National School Social Work Week is marked every first full week of March to celebrate school social workers across the nation and appreciate their work in helping students achieve academic success. Did you know social work began in U.S. schools over 110 years ago by visiting teachers? School social workers are professionals within the social work field that work with teachers, parents, and school administrators. They help students deal with mental health and behavioral challenges and provide academic and classroom support. They also help in developing education policies, work with crisis interventions, and identify and report child neglect and abuse. School social workers mainly work in primary and secondary schools.
History of National School Social Work Week
School social work is a specialized subdivision of the social work field, and its history is not complete without exploring how social work became a profession in the U.S. Social work is itself rooted in charity, which sprung up from the actions of various religious organizations. The earliest factual and organized works of charity can be traced to the fourth century when the Roman Emperor, Constantine I, endorsed Christianity.
With the backing of the Roman Empire, the church established burial societies, poorhouses, homes for the aged, orphanages, hospitals, and shelters across the ancient Rome cities. These continued until the 17th century, with the Christian church stepping in to provide relief and large-scale charitable activities, as the European governments of that time had no capacity for such endeavors.
The Industrial Revolution moved charitable activities from the responsibility of the church and family to that of the state, leading to the creation of social welfare services and professional social workers. However, since poverty was the focused social problem, early social work was still linked to charity work. The early 20th century expanded the social work framework, taking a more professional and scientific approach.
Around this period, from 1907 to 1908, school social work began in the United States. It began with visiting teachers and getting involved in improving student attendance and building close-knitted relationships between home and school. The ‘visiting teacher movement’ grew in the 1920s when supporters saw the need to address increasing juvenile delinquency and social maladjustment.
The growing number of visiting teachers led to the establishment of the National Association of Visiting Teachers, later changed to the American Association of School Social Workers in 1945, and then the National Association of Social Workers in 1955. In 1994, the government included school social workers in the American Education Act. In July of that year, the School Social Work Association of America was founded by 64 school social workers across the U.S.
National School Social Work Week FAQs
What is the difference between a school counselor and a school social worker?
School counselors usually focus on helping students achieve their academic goals by organizing one-to-one or group-based counseling sessions. On the other hand, school social workers focus on helping individual students obtain the needed support for better academic and social performance.
What experience do you need to be a school social worker?
A prospective school social worker must obtain a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in social work, with a school internship experience. However, these requirements vary from state to state.
Is school social work stressful?
Like every other job, school social work can be stressful depending on the environment and the challenges and problems they have to navigate and solve. However, most school social workers tend to overlook the stress as they believe the job is worth it.
How to Observe National School Social Work Week
Get a proclamation signed
While National School Social Work Week was founded and promoted by the S.S.W.A.A, it’s still not yet officially recognized in some states. If you love the work that school social workers are doing, you can help get the National School Social Work Week proclamation signed by your state governor.
Get the social workers in your school a gift
If you have social workers that have impacted your life or your school directly or indirectly, get them a gift. A branded mug, free lunch, thank-you cards, flowers, and cookies are some of the gifts you could get. If you work in a school, you can organize a small office appreciation event, with decorations and presents.
Promote school social work
Another way to celebrate National School Social Work Week is to use your social media presence to promote the week through the fantastic works that school social workers have done. You can also put up branded posters in your school.
5 Interesting Facts About Social Workers
The largest mental health service providers
Statistics from the U.S. government show that professional social workers deliver 60% of mental health treatment.
Social workers need to earn a degree
To become a social worker, they need to have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in social work and a minimum number of hours in supervised fieldwork.
Social workers work in almost all fields
You can find social workers in various fields, including corporate organizations, police departments, military facilities, and hospitals.
They occupy political elected offices
Over 170 social workers can be found in political offices on the local, state, and national levels, including the Senate and House of Representatives.
It can be a criminal offense
Operating as a social worker without the relevant degree and registering with the regulatory body can land you in jail.
Why National School Social Work Week is Important
It recognizes the value of school social workers
School social workers’ impact on social and academic development cannot be overstated, which is why it’s essential to set aside special time to appreciate their effort. Use this School Social Work Week to appreciate the social workers in your school and show them how much you care about them and the work they do for the students, school, and the parents.
School social workers are essential to students
School social workers move beyond the classroom to investigate the root cause of a student’s academic and behavioral challenges. Once the causes are discovered, they recommend solutions and provide social services that help tackle them.
School social workers help facilitate students’ academic success and wellbeing
School social workers help students with behavioral, emotional, and developmental challenges, including those with learning disabilities and living through traumatic experiences and drug addicts. They liaise with the school and parents to assess the condition of these students and provide assistance to enable the student to achieve academic excellence and emotional wellbeing.
National School Social Work Week dates