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School Social Work is a specialized area of professional practice in the broad field of social work. School Social Workers are specifically trained and qualified to analyze barriers to learning and achievement. School Social Workers develop and implement strategies to address and eliminate identified barriers. School Social Workers provide the vital link between the home, school, and community to provide support services that impact students’ academic achievement. Schools social workers help students increase academic success, improve interpersonal relationships, cope with crisis situations, learn problem-solving skills, improve attendance, and build self-esteem. School social work promotes the academic mission of schools by fostering educational environments that are safe; have supportive, fair, and responsive policies; and emphasize early intervention and positive behavioral interventions.

School social workers are trained mental health professionals with a degree in social work and are licensed by the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). School Social Workers help students improve their academic achievement and social, emotional, and behavioral competence. A school social worker employed in North Carolina must adhere to the School Social Work Professional Standards outlined by the NCDPI and to the professional National Association of Social Work (NASW) Code of Ethics demonstrating core values of service, social justice, dignity and the worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. School Social Workers are hired by each local educational agency to work within that specific school district.

School Social Work services include, but are not limited to:

  • Conducting reliable and valid assessments of students and organizations to inform the design of interventions to remove barriers to learning.
  • Remaining current with school-based intervention research and using evidence-informed practices in service delivery. Interventions shall be designed to enhance positive educational experiences and involve the student, the family, other team members, school personnel, and community resources as needed.
  • Providing crisis intervention services related to family violence, substance abuse, and behavioral disorders.
  • Engaging in advocacy that seeks to ensure that all students have equal access to education and services to enhance their academic progress.
  • Serving as leaders and consultants in promoting positive school climate and to facilitate understanding of factors in the home, school, and community that affect students’ educational experiences.
  • Providing training and engaging parents, school personnel, other professionals and community members in the removal of barriers to learning.
  • Supporting and facilitating educational reforms and initiatives including those that emphasize multitier prevention, early intervention, parent education and involvement, service integration, partnerships, and support for student transitions.

For more information about School Social Work services, please review, The National Association of Social Workers’ “Standards for School Social Work” below.

NC Professional School Social Work Standards/Support Documents

School Social Work Resources