School 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.”

5. Social Workers' Ethical Responsibilities to the Social Work Profession

5.01 Integrity of the Profession

(c) Social workers should contribute time and professional expertise to activities that promote respect for the value, integrity, and competence of the social work profession. These activities may include teaching, research, consultation, service, legislative testimony, presentations in the community, and participation in their professional organizations.

(d) Social workers should contribute to the knowledge base of social work and share with colleagues their knowledge related to practice, research, and ethics. Social workers should seek to contribute to the profession's literature and to share their knowledge at professional meetings and conferences.

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 a 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

Become a member of ISSWA and SSWAA

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

Take a few moments to personalize action alerts from ISSWA/SSWAA

Tier 2

Develop a PLC (Professional Learning Committee)

Provide professional development to staff on early warning signs of mental illness, suicide prevention, trauma, etc.

Become a member of building leadership committees

Make connections with your community

Become a member of the ISSWA Board or join the ISSWA Legislative and Advocacy Committee

Stay connected by following legislator's websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Be informed about state legislative issues. Contact legislators and attend town hall meetings

When the legislative session is out, schedule a time to meet with your representative

Be knowledgeable about what is going on at the Department of Education - develop a connection with the department

Attend ISSWA’s Day at the Hill Day event

Participate in the Midwest School Social Work Council meetings

Tier 3

Use data and provide personal narratives to illustrate the impact of School Social Work Services

Invite legislators to your school - allows them to see programs in action and talk about the number of kids being served.

Write a letter to the editor about A Day in the Life of a School Social Worker.

Testify at your school board about the Role, Value, and Impact of School Social Work Interventions.

Volunteer to testify at a legislative committee hearing

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

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