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Social Workers in Schools

August 31, 2014
Plain English Version

social_workerAbout 18 million American children live below the poverty level. The last census reported about 8.0 million of those children live in areas with high poverty rates.There is a strong link between school absenteeism and poor, at-risk students. A new report says that children who live in poverty are often absent from school.

Studies show that these absent students have:

  • lower grade point averages,
  • lower test scores,
  • lower graduation rates.

Programs matter. One group links poor students and their families with community resources. It reports that 75% of students in the program showed improved attendance. The average cost per student is $189 a year. The cost is shared between government agencies and community partners.

Michigan will expand a program that places social service workers inside struggling public schools.

Researchers conducted a nationwide study of ways to provide social services in schools.  Only 1.5 million school children now get such services. It states that the number should be much higher.

The goal is to identify at-risk students. The task is to match them with services in the community. Community resources include mentorship groups, housing specialists and mental health experts.

An expert said, “The key is to put dedicated social-service specialists in every low-performance, high-poverty school. This specialist must be trained in the delivery of community services.”

He concluded, “Putting social workers in schools is a low-cost way of avoiding bigger problems down the road.”

Source: New York Times August 26, 2014

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