- More than ever, schools are in dire need of social workers due to complex social, emotional, developmental, and academic issues that all influence one another. These issues go on to effect educators in the fact that they are struggling to teach students who are dealing with social, emotional, and behavioral issues. Without focusing on all the different aspects and how they interact, it is a lot more difficult to help students with whatever problems they are experiencing. Thankfully, since the 1990s there has been a greater focus on collaboration between private and public community agencies. The idea is to meet all the needs of a student through promoting healthy child development within the context of the schools, the families, and the communities. How is this done you might ask? Well the answer is obvious…it always leads back to social workers! (Diehl & Andy, 2008 p. 1-2).
2. There is empirical evidence supporting that social workers can and do in fact have many positive impacts on students. Furthermore, school social workers have been able to reduce violent and aggressive behaviors, improve attendance, enhance social skills, and improve classroom behaviors which all in turn effect a student’s academic achievement. One way that this is done is through an ecological approach and perspective. In other words, social workers implement interventions through the school, home, and community, thus bringing together many areas of a student’s life. The interventions include case management, education, therapy, consultation, and advocacy (Diehl & Andy, 2008 p. 2, 4).
3. One study that examined a community-school model of social work practice found a significant reduction in problematic behaviors and intensity of individual student and family treatment concerns following an intervention. This model aims to establish schools as a place of community in order to enhance youth and family development through programs and services, parent involvement, family literacy, and health fairs. The goal of the study was to identify risk factors, reduce these risk factors, and increase protective factors such as peer support and coping skills (Diehl & Andy, 2008, p.6, 7).
4. Why is it important to conduct research on the effectiveness of school social workers? Well, evaluations can help provide policy makers and educators with empirical evidence that supports “reform initiatives related to public-private partnerships.” In order to help students succeed, academically as well as emotionally and socially, we must examine what approaches are out there, how effective they are, and ways in which they can be improved (Diehl & Andy, 2008, p.6).
5. So the main take-away is that there needs to be a greater effort to create partnerships between schools, communities, and social workers. Furthermore, both schools and community organizations carry a responsibility to work together to address problems that students, families, and communities are facing. Just because a child is a student does not mean that the responsibility is purely on the school. A child may be a student, but is also a daughter or a son, and a community member and therefore everyone must work together. ( Diehl & Andy, 2008, p. 15, 17).
Diehl, D., & Frey, A. (2008). Evaluating a Community-School Model of Social Work Practice. School Social Work Journal, 32(2), 1-17.