More than 20 additional social workers could be assigned to District schools this fall under proposals being discussed by District officials, Community Behavioral Health, the Department of Human Services, and Mayor Kenney's administration.
The discussions have been strongly encouraged by several City Council members and by the newest School Reform Commission member, Estelle Richman.
Under the program, the social workers would become part of school staff, helping educators recognize the effects that experiences such as trauma and hunger have on students and promoting a positive behavioral approach to discipline and classroom management.
According to some of those involved, the social workers would be assigned to three high schools and 19 K-8 schools.
Officials from Community Behavioral Health and the District declined to comment on the discussions, and the District refused to provide any details about the current complement of CBH workers.
But in testimony in May before City Council, Karyn Lynch, the District's chief of student support services, said that “in the last five years at least, CBH has not added to the complement of services that exist within our schools, with the exception of a short pilot [that] existed for two years.”
Richman, who has served as the state secretary of welfare and as a top official in the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, said she saw the addition of full-time social workers in the schools as a key to mainstreaming more students out of private placements and into District schools.
The District is taking several steps to provide students who have behavioral challenges an education in regular school settings. In a separate move, the SRC just approved a $10 million contract with Catapult Learning to set up a program within the District that will serve students with emotional needs who were previously sent to private placements, including the now-closed Wordsworth Academy.
To read the full article by Paul Jablow, click here.