In this chapter, the authors review important concepts related to diversity, inclusion, racial power dynamics, and racial justice overall and in school settings. Brief historical reviews of Brown v. Board of Education and the cycle of school segregation accentuate the need for addressing social justice within school settings. This chapter also highlights many other important concepts/theories to promote social justice and equity, including a focus on the strengths perspective, cultural humility and competence, work with diverse families, and consideration for special subpopulations. The chapter provides activities and classroom assignments to engage students in thinking critically about social justice, diversity, and social work practice in schools.
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This chapter begins with a review of Tier 1 social work interventions using the multitiered system of supports (
MTSS) model. Under MTSS, school social workers most often utilize positive behavior interventions and supports ( PBIS), as members of the MTSSor PBISteam(s). This requires the ability to work collaboratively with professionals from a range of disciplines while highlighting the unique skill set of social workers. Following is a focus on interventions to increase family engagement as well as a discussion of different types of schoolwide interventions to encourage family engagement. Additionally, because school social workers provide crucial Tier 1 interventions, the chapter focuses on bullying and suicide prevention services and programs. The chapter concludes with a discussion on trauma-informed schools.
- Go to chapter: The Context of School Social Work: Historical Background and Current Trends in Schools
This chapter introduces the field of school social work, exploring the history of public education in the United States as well as the development of school social work as a field of practice. It provides a description of the school environment as a host setting, which requires a clarity of roles, an ability to describe one’s roles and function to others in the school, and collaboration across disciplines. The chapter introduces how school social workers operate across multiple system levels, including direct practice with students and their families, work with small groups or entire classrooms, consultation or collaboration with teachers and other school staff, participation in district and schoolwide matters, and connecting the school with community resources. The chapter also presents information on school social work models. Finally, it introduces both the Council on Social Work Education’s competencies for practice, growing out of its Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (
EPAS) as well as the Grand Challenges for Social Work.
This chapter focuses on Tier 2 interventions for school social work practice. Specifically, this chapter provides a review of Tier 2 interventions and practices, emphasizing family engagement. School social workers employ a wide variety of other Tier 2 interventions, which are also reviewed in this chapter including Check-In, Check-Out; self-advocacy skills and self-monitoring; critical service learning for elevating youth voice; and transition planning and endings. The chapter also includes a discussion of group work in schools, a frequently used modality. Finally, the authors provide a special topic section to highlight the needs of children of incarcerated parents.
- Go to chapter: Advancing Human Rights: An Agenda for Social, Racial, Economic, Environmental, and Educational Justice
Advancing Human Rights: An Agenda for Social, Racial, Economic, Environmental, and Educational Justice
In Chapter 5, the authors review important concepts related to human rights and social and economic justice for school social work practice. This chapter defines human rights based on the principles outlined by the United Nations and reviews key concepts for enacting social justice as fundamental to human rights. The authors examine various forms of justice (e.g., social, economic, environmental, and educational justice) that impact students, their families, and their educational experiences. The authors pay particular attention to the plight of immigrant children or immigrant students. Further explored in this chapter is the role of discrimination in school settings that lead to disproportional representation of marginalized students. Reviews of critical race theory, Latin critical theory, and anti-oppressive social work practice are also highlighted in response to educational and social injustice.
This chapter begins with a review of constitutional amendments that pertain to student rights and demonstrates how public schools operate as governmental agencies. The authors also provide an overview of policy practice in social work before reviewing specific policies related to education, such as the Individuals with Disability Education Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, Erin’s law, McKinney-Vento, and policy related to immigration and undocumented status of students, and give attention to the topic of bullying and
LGBTQ+students and policy.
This chapter introduces the engagement phase of social work practice as it is applied to the school setting. The authors highlight the importance of school practice, the tasks of engagement, and the preparatory work completed by the social worker that can make this phase more effective. The chapter also includes content on initial meetings with students and families, as well as adaptations for working with children and adolescents. Additionally, a basic review of interviewing skills used in the engagement phase is provided. Included in this chapter is a focus on working with client systems of different sizes, including classrooms, schools, and communities. Finally, the chapter introduces motivational interviewing skills and the techniques and applications of motivational interviewing with children, youth, parents, and teachers.
Tier 3 interventions are the most intensive, designed to support the small percentage of students who need more than what can be provided through Tier 1 and 2 interventions. While the multitiered intervention model applies to both academics and behavior at all levels, and though school social workers are concerned about both academics and behavior, as both are related to student success, this chapter focuses primarily on behavior. This chapter describes interventions consistent with the positive behavioral interventions and supports model, specifically, wraparound services, family support, behavior intervention plans, and self-monitoring, while recognizing the importance of culturally relevant interventions and keeping in mind that behavior occurs in a larger context aff ected by racism, classism, and sexism. Additionally, the chapter discusses safety plans for school reentry and termination of services.
This chapter discusses the critical stage of social work practice, evaluation of services. It reviews the rationale for evaluation, as well as different types of evaluations from a social work perspective. As progress monitoring and evaluation are also essential components of the multitiered system of supports, it further introduces tools for evaluation at multiple tiers within the school setting and covers the importance of collecting data and using data to inform decisions about practice. It makes connections between evaluation and other phases and processes of practice, including assessment, goal setting, and intervention planning. The chapter also explains measurements often utilized within the schools. It discusses the importance of sharing findings with colleagues as well as reflecting on outcomes as a means for reflecting upon one’s own practice.
This chapter explores different ways of understanding the school system, including viewing the school as an institution as well as an organization. It considers politics and power dynamics within schools, including the power differential between social worker and student or family client systems. It also provides information on the basics of getting started in the schools, including learning about the organizational structure of the school and district, what to do in an emergency, how to manage confidentiality and the limits of confidentiality, special issues such as mandated reporting and the duty to warn, and developing a positive relationship with supervisory staff. It also discusses the many roles that school social workers assume. The chapter further lays out the need for professional advocacy as well as strategies for educating others about the importance of school social work.
Informed by a social justice approach, this user-friendly text for social work students provides a comprehensive introduction to contemporary school social work practice structured around the 2022
CSWE EPASCompetencies. With a focus on skills development, this innovative text is competency-based and encompasses professionalism, cross-disciplinary collaboration, research applications, theoretical foundations, policies, engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation. Following a brief historical overview and introduction to the discipline, the book delves into school social work practice and delivers timely content regarding professional identity, supervision, anti-racism, diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. Practice knowledge is examined through social work theory, evidence-informed practice, use of data, and policies regarding school, children, and families. The text addresses the full range of client engagement, service provision, the multi-tiered system of supports, trauma-based practices, social emotional learning, termination, and transition-planning.
- Go to chapter: Practice-Informed Research and Research-Informed Practice: How School Social Workers Engage With Research
Practice-Informed Research and Research-Informed Practice: How School Social Workers Engage With Research
In this chapter, the authors discuss the role of research in social work practice and the contributions practitioners can make to research, specifically in the school setting. The chapter includes a discussion of the applications of evidence-informed practice and data-based decision-making within the multitiered system of supports model. It also informs about how to read research critically, so that one can make the best decisions about evidence-based interventions. It further provides information on the roles of both quantitative and qualitative research in knowledge building. Additionally, it includes content on single-subject design, community-based participatory research, and translational research, which are applicable to school social workers and can be implemented in the school setting. Through several examples, the reader can see how social workers within the schools can intertwine research and practice, thereby reducing the gap between research and practice.
Quality school social work practice requires a firm understanding of developmental, academic, social-emotional, and theoretical perspectives. This chapter begins with a discussion of theory development, by reviewing a variety of perspectives, theories, and concepts pertinent to school social work practice with children and youths. The authors discuss the deconstruction of theories based on each theory’s underlying assumptions and ideological underpinnings. Beginning with the foundational ecosystems perspective, the authors examine a variety of theories pertinent to social work practice. Specifically, the authors define theories, note the contributions of theorists, examine the relationship of theory to practice, identify any gaps that exist, and provide implications for school social work practice.
This chapter provides an overview of the multitiered system of supports model and types of interventions that may be used in a school setting. Included in this chapter is a review of services that school social workers provide to students utilizing
MTSSto support family engagement and interventions that target social-emotional learning. Prevention efforts related to bullying, sexual harassment, school violence, and conflict resolution are presented as well. The authors emphasize the diverse needs of children served within public schools and the need to intervene in culturally humble and responsive ways while taking into consideration the specific needs of the school’s demographics and the unique culture of the school itself.
Assessment, one of the stages of social work practice, plays a key role in the delivery of effective services, and is used when selecting interventions, as well as monitoring the effectiveness of those interventions. This chapter examines assessment as both a product and an ongoing process, as is relevant to social work intervention in schools. Various types of assessments often utilized in school settings are explored, including social developmental study, functional behavioral assessment, classroom assessment, and school climate survey. This chapter includes an application of multidimensional assessment in the school setting. Additionally, the chapter describes assessment tools, including structured observations of students. It includes a discussion of the essential consideration of culture when assessing client systems of all sizes, including students, families, classrooms, schools, and communities.
This chapter focuses on emerging professional behavior and development. The authors present information on professionalism, professional identity, and professional standards. Specifically, this chapter discusses issues related to professional boundaries, effective communication, and clinical skills for assessing, intervening, and evaluating client progress. Furthermore, the chapter discusses ethical standards and some of the most common ethical issues that may arise in a school setting, including a timely focus on the technology standards found in the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics. Additional aspects of professionalism, such as the use of supervision, the benefits of professional organizations, and the importance of self-reflection are also discussed.