School social work practice


Published on

A write-up on school social work practice

Published in: Education, Technology
No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

School social work practice

  1. 1. School Social Work Practice – Connecting Schools, Families and Communities Submitted to: Dr Cherian P Kurien, School of Social Work, Marian College, Kuttikkanam. Submitted by: Bimal Antony, II MSW, No. 111, School of Social Work, Marian College, Kuttikkanam. Date of Submission: 7th March 2012.
  2. 2. E-mail: Mobile: +91 9995006062 Introduction Communities matter in the lives of young people. Good schools are essential—but even strong schools alone are not sufficient to ensure success for many young people. In tough neighborhoods, and especially in large urban areas, schools can become disconnected from other assets, isolated from community leadership and concerns, and fragmented in their approach to young people‘s development. Working together, schools, families, and community organizations can reconnect schools to their communities and improve results for young people and their families. School Social Work The school social work role is unique in its focus on the student in the school environment in order to facilitate successful learning outcomes through the relief of distress and removal of barriers or inequities. Students within schools have diverse abilities and needs. All students are entitled to a quality educational environment which: • promotes the total development of the child – intellectual, physical, social, creative, emotional; and • creates learning outcomes which enable the young adult to take a satisfying role in their society and to have fair access to its resources. School social workers have unique access to and ability to work with individuals, groups and communities at the interface between the student, school organisation and curriculum, peers, family, neighbourhood and wider society. Not all social work service delivery in schools can be seen as school social work. A service can be called school social work only if the primary goal is achievement of student learning potential and involve particular methods of working. These include coordinating and influencing the efforts of the school, family and community to achieve this goal. School social workers therefore require knowledge and skills in the six main areas of practice: • Direct Practice with students/families/school personnel • School Social Work Service Management • School Development and System Change • Education, School and other Policy • Research into education, family, child/youth issues • Education & Professional Development.
  3. 3. E-mail: Mobile: +91 9995006062 Levels of School Social Work intervention Below are some examples of school social work service delivery, although most school social work activities might be called into play at any level: • Prevention −− Parent information and education; development of student welfare policies,guidelines, programs, strategies and activities; provision of professional development for teachers; research into student issues; community service planning. • Early Intervention −− Group work with students with particular needs; development of innovative programs to meet needs; consultation with teachers or families; Implementation of student supports; counselling or casework; review of school issues or policy. • Intervention −− Counselling or casework; referral to other services; consultation with teachers; school policy change; individual crisis intervention; community crisis management; critical incident management. Knowledge and skills base of school social work practice The school social worker applies social work knowledge and skills to the specific area of social work practice within the school setting. Essential to school social work is the recognition that the individual student‘s successful outcomes in education are influenced by personal, family, social, political and economic factors. This interactive dual focus of analysis: individual and systemic, private and public, distinguishes the theory and practice of social work from other helping professions. As a specific area of social work practice, school social work practice knowledge necessarily includes: • multiple levels of analysis to encompass causal impacts on human life in terms of an ecological systems framework; • all methods of generalist social work intervention to address both student difficulties and public issues including: −− Casework Individual counselling with the child or young person, parent/carer, or school personnel; family counselling; advocacy; consultation; linking students and families to community resources; personal / family crisis intervention.
  4. 4. E-mail: Mobile: +91 9995006062 −− Group work Parent education; therapeutic groups work; personal or social skills education groups for students. −− Community development Provision of professional development for teachers; social action; liaison with wider community; student welfare, school curriculum and social policy analysis and development. −− Critical Incident Management Awareness of how people can be affected by traumatic incidents and emergencies; planning for school emergency responses; provision of counselling and support; monitoring recovery and evaluation of plans. −− Research Searching through literature bases for knowledge to inform practice, evaluation of research studies, evaluation of social policy, planning and implementation of research projects, and critical evaluation of the school social worker‘s own practice. −− Administration Record-keeping; management; programme development and coordination; evaluation of individual practice and organisational service delivery; staff induction, training and supervision. • school social work demands: the specific ability to communicate well with, and particularly to listen to children and young people in order to see their experiences within their world from their perspective; an understanding of child and youth sub-culture impacts; and the ability to advocate for the child or young person within school, family and other systems that are adult dominant; • practice skills include: interpersonal and communication skills in child and adult settings; skills in reflective and critical thinking and analysis; data collection and management; negotiation and mediation. Consultation with principals, teachers and other professional workers from community agencies is an essential school social work skill; • skills in making assessments and deciding on the most appropriate intervention with which to respond to particular student situations, judgements of this kind being intrinsic to social work; • skills in recognising and thinking through ethical issues, again a fundamental component of social work practice, involving commitment to the AASW Code of Ethics; and • the contexts of school social work practice at local, national and international levels. Understanding in this area requires knowledge of, and the ability to critically analyse, social, political, economic, historical, cultural and ecological systems, particularly as they impact on
  5. 5. E-mail: Mobile: +91 9995006062 school systems and individual student learning outcomes. The processes, facilitators and constraints to school change need to be understood, also the trends or evolutions of school systems. School social workers also need to be able to critically analyse the structure of society, and schools as a socializing institution, with particular attention to dimensions of power and disadvantage, and the influence of class, gender, age, intellectual and physical ability, heterosexism, race, ethnicity and cultural differences. There must be a focus on empowering and non oppressive practice. Schools and Community Schools are connected to organizations and resources in the community through formal and informal partnerships and working relationships. These partnerships between schools, families, and community organizations can improve results by: • Strengthening schools and improving their power to help young people succeed. • Improving transitions for young people across developmental levels and learning environments. • Building the capacity of parents and community organizations to support young people‘s healthy development. • Preparing young people for college and careers. • Strengthening neighbourhoods and entire communities. Ways Families Connect with Schools Current research reveals that there are many different activities that connect families and schools. Often these activities are quite different from each other, yet they are lumped together as ―parent involvement‖ or ―school-family connections.‖ Some researchers emphasize activities that take place at the school in their definition of parent involvement, such as parental attendance at school events and participation in parent-teacher organizations (PTOs). Others include activities that take place in the home that support student achievement, such as parental homework help and discussions about school issues between parents and children. Still others include abstract concepts as well as actual involvement behaviours in their definition, such as parent aspirations for a child‘s education. Several authors have developed frameworks for understanding the various types and components of parent-school connections (Chrispeels, 1992, 1996, as cited in Chrispeels & Rivero, 2000; Eccles & Harold, 1996; Epstein, 1995; Grolnick & Slowiaczek, 1994, as cited in Kohl, Lengua, & McMahon, 2000; Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997). Joyce Epstein‘s framework of six types of family involvement (1995) is frequently cited in research and has been adopted by many
  6. 6. E-mail: Mobile: +91 9995006062 practitioners, most notably the National Parent Teacher Association (National PTA, 1998). Epstein‘s framework outlines six dimensions of parent-school partnerships: Type 1 Parenting – Assisting families with parenting skills and setting home conditions to support children as students, as well as assisting schools to understand families. Type 2 Communicating – Conducting effective communications from school-to-home and from home-to-school about school programs and student progress. Type 3 Volunteering – Organizing volunteers and audiences to support the school and students. Providing volunteer opportunities in various locations and at various times. Type 4 Learning at Home – Involving families with their children on homework and other curriculum-related activities and decisions. Type 5 Decision Making – Including families as participants in school decisions and developing parent leaders and representatives. Type 6 Collaborating with the Community – Coordinating resources and services from the community for families, students, and the school, and providing services to the community. Cataloguing these kinds of activities is a useful step, but more work is needed to capture the variety of forms that family-school connections can take and create a common language in the field. The variety of definitions makes it difficult to compare studies and models of parent involvement to one another. They also make analysis of the findings of multiple studies a challenge. For practitioners, this lack of clarity may lead to difficulty in making judgments about what kinds of activities to implement, how to implement them, and what results to expect from them. Ways Communities Connect with Schools Similarly, many different kinds of activities fall under the heading of ―community connections with schools.‖ One researcher may define a school-community connection as a formal partnership between the school and another local organization. Another may highlight learning opportunities for students that take them out of the classroom and into the community for real-life experiences such as job internships and community research projects. Community connections might involve individual community members as educational partners, as well as community organizations such as businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies. Still other researchers may look at the role of the school in the larger community—as a community center or a community institution that can play a role in community development efforts. There is even variation in the very way the term ―community‖ is defined. Cahill (1996) suggests that community can be defined using geographical, philosophical, political, sociological, or economic terms.
  7. 7. E-mail: Mobile: +91 9995006062 A General Accounting Office (GAO) report to Congress (Shaul, 2000) identified a set of common elements found in school-community connections, including: • Services and activities tailored to community needs and resources, with the flexibility to change as community needs change. • A value for and encouragement of parent participation and individual attention from caring adults. • An understanding that support for the family is integral to improving outcomes for children and youth. • Active roles for parents, students, community residents, and organizations in guiding policy and practices through such entities as advisory committees. • A continuing emphasis on the importance of collaboration and communication among school and community partners. Differences in perceptions of appropriate roles Stakeholders (educators, parents, community members, students) may have opposing viewpoints about what constitutes involvement and what their roles should be. For instance, Scribner, Young, and Pedroza (1999) found that teachers tend to define parent involvement differently than parents do. Teachers tended to view a parent‘s role solely as a support for academic achievement while parents viewed it as a means of supporting the total well-being of the child (i.e., social and moral development). Because school personnel and parents may conceptualize parent involvement activities and outcomes differently, there is a need to more fully explore teacher and parent perspectives about what constitutes appropriate collaboration and what role each can and should play in a child‘s education (Izzo et al., 1999). An emphasis on school-centered definitions of family and community involvement While individuals within schools, communities, and families may have a range of beliefs about what constitutes appropriate school, family, and community connections, a review of the literature suggests that overall, definitions of connections that most closely reflect the priorities of schools have dominated both research and practice. Schools have largely been in the position to define what family and community involvement ―is‖ and what the outcomes should be. These school- centered definitions of family and community involvement can be seen in both research and practice. Honig et al. (2001) contend that ―the focus of many school-linked services efforts has
  8. 8. E-mail: Mobile: +91 9995006062 been on ‗fixing‘ students so teachers can ‗really teach‘ and removing barriers to learning, rather than rethinking the learning and teaching that occurs for students—all day, in and out of school— and the conditions, resources and supports that enable it‖ (p. 9). Edwards and Warin (1999) agree that parent involvement efforts sometimes operate to enlist parents as agents of the schools to meet the school‘s needs—in essence turning parents into ―assistant teachers‖—instead of utilizing a parent‘s unique strengths as a child‘s motivator and nurturer. Generally, the most important goal for schools is increased academic achievement of students; therefore, educators tend to value family and community connections because of their potential for supporting this goal, sometimes at the expense of family or community member goals (Scribner et al., 1999). Many researchers, theorists, and practitioners in the field agree that school-centered definitions do not fully express the range of connections that can and do exist (Edwards & Warin, 1999; McWilliam, Maxwell & Sloper, 1999). A continued emphasis on school-centered connections can limit the development of the entire field and its ability to identify and forge new directions for greater impact on student outcomes. Jordan, Averett, Elder, Orozco, and Rudo (2000) define ―collaboration‖ as an arrangement in which partners establish joint goals and priorities, as well as shared responsibility for success. Partnerships that do not define a common mission are rarely able to sustain the long-term collaborative relationship and sharing of resources necessary to accomplishing substantive goals. This emphasis on school-centered definitions of connections can also create a significant power imbalance in the school-family-community relationship. Schools are generally backed up by powerful and stable institutional structures that support the school‘s definition of the roles parents and community members should play. This institutional structure infuses power into the position of ―the principal‖ and ―the teacher‖ in the education of the child, while the family or community member role is not automatically infused with similar power (Hulsebosch & Logan, 1998). Why Is Family, Community, and School Collaboration Important? Schools are located in communities, but are often ―islands‖ with no bridges to the ―mainland.‖ Families live in neighbourhoods, often with little connection to each other or to the schools their children attend. Nevertheless, all these entities affect each other, for good or ill. Because of this and because they share goals related to education and socialization of the young, schools, homes, and communities must collaborate with each other if they are to minimize problems and maximize results. Dealing with multiple, interrelated concerns, such as poverty, child development, education, violence, crime, safety, housing, and employment requires multiple and interrelated solutions. Promoting well-being, resilience, and protective factors and empowering families, communities, and schools also requires the concerted effort of all stakeholders. Schools are more effective and caring places when they are an integral and positive part of the community. This plays out as enhanced academic performance, fewer discipline problems, higher staff morale,
  9. 9. E-mail: Mobile: +91 9995006062 and improved use of resources. Reciprocally, families and other community entities can enhance parenting and socialization, address psychosocial problems, and strengthen the fabric of family and community life by working collaboratively with schools. Why Collaboration Is Needed Concern about violence at schools provides opportunities for enhancing connections with families and other neighbourhood resources. However, in too many cases, those responsible for school safety act as if violence on the campus had little to do with home and community. Children and adolescents do not experience such a separation—for them violence is a fact of life. The problem goes well beyond the widely reported incidents that capture media attention. For children, the most common forms of violence are physical, sexual, and psychosocial abuse experienced at school, at home, and in the neighbourhood. There are no good data on how many youngsters are affected by all the forms of violence or how many are debilitated by such experiences. But no one who works to prevent violence would deny that the numbers are large. Far too many youngsters are caught up in cycles where they are the recipient or perpetrator (and sometimes both) of harassment ranging from excessive teasing, bullying, and intimidation to mayhem and major criminal acts. Clearly, the problem is widespread and is linked with other problems that are significant barriers to development, learning, parenting, teaching, and socialization. As a consequence, single-factor solutions will not work. This is why guides to safe school planning emphasize such elements as schoolwide prevention, intervention, and emergency response strategies, positive school climate, partnerships with law enforcement, mental health and social services, and family and community involvement. (See the other titles in the ―Effective Strategies for Creating Safer Schools and Communities‖ series for information on these areas of emphasis.) The need is for a full continuum of interventions—ranging from primary prevention, through interventions as early after onset as is feasible, to treatment of individuals with severe, pervasive, and chronic problems. School and community policymakers must quickly move to embrace comprehensive, multifaceted schoolwide and communitywide approaches. And, they must do so in a way that fully integrates such approaches with school improvement efforts at every school site. Conclusion In general, those pushing for ―connection‖ from the community side want to strengthen neighborhoods, families, and schools. For example, Schorr (1997) describes promising community-school-family initiatives from this perspective. Her analysis concludes that a synthesis is emerging that ―rejects addressing poverty, welfare, employment, education, child
  10. 10. E-mail: Mobile: +91 9995006062 development, housing, and crime one at a time. It endorses the idea that the multiple and interrelated problems . . . require multiple and interrelated solutions.‖ Warren (2005) argues that for urban school reform to be successful, it must be linked to the revitalization of the surrounding communities. He categorizes current school-community collaborations as involving (1) the service approach, which he equates with the community full service schools movement; (2) the development approach, seen as embodied in community sponsorship of new schools such as charter schools; and (3) the organizing approach involving direct efforts of community organizing groups to foster collaboration with schools. References 1. Linda Taylor, Ph.D, Howard S. Adelman, Ph.D (2000): Connecting Schools, Families and Communities, California: ASCA. 2. Chris Barrett, Chris Downing, John Frederick, Linda Johannsen & Donna Riseley (2008): Practice Standards for School Social Workers, Canberra: Australian Association of Social Workers. 3. Linda Taylor, Ph.D, Howard S. Adelman, Ph.D (2008): Fostering School, Family, and Community Involvement, Washington: Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence. 4. Jeanne Jehl (2007): Connecting SCHOOLS, FAMILIES & COMMUNITIES, Maryland: The Annie E. Casey Foundation. 5. Catherine Jordan, Evangelina Orozco, Amy Averett (2001): Emerging Issues in School, Family, & Community Connections, Texas: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL). 6. Debbie Ellis, Kendra Hughes (2002): partnerships by design - Cultivating Effective and Meaningful School-Family-Community Partnerships, Portland: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. 7. Robert Constable (2008): The Role of the School Social Worker, Chicago: Loyola University.