- If my child talks to a School Social Worker, will they be labeled as “crazy” or tagged in the school system?
No. While the school does keep records of interactions and communication with students, there are no special tags or labels for those receiving support and no one is labeled “crazy”. Today, counseling services and therapy are very common supports. Getting help to address mental health concerns or life stressors is viewed as a strength, not a weakness. Part of a School Social Worker’s role is to undo any negative stigma that students might have about receiving help.
- So…you just take kids away, right?
No. While some Social Workers employed within the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), do relocate children who live in unsafe, neglectful or otherwise dangerous home situations, most Social Workers focus their efforts on keeping the family unit together. School Social Workers in particular, spend most of their time providing support to students and their families, trying to offer resources in areas of need. Social Work is a broad field too; jobs can be found in academic, medical, community, geriatric and clinical settings.
- Can you help my student with their anger problems, relationship woes and other issues they are having?
Yes. However, they first have to want to change or be open to the help. School Social Workers don’t have a magic wand to fix everyone and everything, but they do have training, techniques and evidence-based practices that have been shown to help in areas of dealing with anger, relationships, drug addiction and other issues. School Social Workers believe every student has strengths, and this is how we base our practice—on the student’s strengths. From there on, we start to look at areas that people want to change in their lives.
- I am interested in services for my child. How can I get started?
The best way for this to happen is to make an appointment with your child’s Academic Counselor. They will meet with you, explore your particular situation and help determine if additional referral to the School Social Worker is necessary. If recommended, the student might receive services at school (brief intervention, individual counseling or group counseling) or they may be referred to an outside agency. Each situation is handled with the utmost respect and care, with a plan created to meet every student/family’s unique needs.
- I found a note about my child wanting to die. Should I talk to them about it or just take them out for a fun afternoon without directly addressing the issue? I think they’ll get over it, right?
It is extremely important to address any instance of suicidal thoughts or self-harming behavior. There are hotlines and local resources specifically designed to address such concerns. Call 911 if you believe your child is in immediate danger. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 to talk with a supportive counselor who can provide additional resources.