The Role of School Social Workers Working With Children in Foster Care And The Factors That Impact That Role
Bliss, Heather Wright
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This study examined the role of the school social workers who provide services to students who are in the foster care system. In addition, the study examines the relationship between the school social workers' knowledge of, attitudes towards the foster care experience and the way in which this informs their practice when working with students who are living through the event of foster care.;Data was collected through the use of a self-administered survey instrument, which was disseminated to the New York City Department of Education School Social Workers who work with students in foster care from grades kindergarten through eighth. Of the five hundred and fifty (550) surveys, which were sent out 108, were completed and returned and used for the findings of this study.;The findings of this study, contrary to what was expected indicated that less experienced school social workers were found to have a sense of higher perceived role responsibility than the more experienced school social workers. In addition, the school social workers who required more information about the children in foster care with whom they worked also perceived the school social worker's role to encompass a large set of tasks and activities. The school social workers who identified students as displaying behaviour that is more difficult were more likely to expect social workers to assume a wide range of role responsibilities. The results also showed that the higher the percentage of children in foster care on a school social worker's caseload, the greater the number of intervention services were provided by the school social workers. The findings showed that school social workers who reported that their schools had mechanisms for identifying students in foster care showed a greater comprehensive delivery of services to these students. Additional findings which were unexpected indicated that the number of courses taken in child abuse and neglect, child development and attachment theory were unrelated to services provided by the school social worker. Training received from NYC DOE and training in child developmental theory indicates no relationship with perceived role responsibilities.;This study would be useful in the hiring practices of this school system, public policy, and developing appropriate liaisons between the school and community agencies working with this particular population, that might enhance the learning experience of students in foster care.