teams.
- Provide social, emotional, behavioral, functional, and adaptive assessments.
- Educate parents and school personnel regarding the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).
School social workers provide services that are efficient and effective. School social workers are:
- Licensed mental health practitioners and professionals.
- Develop intervention strategies that prevent school violence.
- Coordinate service delivery for students through cooperative interagency activity.
- Mediate disputes between students, parents, and school systems.
School social workers in Minnesota hold licenses with the Minnesota Board of Social Work. They may hold license at one of four levels:
- Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)
- Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)
- Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW)
- Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
School social workers also hold license through the Minnesota Department of Education and must adhere to the Code of Ethics set forth by the National Association of Social Workers. They believe in the core values of service, social justice, dignity, worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence.