Public School 48, where I’m on staff as a social worker, sits on a block between a juvenile detention center and a strip club. The school serves around 900 mostly Hispanic and African American children in prekindergarten through fifth grade, with a large percentage of those kids living in shelter apartments. Of course, PS 48 has an educational mission, not a clinical one, but I’m part of a service staff that includes speech, occupational, and physical therapists. I’ve been a school social worker in New York City for 15 years and was a teacher for five years before that. Initially, I went to social work school to better help the kids I taught. But eventually, I became a social worker because I wanted to directly address the problems—truancy, childhood depression, and the overwhelming responsibilities of being an older child raising siblings—that were keeping them from functioning well in school. My current job is to counsel children with Special Education Services, as well as to handle the daily emotional crises that arise in a place like PS 48. A week of work can be exciting, frustrating, and often hair-raising—anything but boring.
[For more on this story by Howard Honigsfeld, go to https://psychotherapynetworker...school-social-worker]
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