School Social Work

ESAs Working Together

The ESA Behavioral Health Coalition is a grassroots advocacy group creates resources about how they provide direct and indirect mental and behavioral services to students, as school-based mental health professionals.

Learn more about the ESA Behavioral Health Coalition!

Contact Information

Nikki York
SSW Program Supervisor

School Social Workers (SSW) are rooted in an understanding of the importance of non-academic factors to a student's success in learning and growth in school. SSWs are educated and trained professionals who are prepared to address systemic inequities, address barriers to learning, and apply culturally responsive practices in schools. This includes mental health and academic counseling, implementation of social emotional learning, crisis prevention and intervention, promoting a positive and responsive school climate, and collaboration with other professionals, organizations, and community agencies.

Learn more about the role of the school social worker.

SSW Qualifications

The following are the qualifications needed to obtain a School Social Workers Educational Staff Associate’s (ESA) Certificate

  1. Master's in Social Work
  2. Completion of an ESA course approved by the Professional Educational Standards Board (PESB) OR completion of any state's approved program leading to certification for the School Social Worker role OR Three years of out-of-state experience in the school social worker role

National SSW Model

The National School Social Work Practice Model provides information and resources for school social workers to develop, deliver, and evaluate the services they provide in Washington schools. As outlined in the practice model, school social workers:

  • Provide evidence-based education, behavior, and mental health services.
  • Promote a school climate and culture conducive to student learning and teaching excellence.
  • Maximize access to school-based and community-based resources.

How do SSW support students?
  • Increase academic success with strategic supports
  • Develop positive social skills
  • Teach problem solving, conflict resolution, and decision-making skills
  • Provide ongoing emotional and behavioral support
How do SSW support schools?
  • Identify and eliminate educational barriers
  • Educate how factors of family, culture, socio-economic status, physical and mental health affect student learning
  • Coordinate resources
  • Provide professional development on social, emotional, behavioral strategies and interventions
How do SSW support families?
  • Provide resources for parenting support and education
  • Refer to community agencies
  • Consult with parents regarding childhood and educational concerns
  • Facilitate school/home/community communication
  • Build family advocacy for systems change
How do SSW support systems?

Provide analysis, development, implementation, and evaluation of various school-based programs like:

  • Multi-tiered System of Supports
  • Early Learning/At-Risk Programs
  • Restorative Practices