In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section School Social Work

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • History of School Social Work
  • Educational Policies Guiding Practice
  • School Social Work Practice
  • Trauma-informed Schools
  • Violence

Social Work School Social Work
Paula Allen-Meares, Cynthia Franklin, Laura Hopson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 February 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 February 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0110


School social work is a subspecialty within the social work profession. The field has been in existence in the United States for over one hundred years and is practiced in many other countries. Although the actual number of school social workers worldwide is unknown, the field serves children in most states in the United States. According to the School Social Work Association of America, “School social workers bring unique knowledge and skills to the school system and the student services team. School Social Workers are instrumental in furthering the purpose of the schools: To provide a setting for teaching, learning, and for the attainment of competence and confidence. School social workers are hired by school districts and charter schools to enhance their ability to meet its academic mission, especially where home, school, and community collaboration is the key to achieving that mission.” This entry covers introductory works on the history of school social work, important policies, and select journals that support this field of practice. Articles on interventions and empirical studies that support the work of school social workers are further highlighted in this entry.

Introductory Works

The resources in this section provide an introduction to the school social work field. They were selected because they present an introduction to the roles and responsibilities of school social workers with discussion of interventions and the use of case examples to illustrate concepts. Allen-Meares 2015 provides information on effective interventions, current research, current information on macro and political forces that shape education, educational policy, and the need for systems change in schools. Massat, et al. 2016 describes practice skills relevant for school social workers and updated information on political forces that shape the profession. Kelly 2008 also focuses on new trends, particularly on the need for evidence-based practice in school social work. Franklin, et al. 2012 also provide extensive analysis of evidence-based research and outcome measures.

  • Allen-Meares, Paula, ed. 2015. Social work services in schools. 7th ed. New York: Pearson, Allyn, and Bacon.

    Discusses major issues confronting education and pupil population groups. Also provides direction for implementing and evaluating school social work services. Case examples are provided to illustrate concepts. The book also provides information about knowledge required by social work professional organizations. Each chapter ends with additional readings and questions for discussion or exercises.

  • Franklin, Cynthia, Mary Beth Harris, and Paula Allen-Meares, eds. 2012. The school services source book: A guide for school-based professionals. 2d ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Covers every aspect of school service delivery, providing practitioners with the nuts and bolts of evidence-based practice. Each of the chapters includes a summary of the problem area, step-by-step instructions on how to implement an evidence-based program, and methods to measure the outcomes.

  • Frey, A. J., M. E. Alvarez, and C. A. Sabatino, et al. 2012. The development of a national school social work practice model. Children and Schools 34.3: 131–134.

    DOI: 10.1093/cs/cds025

    Provides a rationale for the creation of a national school social work model, followed by an initial conceptualization of a model and recent and future steps to refine the model using an iterative process.

  • Frey, A. J., and D. R. Dupper. 2005. A broader conceptual approach to clinical practice for the 21st century. Children and Schools 27:33–44.

    DOI: 10.1093/cs/27.1.33

    Provides a framework for conceptualizing school social work practice that illustrates the ecological aspects of the clinical knowledge and skills needed for effective social work practice in schools. The article also differentiates the role of school social workers from that of other school-based professionals.

  • Kelly, Michael S. 2008. The domains and demands of school social work practice: A guide to working effectively with students, families, and schools. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195343304.001.0001

    Describes new developments and trends in the school social work profession. Topics include evidence-based practice, demonstrating the effectiveness of school social work practice, common clinical issues addressed by school social workers, and proposed future directions for school social work practice and research.

  • Massat, C. R., M. Kelly, and R. T. Constable. 2016. School social work: Practice, policy, & research. Oxford: Lyceum.

    Reflects the many ways that school social work practice impacts academic, behavioral, and social outcomes for both youths and the broader school community. The eighth edition strengthens the book’s focus on evidence informed practice and places all content within the context of the prevailing multitiered model of school interventions.

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