School social workers aim to make lasting change not only in children’s academic experiences, but in their mental, emotional, and environmental circumstances as well. Experts in this field may assist with crisis management and counseling, disciplinary intervention, policy development, and advocacy for children and adolescents.
In addition to working with educators and administrators, school social workers interact directly with families, in order to assess students’ home environments. Based on their findings, they can connect the student and family with community resources, advocate to bring about a more positive educational atmosphere, and empower the student to succeed despite adverse circumstances.
School social work can also entail assessment, family liaising, and transition facilitation for learners with special needs. Social workers join special education teachers to provide a nurturing, supportive environment for learners with unique challenges to ensure that their educational experience is valuable and positive.
Typical Roles and Responsibilities of Social Workers in Education and School Environments
According to the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA), school social workers provide services to students, families, educators, administrators, communities, and the school district. In many respects, a school social worker is a provider of tools and resources to benefit students’ interactions with these various entities.
Resources may include:
- Anger management and coping skills for students
- Information for teachers on cultural, economic, or social factors affecting students’ performance
- Guidance toward community assistance programs for families
- Development of school- or district-wide discipline policies
School social workers earn an average salary of $47,738 annually. Bilingualism is a valued skill that can boost the salary for school social workers. Experience and credentialing can also increase pay in these positions.
Education & Experience Requirements
School social work typically requires a master’s degree in a human service field, such as a master’s in social work (MSW) degree. In addition, many states require social work licensure, as well as specific coursework or credentialing in the school social work field. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) also offers a credential in school social work for graduates of accredited MSW programs. Certification and licensure requirements vary from state to state; check out a map with the licensure requirements for your state here.