Children Get Lift with Social Workers in Schools (SWiS)
PRESS RELEASE Tuesday March 19, 2013
Children Get Lift with Social Workers in Schools (SWiS)
Opening speaker at next month’s (April 29, 30) NZ SWiS Conference, Australian Dr. Doris Testa Lecturer Academic Leader, Victoria University says school social workers’ greatly enhance the social, emotional, and personal wellbeing of primary school aged children aged between six and eleven.
New data from the first documented research on the contribution of social workers in Melbourne primary school children, demonstrates tangible benefits through the facilitation of social inclusion programs and access to resources otherwise denied to children in economic, social and political disadvantaged circumstances.
As a significant SWiS provider with 52 SWiS in over 70 schools, Family Works Northern’s own research supports these findings. A regional survey of children, their families and teachers conducted in late 2011, confirmed that SWiS positively impacted on improving the wellbeing of the children and their families. Children were more involved with school activities and teachers were more able to teach.
Investing In The Future
Dr. Testa, School of Social Work states, “Now is the time to invest in social workers in schools”.
She cites the NZ government’s choice in growing funding for this service as positive. To further explore Dr. Testa’s findings, find her current link discussing the above data. http://acen.edu.au/2012conference/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/ACEN-2012-National-Conference-Proceedings.pdf#page=290
Dr. Testa has her doctorate in school based social work and its contribution to student wellbeing, with publications in that area. Her history is in both social work and education, having combined both disciplines in her work. Leaving as school principal in 2005, she pursued her doctorate to take up a position in the social work unit of Victoria University, Melbourne.
This is the second year, Family Works Northern (FWN) has hosted a national SWiS conference.
The conference programme at Holiday Inn Airport, Auckland includes three strands of focus targeted at excellence in social work practice, excellence in the role, and excellence in working with children.
Workshops include Family Safety (facilitated by Police Safety team), working with poverty, ethics and boundaries, restorative practice, risk assessments, autism and professionalism as well as peer supervision groups. Six speakers over the two days, include the Hon. Paula Bennett, Dr Pita Sharples and inspirational speaker, William Pike (www.williampike.co.nz).
• Dr Doris Testa (opening speaker & Australian experience)
• Leland Ruwhiu (Maori Practice Modalities)
• Hon Paula Bennett (Guest speaker)
• William Pike (Inspirational speaker)
• Hon Dr Pita Sharples (Closing speaker)
Family Works Northern keep hosting
Family Works Northern recognises the significant difference that SWiS can make to children and their families and is hosting this conference to contribute to the further strengthening of this important service.
General Manager Family Works Northern, Laurie Pedlar says numbers of registrations are up and rolling in faster than last year. “We have been pleasantly surprised with the response for registration especially in the difficult financial climate. It’s great to notice the commitment to professional development from the employing agencies. Continuing to develop staff and aspire for excellence in practice is one of the ways we can support SWIS in their work. Having a national conference that enables peer supervision and networking helps reinforce,” she says.
“Family Works Northern is thrilled to keep hosting this event. We believe the SWiS service is one that works extremely well, not only have we always believed that, but we are now in a position to evidence it through Results Based Accountability (RBA) specifically for SWiS. Preventive Social Work has a continued and important place in New Zealand society and the more we can educate and professionalise those providing the service, the better off our children and families will be.”
in Schools (SWiS) is a school-based social work service,
that places a social worker right in the school grounds and
surrounding community, bringing together a child or young
person’s home and school life.
SWiS provide early assistance and intervention to children and their families when social or family circumstances are causing the child to struggle with education, health or social development. The aim is to see safe, healthy and socialised children with a strong sense of identity, who are fully engaged in school.
Referrals can be made by the children or family themselves, the school, or community or Government agencies. Referrals need the consent of the family, as the service can only be successful with the family’s willing participation and engagement.
SWiS social workers are employed by NGO
social service providers, and work in partnership with
school staff as part of the school community. A social
worker will work in one school, or a group of schools, based
on the geographical spread of schools in their region. SWiS
are based in low-decile schools, primarily Primary and
The service is:
• Free to students and their families
• Completely Voluntary – it's up to the children, young people and their families if they want to talk with a social worker.
FWN Evidences Impact
Family Works Northern conducted the first SWIS regional RBA (results based accountability) survey in November 2011. It shows a strong endorsement of the value of SWiS and the effective work that the social workers are doing. With a high response rate, evaluative feedback was received from 193 children (78% being Maori), 135 parents and 182 teachers. All three groups strongly indicated the SWiS service was highly valued and achieved results. For example:
• Wellbeing of the children improved (89% of parents and 90% of children rated this highly)
• Family’s wellbeing had improved (90% of parents rated this highly)
• Children more engaged with school (79% of children and 82% of parents rated this highly)
• Teachers more able to teach (84% of teachers rated this highly.
In general terms, parents indicated the
SWiS service enabled improved outcomes for their children,
including, increased confidence, greater enjoyment of school
and connections to further support for them. Teachers
explained that outcomes for children included improved
attendance, attitude, behaviour and engagement with
learning. Teachers also expressed that the service enabled
improved outcomes for the school by improving connections
between the school and family and by allowing teachers to
concentrate on their core job of educating children.
Further to this:
• 95% of parents were highly satisfied with the service and reported that SWiS demonstrated out values (are respectful and trusted)
• 92%of teachers were highly satisfied with the service
• 97% of teachers reported that SWiS demonstrated our values
• 83% of teachers thought the service met the needs of the school
• 89% of teachers thought the SWiS strongly engaged with the community.