School Social Workers

School social workers provide support to students experiencing mental health concerns that affect their ability to participate and succeed in school.

On this page, you can find information on:

  • What school social workers do

  • Who we are and how we are trained

  • How to access school social workers

  • What it looks like to work with a school social worker

  • Consent for services

We are here to help
If you have concerns about a student’s mental health, contact your child’s teacher or administrator. They can help you to explore what services may be available through the school board or the community, including school social work.
Six students with backpacks sitting on wall

What we do

School social workers are registered mental health professionals.

We support students in Kindergarten to Grade 12. We work in partnership with students, families, school teams and community partners.

We deliver a range of services on a short-term basis, including:

  • individual or group counselling

  • advocacy, referral and resource navigation

  • crisis response supports

  • attendance intervention

  • professional learning for school staff

Educator with students in classroom - secondary

Wherever possible, we work to connect students and their families to community-based resources, including our community partners, for intervention and support.

We can help with many different topics, including oppression, mental health concerns, relationships, bullying, grief and loss, substance use, barriers attending school, and more. 

We approach interventions and care in a way that:

  • centres on our clients

  • focuses on strengths

  • is based on evidence

  • affirms student identities

  • uses an anti-oppressive framework

Learn more about our services:

We work closely with school teams to provide a range of services to students and schools across, including:

  • consultation

  • assessment

  • referral and resource navigation

  • advocacy

  • Individual or group counselling

We also have itinerant school social workers who provide a range of services with a specialty area of focus. They may work with the school social worker to support delivering care to a student. They can also support staff planning care for students in their area of support. These roles include:

  • School Social Worker, International Education Services (IES) Students 

  • School Social Worker, Caring and Safe Schools Programs 

  • Community Care Team School Social Worker, Indigenous Students (currently vacant)

  • Community Care Team School Social Worker, African Heritage and Caribbean Diaspora 

  • Community Care Team School Social Worker, 2SLGBTQI+Identifying Students 

  • Community Care Team School Social Worker, Tamil Diaspora Students 

  • Community Care Team School Social Worker, Chinese Heritage

We work as attendance counsellors when students are struggling with school attendance.

School Social Workers support schools with time sensitive crisis response matters. This is offered in partnership with staff members from Psychological Services during the regular school day. 

These situations may include: 

students supported in 2021-22
workshops provided on affirming student identity
students offered attendance support in 2021-22

How to access a school social worker

If you have concerns about your child's mental health, contact your child’s teacher or administrator. They can help you to explore what services may be available through the school board or the community. This could include school social work. 

An in-school team meeting will take place to determine the appropriate supports. 

When possible, school social workers will work to connect students and their families with community partners and resources for intervention and support. 

Secondary student with adult

Working with a school social worker

Social Workers centre the student's voice in creating goals for the service. It is a collaboration between the student and the social worker. Our education and ongoing training focus on anti-oppressive practice and understanding how systems of power and oppression affect students’ experiences.

We gather information about what makes up the student, including:

  • strengths, skills, attributes and interests

  • identities

  • relationships and communities, including family and caregivers, faith communities, teams, elders, coaches, peer groups 

We want students to feel heard, valued and affirmed for all of the intersectional parts that make up their identity, experience and values. 

Counselling sessions:

  • Can vary in length and format - group and individual.

  • Can take place in a private space at school. They can happen on a walk, or at home depending on what a student needs.

  • Can include talking, artistic expression and collaborative problem solving to work on any topics that are important to the student. 

Consent for services

Social Work Services seek consent from students and families to the age of 18 (with the exception of students who are 16 and 17 years old who have withdrawn from parental control).

A student can only receive services if they provide their permission. 

Some attendance services may not require consent because these interventions fall outside of social work services and may be mandated by the Education Act.

*In circumstances where the student does not feel emotionally or physically safe or comfortable to seek their parent(s)/guardian(s) consent to participate in services, but can demonstrate an understanding of the risks and benefits of seeking Social Work Services, the School Social Worker can seek a bypass of parental consent from their supervisor (Chief Social Worker/Assistant Coordinator of Social Work and Attendance Services). 

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