Students are suffering because of the lack of social workers in public schools

As we are seeing increased trauma in students because of Covid-19, the lack of social workers in public schools is being highlighted.

Around the globe, students and teachers are struggling in this new normal. Mental health issues are continuing to increase, the roles of workers are being devalued, education is fragmented and more. 

New York City, New York, and Denver, Colorado seem to be accentuated the most. 

In Denver, eight schools meet the professional standards of social work ratios; only 1.5% of the student population attend those schools. While in New York City, 448 schools lack any type of social worker at all. 

Social workers are professional mental health workers who help serve in different aspects. These include mental health and behavioral concerns, behavioral and academic support, conferences with parents and staff, and delivering therapy to individuals or groups. Other aspects talked about like sexuality issues and substance abuse as students age. 

“In Denver Public Schools, the role of the school social worker and the school psychologist are very interchangeable,” said Meredith Fatseas, manager of the department of social work and psychological services in a Denver school, to The Denver Post

“Breaking that apart is not necessarily accurate to reflect services that kids actually have access to,” added Fatseas. 

With the current pandemic, services continue to be cut while students are struggling to stay afloat. Different types of jobs  are given to social workers by administrators leaving no one-on-one time with the kids. Not only does the shortage of teachers impact this, but the overall shortage of social workers leaves students to struggle.

“Despite my passion for social work, my role continues to be diminished and my time is largely spent on tasks below my skill set. Our students are hurting, and while listening to their stories may not add to the data, it just may save another life. And that is the only number that matters,” stated Vanessa Vélez, a social worker, in her article “Nobody knows what a social worker does. That is hurting our students.”

Problems are created because this ratio is misinterpreted and many aren’t doing anything to help.

Although, the former mayor of New York City, Bill De Blasio, has decided to take matters into his own hands. 

Blasio had presented the idea of hiring 500 social workers this year as students are trying to recover from the pandemic and are back in the classrooms. This is definitely a start, yet 75 schools are left without a full-time social worker. 

As people start to see the changes Blasio has made, hopefully, others will do the same. With the matter of the pandemic causing struggles in kids, we need to realize the students matter more than the money.