A Typical Day for a High School Social Worker

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January 28, 2008 at 5:10 pm  •  Posted in Schools and Communities by  •  0 Comments

By Andrea Centerrino, MSW, LICSW, QCSW

Introduction
A Potentially Suicidal Student?
Supporting a Student with an Emotional Disability
Conclusion

Introduction

A typical day for the high school social worker is unpredictable, yet always interesting. Before the first bell rings, a student walks into the office to report that the police were at his house last night to raid his apartment for possible drugs. Fortunately, no drugs were found, but the stress of the incident means today will be a rough day for this student; homework did not get done, and emotions are on edge. The social worker processes the incident with the student and helps him come up with a plan to cope with the day.

A Potentially Suicidal Student?

A teacher stops in during first period to report concerns that one of her students wrote a paper with a suicidal theme and wants the social worker to explore this further; after meeting with the student and talking to parents, a decision is made to refer the student for further evaluation. While regularly scheduled appointments with other students have to be rescheduled due to the incident, this kind of collaboration and response may very well have saved the life of a teenager.

A moment later, a sophomore girl in tears comes by to report she just broke up with her boyfriend and wants to go home. After a brief period of discussion and listening, the girl says she feels better and agrees to return to class.

Supporting a Student with an Emotional Disability

It’s midday and the school social worker’s presence is needed at a meeting for a student with an emotional disability. The parent is distressed and in need of some supports in order to more effectively address their child’s issues. The social worker meets with the parent alone after the meeting for almost an hour and then follows up with referrals to some community agencies that may help stabilize the family’s living situation.

The social worker then meets with her regularly scheduled appointment; a parenting teenager in need of child care in order to be able to stay in school. Further discussion reveals that the teenager also needs health insurance for herself and her child, as well as possible housing.

The student, who has no phone of her own at her current residence, makes calls from the School Social Worker’s office to request insurance eligibility forms, and to call community resources to find out about housing availability. This process is time consuming; the Social Worker encourages the student to advocate for herself as much as possible, but sits with her to help. Ultimately, a lot of information is gathered and the process for obtaining tangible help has begun. An appointment is scheduled for the next day to follow up.

The Social Worker understands that success in school extends beyond academics. The role of the School Social Worker is to look at the big picture; understanding the obstacles to learning often mean assisting students with many different aspects of their lives. In this way, School Social Workers have a unique view of school or learning issues. School Social Workers are most often the ones who reach out to parents and other community agencies, and act as a liaison among all the support systems in a student’s life.

Conclusion

The day continues with phone calls to various agencies and community resources; during this time a student with behavioral issues comes by to report s/he has just stormed out of class and is very angry; after working with the student to calm down, and consulting with the teacher and administrators, the student returns to class.

The final bell of the day rings and it has been an action packed day. A tentative schedule is planned out for tomorrow- but who knows what the day will actually bring!

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