Last updated June 10, 2015
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Multisystem Skills and Interventions in School Social Work Practice

This compilation of articles—authored by leading writers, practitioners, academicians, and advocates—is an excellent addition to the rich literature on the interface of social work and education. Over the course of this 20th century, we have seen social work practice in schools expand in directions that have reflected new knowledge. The entire field of child and adolescent development has emerged. Multiple theories have arisen about how schools should respond to both internal forces, such as changing demographics, and external forces, such as taxpayer demands for greater fiscal accountability in education and legislative mandates for inclusion of vulnerable groups of pupils and families in regular education services. There have been shifting views on how communities evolve over time, given their financial and human capital resources and their migratory patterns. Clearly, during the next century we will continue to witness even more profound transformations in the school and in society, spurred on by advances in information technology and by changing employment opportunities in the labor market, including the displacement of workers who are employed in today’s traditional occupations.

In keeping with the ecological perspective that serves as the grounding framework of this book, no level of practice or size of systems is ignored; large, intermediate, and small systems are presented as targets of change and as repositories of resources. To promote positive developmental and learning outcomes and to create functional health support systems for children and their families, 21st-century school social work practitioners will need knowledge about a spectrum of multilevel interventions. These social workers will be expanding approaches to classrooms and small groups, empowering groups, finding ways to improve and sustain community development, strategizing about multicultural organizing, writing grant applications and proposals, advocating in political and legislative arenas, and creating processes to link support systems and integrate social work services on behalf of children and families.

The chapters presented in this book cover the breadth of social work practice with school-age children and their families as well as the multiple and complex systems in which these clients interact functionally and dysfunctionally. The authors do not shy away from the needs of vulnerable groups of children: those who are truant, homeless, or have disabilities; students of color; victims of sexual and physical abuse; those who are HIV-positive or are battling full-blown AIDS; and those who feel great emotional despair and contemplate suicide.

Multisystem Skills and Interventions in School Social Work Practice is grounded in a strengths-based perspective that replaces our pathology preoccupation with a focus on the normative. It offers proactive techniques for practitioners to draw on for individual and systemic change.

Paula Allen-Meares, PhD
Dean and Professor
School of Social Work
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor