Keys to Working Effectively With Public Schools

Social Worker Resource
September 12, 2012 — 1,549 views  
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Whether you are taking your place as a public school’s social worker, or your work is bringing you in increasing contact with public schools, you need to make sure that you are in a place where you can do your job effectively. Public schools can be frustrating to deal with, so take the time to consider these important tips.

Get To Know Everyone

If you have an opportunity to talk with school staff, no matter what they do, take it. You know that you need to be comfortable with the administrative staff, but don’t forget people like custodians, bus drivers, class monitors and substitutes. The more you can make yourself a part of the school community, the more likely it is that you will be getting good information.

Know the Law Inside and Out

No matter how well-funded the public school is, you cannot expect the staff to know the ins and outs of the law regarding the benefit of children. Most teachers understand that they need to report signs of abuse or distress, but the truth is that beyond that, most school administrators are in the dark. Review the local statues, and be sure that you can cite them on command. This allows you to move and to act quickly if you need to.

Be Honest

If a school administrator asks you a question, be as clear and honest as you can while still respecting the privacy of the families and students involved. Too many public school administrators have a combative or antagonistic relationship with social workers because they feel as though they are being left out of the loop. Be honest and straightforward, but also be blunt when you cannot disclose certain information.

Understand the School’s Position

Many, if not most public schools are underfunded and understaffed, leaving teachers and administrators feeling stretched and frustrated. Understand the position of the school’s staff, and do not be accusing when you speak with them. While you will be frustrated and even angry with the situations you may see, there is no profit in making an enemy of the school staff. 

If you are taking over as the social worker at a new public school, you may be overwhelmed by all of the new information that is coming your way. Stay calm, develop a plan and make sure that you get to know the public school itself.

Social Worker Resource