WASHINGTON, D.C. - School social workers play a critical role in schools. They
serve as the liaison between school, home, and the community. The underlying
premise of school social work services is based in strengthening students’
academic progress by removing
barriers to learning including meeting their basic physical and emotional needs.
Any form of school violence, including
the mass shootings at schools around the country such as the recent incidents Florida
and Maryland, prohibit students’ sense of safety and their learning. School
social workers work to prevent mass killing in schools as well as guide
schools in recovery after a crisis has occurred. Today more than ever,
there is a growing need for school social workers to help prevent school
violence and to support students in moments of crisis.
school social work positions across the country have been eliminated or
replaced by other professions. Due to extensive financial deficits and constraints, as well as competing priorities, local
education agencies are often unable to hire enough school social workers to
adequately meet the needs of the student population. In many instances, school
social work services are eliminated altogether.
workers work in preventing school violence. They are trained to understand risk factors and warning signs
of violent behaviors. They
are knowledgeable in
classroom management and behavior intervention and can assist teachers and school personnel in identifying concerning
behaviors of students and developing
supportive intervention plans. They are experts
in research-based school discipline policy development that can increase school
connectedness and decrease incidents of school violence.
workers work to provide support after a crisis. They are extensively trained to
manage and deal with crisis and are equipped
to assist school administrators and teachers.
social workers are experienced in delivering difficult and sensitive
information and can assist in developing messages that are age-appropriate and
culturally sensitive. In addition, they
can lead the development of strategic plans that prepare other school personnel
to respond adequately during the times of
chaos and crisis.
workers can link students and their families to community resources. They are
well-informed regarding relevant resources in
the community and online and can aid in connecting students and families to the
appropriate resources during times of crisis.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) advocates for ratios in its latest revision of the NASW Standards for School Social Work Services that reflect the need for an increase in social
work positions across the nation in all schools:
School social work services should be provided at a ratio of one school social worker to each school building serving up to 250 general education students, or a ratio of 1:250 students. When a social
worker is providing services to students with intensive
needs, a lower ratio, such as 1:50, is suggested (NASW, 2012).
Violence in schools has increased dramatically over the
past decades and is seen by many as a public health issue. School social
workers aid in the prevention of school violence and provide much needed
services and support after a crisis has occurred. NASW strongly urges the
funding for an increase of school social workers in schools across the country
to adequately meet the needs of students and decrease school violence.
NASW is in partnerships with coalitions that
are working to support school social work positions. We urge our members and
the larger social work community to contact their elected officials to advocate
for school social work positions in schools. For more information contact NASW
Senior Practice Associate Sharon Dietsche, LCSW-C, LICSW, at