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Home » Educator Support » Education Staff Associate (ESA) » School Social Work

School Social Work

Student support needs are best identified and delivered within Multi-Tiered Systems of Support. A School Social Worker is a professional in the fields of social work and education who is trained to provide direct and indirect services in schools as part of the continuum of interventions within the MTSS framework  This includes mental health and academic counseling, implementation of social emotional learning, crisis prevention and intervention, promoting a positive and responsive school climate, and collaboration with other professionals, organizations, and community agencies.  

The field of social work is strongly based in a social justice perspective of understanding and removing barriers caused by oppressive and negative societal factors, and school social workers provide professional expertise through mental health services, professional case management, advocacy, mobilizing resources to support students and families within the school district and the community, and other support services that impact student academic and social-emotional success. Learn more about the role of the school social worker.

The National School Social Work Practice Model (2013)  provides information and resources for school social workers to develop, deliver, and evaluate the services they provide in Washington schools as well as guidance for the continual improvement of this work. As outlined in the practice model, school social workers:

  • Provide evidence-based education, behavior, and mental health services.
  • Promote a school climate and culture conducive to student learning and teaching excellence.
  • Maximize access to school-based and community-based resources.

WA School Support Professions Legislation

RCW 28A.410.044. School psychologists and social workers – Domains and roles.

Describes the purpose and role of school social workers, to provide an integral link between school, home, and community in helping students achieve academic and social success.

RCW 28A.320.280. School counselors, social workers, and psychologists – Priorities.

Differentiates the roles of 3 ESA's: school counselors, school psychologists and school social workers. Also acknowledges these professionals are involved in multi-tiered systems of support for academic and behavioral skills.

RCW 28A.320.290. School counselors, social workers, and psychologists – Professional collaboration.

Directs 6 hours minimum of collaboration among the three support professions of school counselors, social workers, and psychologists.

ESAs Working Together