Side Social Work

Cumberland County School Social Workers: Forging Solutions Out of Challenges


Image of an orange and blue swirl with the words Social Work Forging Solutions Out of ChallengesHelping young people become productive citizens in a global society has been a primary goal of school social work since the profession’s humble beginnings when the first school social workers were referred to as “Visiting Teachers”.

Beginning in 1905, they were employed by neighborhood settlement houses in New York, Boston and Connecticut where they were committed to increasing parental involvement and helping schools learn more about the backgrounds of their students.

School social work began in Cumberland County Schools in response to the same needs that prompted its inception.

The Board of Education initially hired an attendance officer who doubled as the audio-visual coordinator. When he left in 1961, the role was filled by Elizabeth Johnston, a soft spoken yet determined lady who held a Master of Social Work degree. She recognized that in order to keep children in school, other essential human needs would have to be taken care of.

Under her direction, a new period of growth and development began, and the titles changed from liaison teachers to school social workers. Today, Cumberland County Schools employs 70 full and part-time social workers, and one social work coordinator. Each year, we also provide field placements to students from local colleges and universities pursuing a Bachelor’s or Master’s of Social Work. All school social workers hold either a Master’s or Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and we are certified by the Licensure Division of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

The National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and its standards for School Social Work Services serves as the guide to our everyday professional conduct. Our mission is to provide services that strengthen and facilitate the educational process by identifying, modifying, and removing barriers to learning, while promoting wellness and student success.

A typical day in the life of a school social worker between 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. might include:

1. Breakfast or Bus Duty

2. Administrative, SST, IEP, a grade level meetings

3. Meeting with students

4. Meeting with parents

5. Conducting social histories

6. Transportation assistance

7. Reporting suspected child abuse and neglect

8. Making referrals to community agencies for students and parents

9. School attendance investigation and monitoring

10. Identification of homeless students and needs

11. Identification of pregnant students and needs

12. Assisting Exceptional Children and needs

13. Following up on tardies

14. IEP meetings

15. Identification of military students and needs

16. Meeting with at risk students

17. Facilitating small group sessions

18. Truancy Mediation Council referrals and meetings

19. Coordinating school programs

20. Preparing reports

21. Cafeteria and/or hall duty

22. Attending professional development meeting

23. Picking up and distributing back pack buddies

24. Attending court

25. Maintaing daily record of all contacts

Published by Mable Harper on October 1, 2019

Cumberland County Schools
2465 Gillespie Street • Fayetteville, NC 28306

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