1 THE FUNCTION OF THE SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER IN THE BALTIMORE PUBLIC SCHOOLS Division of Special Services Department of Education Baltimore Public Schools 1953
2 The Function of the School Social Worker in the Baltimore Public Schools This statement was formulated by a committee of the School Social Work staff of the Division of Special Services in the Baltimore City Department of Education. This committee grew out of the staff's program of inservice training and developed as a response to a strongly felt need. It was a difficult, involved, and time-consuming job. I authorize its distribution with the utmost enthusiasm, for I feel it will be useful to all of our colleagues, in our own school system, in other systems, and in the f arflung reaches of related disciplines. ARTHUR LICHTENSTEIN Director Division of Special Services
3 Superintendent's Foreword As we have learned more about human behavior, it has become increasingly clear that the successful teaching and learning of factual material, skills, and above all the ability to distinguish among values must rest upon more than concern for the facts, the skills, and the values themselves. Unless the most careful attention is directed to understanding each child, to capitalizing upon his strengths and minimizing his weaknesses, much of the effort of both teacher and pupil will be wasted or frustrated. As a result of this knowledge the training of teachers has been substantially altered in recent years, with the result that many classroom teachers are now far more competent in dealing with the problems of emotional and social adjustment than all but the most creative were in the past. Despite the greatly increased sensitivity and competence of classroom teachers in this area, the problems of many children are such as to require the services of specialists who have the time, the facilities, and the professional training needed to deal with the most serious cases of malad justmen!. To fortify the work of the classroom teacher through the use of social case work, clinical psychology, and psychiatry, we have organized in the Baltimore Public Schools our Division of Special Services. Although the work of this Division involves the use of many different disciplines, much of what is accomplished comes about because of the skill and devotion of the School Social Workers. In providing bridges and channels of communication between the classroom and the home on the one hand, and the many specialized facilities of the community on the other, by seeing to it that every appropriate resource is brought to hear upon the case of each individual child who has special need, this staff makes it possible every year for many hundreds of children to gain greater profit from their education and to become stronger people. The entire staff of the Baltimore Public Schools is appreciative of the efforts and the success of this group of our colleagues. We are happy to present in this pamphlet a brief statement of the objectives they seek and the procedures they use. JOHN H. FISCHER Superintendent of Public Instruction
5 Parent Work with the parent, too, is an integral part of the process. The school social worker helps the parents to accept the child's need for help, and to understand what he, the responsible parent, can do to bring about desirable changes. As a relationship develops between worker and parent, they work together toward changing those factors in home, school, or community that are contributory to the problem and that can be changed. The worker not only makes kuown to the parent what school and other community resources are available to assist in dealing with the problem, but he also helps the parent to accept and to use these services. In all this, it should be noted, the parent continues to hold final responsibility and to make final decisions. (An exception is cases of neglect as defined by law.) WORK WITH DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Teacher The teacher is one of the most important persons in a child's life. With the teacher's help, the child learns not only the fundamentals of the subject matter of education, but also learns the give-and-take of personal relationships and how to get along in the group. If a child's progress begins to suffer or break down, the teacher may turn to the school social worker for help. From then on, the teacher and the worker share responsibility in trying to help the child reach desirable goals. By regular conferences, they, too, build a continuing relationship. It is a professional one on the child's behalf. With a teamwork approach they explore and evaluate the situation, each bringing his own specialized knowledge and skill to bear on the problem. They discuss what each is able to do or not do. They exchange information gained from their study of and experience with the child-the one chiefly from the standpoint of school, the other from the standpoint of home and community. They consider what the child himself can do. Principal The principal is responsible for his school. Not only is he the administrator, but also he has an intimate kuowledge of educational skills and problems of staff, pupils, and community. Because of this, the principal and school social worker consult each other regularly in order to plan for the best service of
6 the worker to the school and to the child. Both worker and principal come to rely on this mutual consultation. Other School The school social worker works cooperatively Personnel with other personnel within the school. The counselor, nurse, home visitor, reading or speech specialists, and others are resources of help, and it is the worker's responsibility to seek and to coordinate their services on hehalf of children with whom he is working. Each specialist contributes his own unique skill and understanding; through conference each works out how he may best help as a part of a team. Other Personnel in the Division of Special Services The school social worker likewise uses the teamwork approach in working with other staff members in the Division of Special Services-director, supervisor, consulting psychiatrists, and psychologists. The director is responsible for the Division's work, and workers consult him often 'about administrative matters such as the relation of school social service to the Department of Education as a whole. Through the worker's regular conferences with his supervisor, the two reach decisions ahout children who seem to require psychiatric or psychological consultation. In their ensuing consultations with the psychiatrist or the psychologist, the worker and supervisor pose questions based on their more intimate and continuing knowledge of the situationquestions, for example, about the effect of forces operating in the child's situation, about his personality generally, or about his capacity and readiness to benefit from help of such specialists or from further case work help. If psychological study or psychiatric treatment is recommended, the worker and supervisor consider where these may be obtained and steps in preparing child and parent to use them. Personnel in Other Divisions The school social worker works cooperatively with administrative and specialist personnel throughout the Department of Education. Matters of testing, placement, student employment, curriculum adjustment, and other special arrangements for a child are discussed with the appropriate divisions so that the best interests of the child may be served.
7 WORK WITH COMMUNITY AGENCIES AND GROUPS Resources The school social worker is responsible for knowing resources of the community available to the child and family, the function of these agencies and groups, and the process involved in referring parents and children to them. The resource agency recommended by the worker depends on the child's or family's problem. If family or child is ready for such referral, the worker helps them to contact the agency; if they are not ready, he is responsible for helping them to decide whether or not they want to use the agency (when there is a choice) and also how to do so. This process may require a long-term or short-term contact before decision is reached. One community resource used is the Juvenile Court. Cases of neglect, dependency, delinquency, and non-attendance are brought into Court by the school social worker through the Division's court representative.* Records and Research The school social worker keeps confidential running records. They are essential to continuity, planning, review, and evaluation of work. Records facilitate transferring a case from one worker to another and sharing with another agency the Division's contact with family or child. In addition to these immediate uses, records serve as a body of data for research in such areas as emotional disorders, social maladjustment, and unmet community needs. Consu'tation OTHER RESPONSIBILITIESOF THE SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER The school social worker provides a consultation service for school personnel regarding children who mayor may not be referred later for service. For example, members of the school staff often want to discuss behavior or adjustment of certain children, or their own understanding of a child's development, or how they are working with a child in the classroom, or how they feel about a child's relationship to them individually. This type of consultation is an effective preventive service. * Not all children who go to court are referred to a school social worker.
8 Interpretation and Inherent in the school social worker's Community Planning job is the responsibility to bring to school and community an interpretation of his function, as well as an awareness of other services offered by the Division of Special Services and especially its integration with social agencies and groups in the community at large. As representatives of a participating agency, school social workers take part in community movements to deal with problems of unmet needs. Workshops for Teachers School social workers are responsible for planning with the director for workshops on subjects suggested by teachers in fields related to Division services, and for participating in them. Service to The program of "Highwood", the farm-like school Highwood for boys who are presenting problems of emotional or social maladjustment, has the services of a school social worker. t Work with Training Schools A school social worker renders short-term service to children who are released or paroled from state training schools for delinquent children. Primarily this function is to effect helpful and adequate school placements for boys and girls returning to their communities. Waivers of Tuition Fee In some situations, it is necessary for children of non-resident parents to attend Baltimore public schools. In cases where paying tuition is impossible, applicants are referred to the Division of Special Services to consider whether or not they meet eligibility requirements for waiver of tuition fees. A school social worker interviews applicants and makes tentative recommendation; the final decision rests with the Board of School Commissioners. t Construction is under way on a similar known as the Bragg School. school for Negro boys, to be