Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
School Social Workers are a vital link in the total educational team of a school. By serving various roles in the school, they develop partnerships between home, school and community to assure student academic success. Here are some of the roles in which School Social Workers serve: Therapist, Group Facilitators, Conflict Mediators, Grant Writers, Parent/Student/Staff Educators, Family/Child Advocates and Community Organizers.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, approximately 5.5 million children with disabilities receive special education and related services. These students are assured of an appropriate and equal education by IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). School Social Workers are intricately involved in providing services to those students eligible for services provided through special education. School Social Workers assist students in the transition from a general education environment to the supportive setting established by a special education setting. School Social Workers also provide mental health services to students and their families and assist in locating and securing needed resources to aid students in their efforts to obtain and maintain academic progress in the general education curriculum.
School Social Workers assess and evaluate students for suspected emotional impairment and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) to determine eligibility for special educations services in these categories. They also service students who do not have disabilities in either of these areas but are eligible for Special education services through another special education disability category, e.g., Learning Disabled, Mildly/Moderately Cognitively Impaired, Hearing Impaired and a many others. Any special education student who has school social work service included in the IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) receives those services.
Students with disabilities that are not eligible under IDEA may be eligible under Section 504.