Understanding the Role of Social Work in Schools

Adjusting to school and its learning environment can be tough for children. Emotional, social, and developmental obstacles affect students’ lives, and family issues and a strained economy contribute to stress experienced by students. The No Child Left Behind Act put pressure on teachers to get all students to pass, even those who were not ready. This put more pressure on students who were already struggling with handling school, increasing the need for social workers. (Diehl and Frey, 2008)


Students who meet with social workers have been shown to have a reduction in behavioral problems. In a study done by Diehl and Frey, students who saw social workers for a six month period had a noticeable reduction in behavior problems in school and at home. (Diehl and Frey, 2008)


Social workers are trained to deal with the hidden meaning in patterns. Low attendance, low grades, and bad behavior is more than just a poor student, it’s usually indicative of issues at home or bullying at school. Instead of solely punishing students who don’t perform to sufficient standards, a social worker will work with the student in order to find solutions to the problems they face, or at least help the students to learn how to cope with the issues. (class notes)


School social workers have a caseload of however many students are in the school. The need to be efficient with time is necessary, and helping students learn how to help themselves is equally important. Correcting problems quickly and helping students get back on track is goal of the job. The lack of resources and funding make the job tough, but getting through to the students makes the job rewarding. (guest speaker, Sam Bligen III, MSW, 2016)

Sources: Diehl, D., & Frey, A. (2008). Evaluating a Community-School Model of Social Work Practice. School Social Work Journal, 32(2), 2-17.

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