Like many health care professionals, educators, and community members, we have been stirred to action by the Black Lives Matter movement and have written about our commitment to working to address the interlocking public health crises of racism, gun violence, and COVID-19. To that end, we are holding storytelling/organizing events through our Reframe events, where we use the power of first-person stories to foster connection, hope, and action. Our next event is online of course, but features a focus on Chicago educators, physicians, and community activists who are trying to make a difference and respond to these 3 interlocking crises.
This Congressional Briefing is also one of the first (only?) national advocacy events that has brought together all of the major national SSW organizations in solidarity to press the case for how school social work can respond to this critical time for our schools and our nation. Please register for this event here and help us get the word out to your networks and share the pdf of the briefing details and bios of panelists below. Finally, a big thank you to all of you who participated in our survey project this past Spring–your first-hand experience of trying to figure out how to do school social work during the first phase of this pandemic was a key driver of how this event has come together next week.
While our exclusive SSWN data tool itself is meant to be used for informational purposes, it’s hard to look at the figures of rising deaths in Florida, and increased School Risk Scores we show here and not wonder how safe it will be to re-open schools in many parts of Florida over the next month.
School social workers (SSWs) have long been in these schools battling for racial, social, and economic justice — and making sure that families, teachers, and students have the resources and services they need. Our national study of 1,275 SSWs presents their voices and suggestions in connection with COVID-19, the reopening of schools, online services, and how reinvestment in low-income communities and schools should transpire. Thanks to all of you who shared your perspectives with us by taking this survey. Here’s what you told us and what we think should be done to re-open schools safely and rebuild our American community.
From a report by #CopsOutCPS: “As more and more school districts around the country are joining the movement to end the school-to-prison pipeline and remove police from inside of schools, we want to share more information about the realities of school-based policing in Chicago. This report examines the disparities in who is impacted by school-based policing, the misconduct records of the CPD officers assigned to CPS, and the ways funds currently allocated towards policing could be re-invested.”
As school social workers, we must all step into the discomfort of this conversation as this impacts every one of us when we serve children and teenagers in the schools. If we serve Black youth and other youth of color, we must be willing to assess where we are in our own journey of anti-racism. If we work with white youth, we are equally responsible for breaking the legacy of white supremacy and model for white youth what anti-racism looks like. We need to assess our own spheres of influence and our skill sets, thinking about how we can use our strengths, develop new skills, and be willing to be courageous and take risks in order to enact anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices.
To assist in our advocacy efforts, SSWAA created a new position paper titled “The Impact of School Social Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic” and updated the “School Social Workers’ Role in Addressing Mental health Needs and Increasing Academic Achievement” to be used as resources for school social workers as they articulate their value and remind others of the essential and often lifesaving services we deliver. We hope that you will be able to utilize these resources this summer when talking with your administrators, school board members, legislators and other stakeholders.