School Social Workers and Attendance Counsellors offer identity affirming and culturally responsive supports for students, their families, teachers and the school communities to maximize a students educational and socio-emotional experience.
School Social Workers combine an anti-oppressive and mental health lens to understand the barriers a student may be experiencing in their personal, social or broader environment.
When students experience undue stress in their lives they often have trouble in school, and School Social Workers and Attendance Counsellors work to support students to overcome these obstacles to achieve their full potential while advocating and centering equity, anti-racism and anti-oppression.
School Social Workers and Attendance Counsellors are part of the multidisciplinary Professional Student Services (PSS) team of the Toronto District School Board. Attendance Counsellors are assigned to address attendance issues at the secondary school level. The School Social Worker is responsible for these referrals at the elementary school level.
All TDSB School Social Workers are regulated by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) and subscribe to a set of professional ethics that include respect for the individual’s right to privacy and confidentiality.
Issues We Address
School Social Workers can help students, families and/or schools when the following issues arise:
- Mental health & Wellbeing
- Personal Supports
- Family Supports
How We Can Help
We offer a wide variety of services. The parents/guardians, principal, teachers, and other professionals work as a team to help each student. School Support Teams meet regularly each month to identify and decide on a plan of support to benefit students. When a student is referred to social work services, consent is obtained from the parent(s)/guardian(s) in order to begin our assessment. We then decide on how best to serve our clients.
SOME MORE DETAIL:
Students are seen individually to help them cope with different school, community or family situations. Also they receive assistance to help with self-esteem, social skills, anxiety, mood issues, grief, anger management and conflict resolution strategies, and with developing coping strategies to support overall mental health and well-being.
When requested every effort is made to provide culturally responsive and identity affirming Social Workers to support students and their families. We value the unique needs of all intersecting communities and strive to respond accordingly.
From time to time, students are offered an opportunity to join groups to discuss and learn about a variety of life skills. The social worker leads a group of students who are close in age and who share a common concern. Group themes include Divorce and Separation, Grief and Bereavement, Anger-Management and Conflict Resolution, Social Skills, Self-Esteem, and Affinity Affirming groups. In addition to student groups, parent groups are organized to discuss discipline, behaviour concerns, healthy emotional development and the family system.
Depending on the concern, it is sometimes very helpful for a social worker to meet with the family of the student.
Attendance counsellors or school social workers consult with school personnel and parents/guardians, and examine patterns of irregular attendance. Students are encouraged to continue their education and are given opportunities to return to their regular classes, or to attend modified or alternative programs.
School social workers are invited into the classroom to instruct students on a variety of issues such as peer relations, bullying, street-proofing, dating violence, respect for the rights of others, and to discuss tragic events which impact the students. All issues are addressed using an anti-oppressive/inclusive approach.
School social workers assume a lead role in the TDSB's Crisis Response. Following a crisis or tragic event in a school, immediate culturally-responsive support is offered at the school level in consultation with the school principal and staff.
Consultation on Social-Emotional Issues
School social workers are available for informal consultation on social/emotional issues affecting the lives of children.
Referrals to Outside Agencies
School social workers are available to facilitate referrals to culturally-responsive social agencies and recreational facilities for children in the community.
Consultation Regarding the Child Abuse Policy
School social workers are available to provide in-service sessions and consultation to Administrators and school staff, on the child abuse policy and procedure.