On World Social Work Day, school and community leaders can recognize the essential role that social workers play in promoting student well-being

By MICHELLE WILLIAMS, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Special Education Services, Inc. | As a social worker for an in-district classroom inside of a Texas elementary school, I have the honor of serving some of the most vulnerable students in our community. On March 21, World Social Work Day, it’s important to highlight the essential role social workers play in promoting the well-being of our students and their families.

Every day, I have the privilege of witnessing the incredible resilience of our students, who face challenges that many adults would struggle to overcome. Food insecurity, trauma, and family instability are just some of the obstacles facing our students, and these challenges can have a profound impact on their academic performance, emotional health and future opportunities.

This is where social workers come in. Social workers are a unique component in the education system because we are trained to focus on both the student and their environment. I work alongside special education teachers and other staff to provide the support that our students need to thrive.

Social workers explore external factors that impact a child’s emotional and academic learning and identify strategies to improve their situation. It is our job to help kiddos be successful and feel secure.

I truly believe that social workers enhance the academic mission of a school or classroom by promoting success through active collaboration between a student’s home, school and community.

As a member of the education team, social workers use their skills and connections to community resources to empower families to effectively advocate for their child across multiple settings. Social workers in schools do a lot of work behind the scenes to help ensure students are taken care of completely. We provide counseling and emotional support to students who are struggling with anxiety, depression, or trauma. And we collaborate with teachers to develop strategies for addressing behavioral issues in the classroom.

Despite the important role that social workers play in schools, our profession is often misunderstood and underutilized. But despite these challenges, I remain inspired by the resilience and strength of the students in my classroom. I am grateful for the opportunity to support them on their journey and help them learn how to advocate for themselves.

On this World Social Work Day, I urge community leaders to recognize the essential role that social workers play in promoting the well-being of our students and our communities. By investing in social work services and supporting policies that promote equity and inclusion, we can help to build a brighter future for all students.