Department of School Social Work
Social workers are experts in applying social work principles and methodologies to educational environments with the main objective of eliminating any difficulties that inhibit a student from maximizing his or her academic ability. Currently, the School Social Work department in Norfolk Public Schools consists of 23 school social workers. Every school in Norfolk is supported by a school social worker. Schools Social Workers are typically assigned to multiple school sites.
School Social Workers have extensive background in social work generalist practice; however, they also possess a broad and comprehensive knowledge of social work practice in the school setting and are uniquely qualified to assess and ameliorate the impact of home and environmental factors on learning. Each staff member has a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and has additional training in school law, psychometric testing, and evaluation. Several school social work professionals hold state licensure through the Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Social Work as clinical social workers (LCSW) and are trained to practice autonomously and provide mental health services in any setting. All school social workers are licensed by the Virginia Department of Education.
WHAT IS A SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER?
A school social worker is a professional with a unique combination of advanced training to identify and interpret how children are influenced by the school, home, and community. Working within an interdisciplinary team, a school social worker applies a strong knowledge base in assessment, consultation, and mental health services to meet the needs of all students.
WHAT DO SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKERS DO?
School social workers participate as members of the multidisciplinary team during the diagnostic process of determining eligibility for special education services. This includes serving as a member of the Student Services Support Team, and interviewing parents to complete socio-cultural assessments. Social workers in general education settings also provide crisis intervention, behavioral consultation, some limited individual/group counseling, and parent groups. School Social Workers are the liaisons between home, school and community. Additionally, as mandated reporters, they collaborate with local departments of social services to protect children from child abuse and community agencies to offer services through the Virginia Comprehensive Services Act.
SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKERS HELP STUDENTS:
- Utilize educational opportunities to achieve maximum benefit
- Understand themselves and others
- Develop strategies to cope with stress
- Develop skills for healthy decision making
SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKERS HELP PARENTS:
- Effectively participate in their child’s education
- Understand and meet their child’s emotional and social needs
- Understand programs available to students with unique needs
- Develop awareness of school and community resources
- Access school and community programs and resources
SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKERS HELP SCHOOLS:
- Understand various factors (cultural, societal, economic, familial, health, etc.) that impact students
- Promote a safe school environment
- Utilize educational, social, and emotional resources to support student growth and learning
SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKERS HELP COMMUNITIES:
- Understand school policies, programs, and practice
- Identify and minimize environmental factors that limit learning
- Develop resources to effectively meet the needs of students and families
RELATIONSHIP TO SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS AND SCHOOL COUNSELORS:
School social workers focus on home and environmental factors that adversely impact learning. They provide intensive services to students facing issues that pose risks to their academic success such as parent divorce and separation, truancy, chronic illness, mental health problems, conduct problems, child abuse, etc. On a broader societal level, they focus on advocating for social policy that eliminates poverty, oppression, and injustice. School social workers serve alongside school psychologists and professional school counselors to form a mental health team. Together, they provide crisis counseling, short-term and ongoing individual, group and family counseling.