School social work is a specialized field within the social work profession. School Social Workers must meet criteria established by the Michigan Department of Education found in the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education, as well as having the credentials as a fully licensed school social worker. Each person employed as a School Social Worker at the must have earned a Master of Social Work degree, which includes a minimum of 500 clock hours of supervised social work practicum experience. Additionally, school social workers must have demonstrated knowledge and competency in four areas specifically related to working in an educational system:
As School Social Workers who work exclusively with and on behalf of students receiving or suspected of needing special education programs and services, School Social Workers provide a wide range of services. In the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (IDEA),the “definition of Social work services in schools includes – (i) Preparing a social or developmental history of a student with a disability; (ii) Group or individual counseling to the student and family; (iii) Working in partnership with parents and others on those problems in a student's living situation (home, school, and community) that affect the child's adjustment in school; (iv) Mobilizing school and community resources to enable the child to learn as effectively as possible in his or her educational program; and (v) Assisting in developing positive behavioral intervention strategies.” 34 CRF §300.34 Related Services. (14)
Using a wide array of evidence and research-based best practices, School Social Workers help students resolve or minimize the impact of social, emotional and behavioral problems which interfere with their adjustment and achievement in school. They help parents to better understand their children and to learn more about the programs and services available within the community. These services are provided through consultative support of educational staff, parents and families; by working with other mental health agencies and resources in the community; and with direct services to classrooms and peer groups that includes the special education student in need of school social work services.