LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Social workers in schools are investments in future

This is a response to the article, Student mental health is concern for schools, published Oct. 22

Recent reports have come out highlighting the concerns districts have in keeping pace with the mental health needs of their students. While it is positive that this has evolved as a priority for many school administrators across the state, the solutions are stymied by a lack of funding. When budgets are under pressure, services to support well-being are either overlooked or typically the first to be slashed. There is also a common misconception that services performed by a school social worker can be assumed by other personnel.

In 2015, the School Social Work Task Force of the National Association of Social Workers — New York State Chapter collaborated with the New York State School Social Workers Association to develop “A Self-Advocacy Resource Guide”, a “how to” resource for social workers in educating parents, teachers, school administrators, boards of education, and the greater community about the essential and unique role they play in meeting educational goals and standards, as well as the importance of investing in health and mental health services.

It has been well-documented that there are a multitude of factors — poverty, substance abuse, community violence, emotional and physical health issues, early sexual activity and family conflicts, that conspire to make it difficult for some young people to make it through school. Such issues are beyond the scope and purview of teachers, and only fall within the scope of practice of school social workers.

Advocating for adequate school social work services in our schools is an investment in our children’s future. It’s time for the state to move beyond awareness and into implementation.

Ron Bunce


Source: In Your Opinion: Social workers in schools are investments in future, The Daily Star Oneonta, 11.7.17

Author: NASW-NYS