Supporting the Implementation of Check & Connect: The Role of the School Social Worker

Logo of the School Social Work Association of AmericaI recently had the good fortune to present an overview of Check & Connect at the 20th National School Social Work Conference in San Diego, CA. My presentation focused on the role of the school social worker in supporting the implementation of Check & Connect. Here are some highlights of the presentation.

School social workers—

  • Have important knowledge of students, families, and communities. This knowledge can include the family influences and circumstances that might be supporting and/or challenging students’ attendance and engagement at school.
  • Play an integral part on the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) team, which monitors the progress of at-risk students.
  • Possess an immense bank of resources including community contacts who can be utilized to support students and their families. Mentors and social workers can work together when a student shows social, emotional, and/or physical needs.
  • Support mentors who may not be accustomed to interacting with families during home visits. This support can encourage mentors to partner with families, recognize the families’ strengths, and engage families with cultural sensitivity.
  • Help mentors see and embrace the “whole” child. School social workers can encourage mentors to consider the students’ needs and perspectives.
  • Support mentors by reviewing monitoring forms. Support can range from encouraging mentors to complete forms with fidelity to assisting mentors with personalizing intensive interventions.
  • Who are in the role of Check & Connect coordinator may supervise and meet with mentors on a regular basis to monitor performance and offer feedback. They may identify successful practices and areas of growth for individuals and/or groups of mentors.
  • Model and support “active listening” to show they are listening and understanding what is being said.
  • Assist with determining the selection criteria for students’ participation in Check & Connect.
  • Function as the initial contact person to receive student referrals to Check & Connect.
  • Assist in assigning students to mentors.

Photo of African American social worker with two children and their mother on a couch.Sadly, not every school has a social worker. Compounding matters, school social workers often have enormous and increasingly challenging caseloads. That being said, those schools fortunate enough to have a social worker on staff would be encouraged to utilize their expertise, as they can and should play an important role in the successful implementation of Check & Connect.

What do you think?

  • In what ways have school social workers played a role in the implementation of Check & Connect in your setting? What are some ways not mentioned in this blog that you have utilized school social workers?
  • What have been some challenges in utilizing school social workers? How have you overcome these challenges?

About the Author: Joseph Angaran is a national Check & Connect trainer at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota. 

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The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

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