A school social worker acts as an advocate for students, guiding them through a range of issues such as emotional or behavioral problems, disabilities, and difficulties at home in order to help them succeed in school. Typical duties of a school social worker may include leading individual or group talk sessions, speaking to classes about relevant topics such as self-esteem or bullying, and consulting with students’ families. She may be based in one school or may travel to several schools throughout the week. Most schools require social workers to have an advanced degree and certification in the field of social work.
In essence, the job of a school social worker is to help students navigate the many challenges that may confront them, both in school and outside of it, as they proceed through their education. Some of these students may face serious issues, such as abuse in the home or mental health difficulties. Others may need advice as they begin to consider a career path or find themselves subject to peer pressure. In some cases, a school social worker may intervene for teachers who are having trouble connecting with a particular student. The goal of the social worker is to help students manage their unique challenges so they can succeed in school.
Some school social workers spend a large part of their workdays leading individual or group talk sessions during which students can discuss their problems and seek advice. They may also speak to classes in order to educate students about relevant topics, such as resisting drugs or handling sexual abuse. Often, a school social worker acts as a liaison between a child’s school and his family. As such, the social worker may be required to meet with parents either at their child’s school or in their home to discuss the child’s progress and, in some cases, to evaluate the safety of the home environment.
Certain school social workers are fully based in one school. Others are hired by a district to serve several schools. These social workers usually visit each assigned school on a rotating basis.
While the exact requirements to become a school social worker vary by country or region, many schools hire only those individuals who have completed a master’s degree in social work with a concentration in the area of education. Furthermore, many countries or states require school social workers to hold certification in the field. Often, this certification is earned through the completion of a master’s degree as well as a social work internship.