School social work is considered an intricate part of student support services in many parts of Canada. The principles and values correspond to the Canadian Association of Social Workers’ ethical duties and obligations and generally fit into the policies and regulations of each school division, board, or district, under the Public School Act legislated in each province. In most jurisdictions in Canada, school social workers have a minimum of a Bachelor of Social Work degree and are registered with a provincial body that holds them accountable for competent and ethical practice. Some
provinces require specific certification by the provincial Department of Education.
School social workers offer consultative support to school teams, intervention with students and families, and liaison with community agencies. The goal of school social workers is to enhance the overall functioning and academic performance of students. School social workers work as a part of school teams in helping students to attain their academic potential.
School social workers provide the following services:
-Consultation with school administrators, teachers, school support staff, and parents
-Individual counselling and support to students
-Family counselling and support to parents
-Group counselling for students
-Parent and school staff education
-Fostering of positive relationships between parents and school
-Referral services to community agencies
-Community development programming
-Collaboration with community programs
-Other services based on the individual needs of the student
School social workers provide services to students who are experiencing difficulties within their environment that have an impact on their ability to function in school.
Some examples include:
-Primary students having difficulty making the transition to school
-Students who have a developmental delay that affects their academic functioning
-Students undergoing a transition (i.e. move from another country, change of school, change of family composition, divorce, remarriage, death, etc.)
-Students who are experiencing social, emotional, or behavioral difficulties in school, home, or community
-Students whose learning difficulties, with the resulting frustration, adversely affect their school behaviour and social interactions
-Students experiencing difficulty within their home environment
-Students experiencing issues with substance use
-Students facing pregnancy
-Students at risk for dropping out of school
-Students who are demonstrating poor attendance
Additional Roles School Social Workers Serve:
-Advocating on behalf of clients, schools, the community, and the social work profession in general
-Publishing materials for parents and professionals
-Offering professional development for educational and community professionals
-Writing, contributing to, and coordinating the publishing of documents for local school systems
-Liaising with government bodies of education and community and social services
-Liaising with international, national, state, and provincial school social work organizations and practitioners.
School social workers offer a unique perspective and knowledge to educators working with children, adolescents, and their families. This can assist educators in offering the most valuable and complete education to all students to facilitate the development of students as healthy, contributing members of society.
Prepared By: Bill Bolley RSW, School Social Worker
Steve McCann MSW, RSW, School Social Worker/Attendance Counsellor