School Social Worker Program is a Youth First early intervention strategy. Youth First provides funding for social workers in schools that identify a need. These social workers provide crisis intervention, supportive counseling, family interventions, and assist with identification of young people at risk or who already use alcohol and other drugs. They will also provide educational programs for families and support for youth returning to schools after treatment.
As students of all ages in our region wrestle with school behaviors and concerns, depression, anxiety, relational issues, and substance abuse, Youth First Social Workers have been just down the hallway ready to help. The services are confidential and available at no cost to participants. Youth First Social Workers provide much needed assessment, prevention and early intervention services to youth in the more than 50 schools that have been partners since 2002. All Youth First social workers hold Master's in Social Work degrees or Licensed Clinical Social Worker designation in the State of Indiana.
The program philosophy is to use evidence based approaches that are at all three tiers of the prevention outlined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse Prevention. We do this by providing universal activities (in classroom presentations), selected activities (small-groups) and indicated work (individual students/families). Through presence in partnering schools, Youth First Social Workers make community referrals and help to reduce the stigma of accessing mental health and substance abuse services. Our aim is to strengthen family relationships and maximize student success in school and in life.
The key components of the School Social Work program are:
Evaluation is a key part of the work at Youth First. For several years the social workers have collected data that describes how youth and families are impacted by the important service that the social workers provide. Diehl Evaluation and Consulting has provided Youth First with consultation and direction to improve the service delivery as part of continuous quality improvement. During the 2009-2010 academic year there were a total of 9,579 unduplicated students served through the social workers. More than 2,000 parents were served as well, bringing the total of youth and parents served unduplicated to 11,621.
The most common reasons Youth First services were sought out were for school behaviors, mood issues, relational struggles (either family or peers) and life adjustment issues (grief, divorce, moving, etc.) Among high school students the primary reasons for needing help include depression, anxiety parent conflict and substance abuse.
As assessments were made, there were more than 300 community referrals made for assistance and more than 7,500 faculty and staff consultations provided by social workers over the course of the school year.
Evaluations indicated the following:
Teachers, parents and students receiving services reported a significant reduction in the intensity of concerns identified for the students at the time of referral. Declining concerns were demonstrated by individual cases over a 5 month time period measuring at baseline, 1 month, 3 month and 5 month intervals.
Parents of students receiving services reported a significant decline in the intensity of concerns identified for their families (e.g. conflict between siblings, parental arguments and tension)
Teachers reported significant improvements in school adjustment among students receiving youth First Social Work services. School adjustment involves school attendance, homework completion, class participation and peer relations.
Parents reported significant decreases in problematic behaviors among the children receiving Youth First Social Work services.
These outcomes indicate the work being completed by the School Social Work program is valuable and promotes change among students and their families.
Youth First works in partnership with school collaborators to recruit and hire staff that are a good fit within each respective school placement. Youth First also provides the following support for School Social Work programs:
Thank you so much to our generous Life Savers supporters: