Social workers ready for jobs in local schools

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2000

Ten social workers will fan out across Lawrence County’s school districts this month.

Saturday, March 04, 2000

Ten social workers will fan out across Lawrence County’s school districts this month. The Lawrence County Educational Service Center hired them – one for each school district plus the county board office, the vocational school and the juvenile court system, county superintendent Harold Shafer said.

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The hiring is the culmination of a joint plan with the Lawrence County Department of Human Services to provide schools with more resources to combat personal problems that might stand in the way of students’ learning.

The department secured $2 million in state funding earlier this year to fund an in-school social worker and intervention program.

The idea is to deal with children in their environment, human services director Buddy Martin said.

Intervention with students by an accredited social worker will give districts an added resource, he said.

The funding, which is not a grant, leaves a lot of latitude for schools to meet the needs specific to each school environment, Martin said.

It’s a positive move for each school district, Shafer said.

"The social workers will be doing things that schools don’t have the time to do, like working with families and finding ways to get the kids back into the school system," he said.

They also will assist school staff in dealing with truancy and unruly juveniles, Shafer said.

Martin agreed, adding that schools will have the resources necessary to work with families in the school while the grant has provided the department with the financial means to help.

"It gives them an opportunity to address situations not normally addressed in the education field," he said.

The social workers will undergo in-service training for a period of time before starting in their respective districts, Shafer said.

"Social workers and schools have not always worked together, so they need to know how schools operate," he said. "And schools need to know how social workers operate."

The social worker program is funded through June 30, 2001. It’s unknown whether or not funding can continue under that specific grant, Martin said.

"If it’s successful, one way or another between me and the superintendents we’ll have to find a way to fund it," he said.

The benefits are too great to let the idea slip away with the grant, he added.