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Promoting Professional Development and High Quality Early Childhood and School-Age Programmes

III. EXPLORING POSITIONS

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Position 16: School Social Worker (Preparation Level 5)

Description: Social workers assist students' with behavioral, mental, emotional or physical problems; counsel children and families in trouble; arrange for needed child and/or family services; and help to integrate disabled students into the general school population. They also advise teachers on how to cope with problem students and serves as a liaison between student, home, school and community resources.

Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions: Knowledge of child and family development, children with special needs, cultural diversity issues, and a thorough understanding of community resources available to meet child and family needs. Communication and interpersonal skills are vital to this position along with problem solving and confidentiality.

Employment Settings: Social workers are employed in a variety of early childhood settings including:

Public School - See SECTION II.F
Private School - See SECTION II.E
Child care and education programs - See SECTIONS II.A, B, D
Head Start - See SECTION II.C

Qualifications: A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for many entry-level jobs but a master's degree in social work is usually required.

Most persons holding this position must be cleared through the NYS Central Registry of Child Abuse and fingerprints submitted to required authorities.

Preparation: Bachelor's or master's degree. Accredited programs require at least 400 hours of supervised field experience.

Typical Courses: Social work practice, human behavior, social work values and ethics, dealing with a culturally diverse clientele.

Process for Licensure: State certification, (SSWS) School Social Work Specialist.

Alternate Pathways: A bachelor's degree in psychology, biology, sociology, economics or a related field may be augmented by a master's degree in social work (MSW).

Job Outlook: Demand for social workers is higher than average occupations because of increased stress on families and children and the efforts to help immigrant families and children with special needs into a child care or school setting. However, each program only employs one or maybe a few school social workers so employment in a particular geographic setting may be limited.

Earnings: The national average earnings for school social workers in 1997 were ranged from $26,780 to $41,700 depending on setting and other variables. (Occupational Outlook, 2000)

Opportunity for Advancement: Some social workers go into private practice or maintain a private practice part time. Others become directors of community-based human service programs.

Related Careers:

Serving Children Directly – Individual therapy.

Serving Families Directly – Family counselors, mental health counselors, private practitioners, parent/family educators, clergy.