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DRCSS examining need for a school-based social worker

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Dauphin Regional Comprehensive Secondary School (DRCSS) will have its own social worker on staff for the 2018-19 school year.
While Mountain View School Division (MVSD) has a social worker on staff for all MVSD schools, MVSD CEO Donna Davidson explained, DRCSS administration is testing whether a school-based social worker is effective for the Grades 9 to 12 school.
DRCSS had access to the divisional social worker last year, she said, and found the service was beneficial to students and families, so administration wanted to increase that to full-time, based out of the high school.
MVSD provides each school with Tier 1 student support funding, Davidson said, which may be used to hire additional professional staff or additional educational assistants.
“And it’s used to support students in getting to school, coping with any type of crisis or situations that they may have, helping them with their studies,” she added, noting DRCSS channelled some of its Tier 1 funding to support a school social worker.
The province provides divisions with block funding, Davidson said, according to the student population and the historical needs of the school division.
MVSD had enough dollars at the divisional level to support one school social worker, she noted, and with 16 schools in the division, the social worker is spread thinly.
At a population of approximately 650 students, she said, DRCSS has the capacity to channel dollars toward a school social worker.
Many school divisions have hired school social workers, Davidson noted, to collaborate and consult with students, parents, school administrators and the community.
The school social worker would also run parent evenings or groups with students, she said, to help them overcome barriers to attendance, or challenges they may face in school, at home, orin their community.
“So you know, to cope with those social emotional or behaviour difficulties, improve school attendance, help them build self-esteem and help students stay in school and graduate,” Davidson added.
If a child is going through a crisis, she said, whether it is at home or related to a school event, the school would call on the school social worker to support the situation.
The role of a school social worker may be preventative, Davidson said, noting they form a liaison, working with families and schools.
The school social worker becomes part of the student services team, she added, as students are referred to them by staff.
At the end of the school year, Davidson said, DRCSS administration will assess whether having a school social worker in the high school was effective.
“They will want to see if this a good way to spend their Tier 1 dollars, are they seeing an impact on student attendance, are they seeing an impact on student sense of well-being. Are we seeing it supporting retention and graduation,” she said, noting all that information may not be available within one year, but MVSD would want to see progress.
Whether MVSD is able to continue to support the position at DRCSS, Davidson said, depends on funding the division receives in the areas of student services, general programming-based grants and categorical grants.
The province has not determined what formula it will use to provide block funding, she said, adding MVSD is currently receiving the same funding levels it received in 2015-16.

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M. A. Nyquist
REPORTER
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