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Social Workers in Schools (SWiS)
This page includes information about the Social Workers in Schools (SWiS) service, including an overview of the service, what the SWiS workers role involves, the recently announced expansion of services and resources for SWiS providers and workers.
On this page:
What is SWiS?
Social Workers in Schools (SWiS) is a school-based community social work service, that places a social worker right in the school grounds, bringing together a child or young person’s home and school life.
SWiS provides early assistance and intervention to children and their families when social or family circumstances are causing the child to struggle with education, health or social development. The aim is to see safe, healthy and socialised children with a strong sense of identity, who are fully engaged in school
Referrals can be made by the children or family themselves, the school, or community or Government agencies. Referrals need the consent of the family, as the service can only be successful with the family’s willing participation and engagement.
SWiS social workers are employed by NGO social service providers, and work in partnership with school staff as part of the school community. A social worker will work in one school, or a group of schools, based on the geographical spread of schools in their region
SWiS social workers are based in low-decile schools, primarily Primary and intermediate, however there are a number of low decile secondary schools that have a similar social worker programme, called MASSISS.
The service is:
- free to students and their families
- completely voluntary – it's up to the children, young people and their families if they want to talk with a social worker.
Who it's for
The SWiS service is aimed at:
- children who have poor attendance or engagement in school
- children with social or behavioural problems
- children experiencing grief or loss
- families who may be struggling financially, or with issues such as overcrowding, gambling etc.
- at-risk families, including those who have been referred by Child, Youth and Family for community based support.
While the social worker’s primary focus is the child in the SWiS school, the social worker takes a whole of family approach, which may include working with siblings attending other schools.
About the SWiS social worker role
SWiS social workers address concerns that are affecting the child’s safety or wellbeing, their ability to learn, or their family’s ability to manage aspects of their lives. The social worker teams up with the student (and their family), and works with them on things like:
- helping the child develop good relationship skills
- helping the child feel good about themselves
- working with the family to develop parenting skills
- getting families help with issues like money advice or gambling worries
The SWiS workers’ role involves three key components:
- social work with individual children and their families
- development and implementation of group programmes
- community liaison and service coordination.
Expansion of the SWiS service
In response to strong demand from schools for specialist support for children, the Government recently announced additional funding to expand the social workers in schools (SWIS) service to all decile 1-3 schools with year 1-8 students, increasing the number of schools with SWIS to 673.
The expansion to the service will take a phased approach, and we are currently working with the Ministry of Education to identify schools for the first phase. This will focus primarily on decile 1-3 schools which currently do not have SWiS in Northland, South Auckland and Hawkes Bay. The areas for stage two and three are yet to be confirmed.
Find out more
We want to help students thrive. If you need any further information our SWiS team will be happy to help.
Phone 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459)