Social workers in schools are not only a resource to educators and school administrators, but to students and their families, as well as a liaison between schools and their community.
What do school social workers do?
School social workers fulfill many important roles in an educational setting including:
- Identifying and addressing the emotional, social, behavior and educational needs of students
- Connecting children and families with community organizations that provide help outside of school
- Providing individual clinical services and serve as a liaison between school and home
- Linking parents, staff and students to mental health, medical, and social services
- Providing follow-up case management with teachers, and parents
In general, the industry of school social work is increasing and shows no signs of slowing down. It is estimated that the social work industry, overall, will increase 12% by 2024; this ensures security for social workers, particularly in school settings. This could mean potentially another 75,000 jobs for social workers, and this demonstrates that social work is one of the fastest-growing industries there is.
Why the demand is growing.
One possibility is the growth in stress, anxiety and suicide in youth in America. Research indicates between 18-20 percent of students have mental health issues significant enough to cause impairment to major life functions, yet only one in five receives the necessary services. And students with untreated mental health issues may develop more significant problems which can greatly impact their educational experience and result in poor educational outcomes and possibly dropping out of school.
Some powerful statistics to consider:
- According to data from the the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2015, an estimated 3 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This number represented 12.5% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17.
- In addition, about 30% of girls and 20% of boys–totaling 6.3 million teens–have had an anxiety disorder, according to data from the and the National Institute of Mental Health.
- The percentages of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes have nearly doubled (18% to 34%) from 2007-2016 (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016). In fact, according to teensafe.com, 34% of students have experienced cyberbullying about their looks, race, religion, sexuality, or learning disorder
- 28% percent of adolescents reported conflict in their home, 27% were having problems with their family, and 20% were concerned about their parent's relationship.
- Lastly and more alarmingly, since 2007, the rate of suicide deaths among children between the ages of 10 and 14 has doubled. In fact, according to healthychildren.org, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds.
What are the requirements to be a school social worker?
Individuals pursuing school social work careers will typically start by earning bachelor’s degrees in social work (BSW), and many areas also require that school social workers hold a Master of Social Work degree and are licensed (LMSW or LCSW). Licensure typically involves completing the required degree program and completing several hours of supervised fieldwork.
There are many schools that offer MSW degree programs, and for those already working in the educational field or social work full-time, considering accessibility such as an online program can be helpful in education advancement.
Get your online Master of Social Work and open-up the many opportunities to impact children, families, educators, and administrators. Florida State University's Online Master's in Social Work offers a convenient program that can turn your BA, BS, or BSW into a graduate degree that can lead toward clinical licensure and a well paying position as school social worker.