Social work advocacy

School Social Work Advocacy

Embedded in our professional code of ethics is a commitment to the value of Social Justice. As social workers, challenging social injustice is fundamental to our practice as outlined in the NASW Code of Ethics:

“Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social workers’ social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice. These activities seek to promote sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social workers strive to ensure access to needed information, services, and resources; equality of opportunity; and meaningful participation in decision making for all people.”

Macro level advocacy is a critical component not only to promote the profession but to be a voice for students and families. Our unique understanding of systems such as family, education, and mental health provides us with the knowledge to educate others about how these systems intersect and impact each other positively and negatively.

Unfortunately there is lack of understanding regarding who is considered a mental health professional/practitioner, their scope of practice, and whether schools should and can provide mental health services.


Tier 1

Be physically visible

Introduce yourself and use School Social Work terminology and signage everywhere

Print business cards

Celebrate National School Social Work Week

Use social media to communicate about School Social Work

Create School Social Work bulletin boards

Know how you are funded


Attend state, regional, and national School Social Work conferences

Display ISSWA/SSWAA magnets, stickers, clothing, mug, water bottle etc

Nominatinate co-workers for School Social Worker of the Year and the Leahgreta Spears Lifetime Achievement Award


Tier 2

Develop a PLC (Professional Learning Committee)

Participate in the Midwest School Social Work Council meetings

Become a member of building leadership committees

Make connections with your community

Be active in ISSWA

Be informed about state legislative issues. Contact legislators and attend forums

Attend ISSWA’s Day on the Hill Day event


Tier 3

Consistently demonstrate how students are different because of the School Social Work Services

Know what is going on at the Department of Education - develop a connection or liaison with the department

Communicate with state legislators - invite them to your school and meetings

Be knowledgeable of national issues and communicate at the federal level

    Adapted from the Iowa School Counselor Association
ISSWA is a 501©3 non-profit organization. 

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