Celebrated every March, Social Work Month recognizes and highlights the significant contributions of social workers. With approximately 600,000 social workers in the United States, roughly five percent are school social workers. Although this percentage may seem small, school social workers serve as an important liaison between school, home, and the community.
Social workers are tasked with finding solutions to the some of the most challenging issues that individuals, families, and communities experience. In helping individuals and families overcome difficulties and reach full potential, social workers help make our nation a safer place. Likewise, school social workers focus on helping students reach their full potential in order to support academic success.
According the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), “[school social workers] work directly with school administrations as well as students and families, providing leadership in forming school discipline policies, mental health intervention, crisis management, and support services.” To give you a better idea, school social workers form part of an interdisciplinary team to assist in mitigating and addressing topics like:
- School violence and aggression
- Traumatic events
- Policy development and reform
- Substance abuse education
- Suicide prevention
- Attendance among at-risk students
- Students with special needs or learning disabilities
With many factors impacting academic progress, such as poverty, substance abuse, family conflict, community violence, and mental health, school social workers are among the best equipped school community leaders. From designing preventative programs to providing psychological and emotional support, social workers are experts at intervention, prevention and education. Through supportive services and cross collaboration, school social workers are an integral part of the school community.
So in honor of Social Work Month, we’d like tip our hats to school social workers. Thank you for keeping students safe and advocating for student success.
If you’d like to help us celebrate Social Work Month, nominate a social worker as a Safe and Sound Hero. Share your nominees by providing us with the following:
- Brief explanation of why your social worker should be a SASS Hero and how they keep you safe
- Name, school or community affiliation, and a picture, if possible, so we can give them a shout out on our social our social media channels
We’ll share their stories on our social media platforms. You can also nominate a group of social workers. Share your nominees by tagging us on social media and including the hashtag #SASSHero or by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for helping us celebrate social workers this month.
References: National Association of Social Workers
January, February, and March have come and gone with Safe and Sound Schools bringing its message to new communities and new social media channels.
This year’s first quarter started with the culmination of the Shine A Light for Safer Schools campaign, the holiday fundraiser we launched last November. Safe and Sound Schools raised over $3,500 through online and mail donations, some of which has already been used to update our free online materials and website.
By mid January, Safe and Sound Schools turned its focus to onboarding new students from PRLab, Boston University’s student-run public relations agency. This is Safe and Sound Schools’ fourth time working with PRLab students who help the organization meet its outreach initiatives. We are lucky to have such great talent from BU to support our growing organization!
In the months of February and March, Safe and Sound team members travelled to several communities across the country. Michele travelled across the state of Tennessee, presenting to full houses of school administrators, educators, mental health professionals, and law enforcement in Knoxville, Murfreesboro, and Jackson, Tennessee. She then made her way to the Midwest to present to an audience of over 150 at the 2016 Tuscarawas County School Safety Summit in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. Michele concluded her February travels in Baltimore, Maryland. Joined by her husband, Bob Gay, Michele accepted a $20,000 endowment award from the BFG Community Foundation, an organization dedicated to affecting positive change in local communities by supporting charitable organizations.
In early March, Frank DeAngelis, Safe and Sound speaker & former principal of Columbine High School and Paul Timm, Safe and Sound advisor & author of School Security: How to Build and Strengthen a School Safety Program, presented at the Axis School Safety Symposium in Syracuse, NY. On the same day, Michele traveled back to the South, to Decatur, Alabama, where she presented to a room of approximately 400 administrators, educators, law enforcement, and mental health professionals at the 14th Annual Alabama Child Safety Conference.
By mid March, Safe and Sound Schools launched it’s new website, complete with new additions, including a Press Room, Speaker’s Bureau, and an improved user-friendly interface. We’ll continue to add to the site this year.
March also found us busy in Massachusetts, with Michele attending the Massachusetts Juvenile Police Officers Association conference and working with three local school districts, to support the unique efforts of each community to improve school safety. We are excited to see our collaborative model take hold close to home and across the country!
Communications efforts continued with Safe and Sound Schools using social media platforms to celebrate social work month, highlighting and celebrating the contributions and positive impact social workers have on school safety and children. We concluded March and social work month with featured guest blogger & Safe and Sound Schools advisor, Shari Nacson, a Cleveland-based clinical social worker specializing in child development.
To keep up with Safe and Sound Schools daily, connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and now, Instagram. Stay tuned for more about our spring travels and additions to our new speaker’s bureau in the next quarter.
You may not realize it but, March is National Social Work Month, the month where we recognize and celebrate the work of this nation’s more than 600,000 social workers.
When you think of “social work,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe the answer is in one of these pictures…
In reality, social workers play an integral role in keeping people safe and advocating for causes and services on behalf of others. America’s social workers serve in hospitals, mental health clinics, military facilities, prisons and schools. About 96 percent of these social workers spend their time on direct client services and 73 percent on consultation. Their services and consults can range from providing mental health services to serving children and families, to addressing health issues and aging.
Despite celebrating community heroes like teachers and first responders, social workers often go unrecognized. Is it due to a lack of understanding? Are there misperceptions of what they do? Is it a lack of visibility in mainstream society or Hollywood? Or is there a stigma that prevents people from openly acknowledging their impact – the idea that working with a social worker is synonymous with an inability to care for oneself or children.
Whatever the reason, we owe social workers respect and gratitude for keeping people safe, especially when it relates to children. In learning to value and appreciate their work, let’s take a look at the history of social work as it relates to child welfare.
In the late 1800s, Jane Addams became the first social worker and pioneer of social work in the United States. For her work, she became the second woman to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Many women and men followed, pursuing a career in social work to help alleviate the circumstances of the poor and those mistreated by society.
While Addams paved the way for social workers, Etta Angell Wheeler, a missionary and humanitarian, paved the way for child welfare. She was the first person to shed light on child abuse in the U.S. Wheeler was informed about a young girl, Mary Ellen Wilson, being abused by her caretakers. Neighbors could hear the child screaming and begging for help, but could not do anything to help Mary Ellen.
With the information she had, Wheeler alerted the police. The police couldn’t do anything. They did not have the authority to intervene on suspicions of abuse. They could only act on it if it was an animal. Wheeler sought the help of Henry Bergh, president of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Elbridge T. Gerry, ASPCA’s lawyer. Bergh and Gerry found a loophole in the law, giving the judge the authority to remove Mary Ellen from her abusive environment.
Not only did Wheeler save Mary Ellen from a life of abuse, Wheelers’ family went on to care for Mary Ellen until she married at the age of 24. After the success of Mary Ellen’s case, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) worked to extend their laws to protect children and created the NYSPCC, New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Since 1874, social workers have worked to protect children from abuse and neglect. Etta Angell Wheeler may not be the pioneer of child welfare, but she was a driving force in the creation of laws to protect children. Whether working in the school or community setting, social workers strive to support families and keep children safe.
This March let’s work together to show our appreciation to the Wheelers and the Jane Addams of this world for keeping children safe and sound.