school social work, training, licensure, social work education, special education, interprofessional, education policy


At present, there is significant variability in the United States in regards to pre-service education and licensing requirements for school social workers. Studies have suggested that this variability impacts practice and may limit perceptions of the profession. The state of New Mexico requires a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree in order to practice as a school social worker but does not require any school-specific coursework, fieldwork, or training. This mixed-methods study describes findings from a survey of 84 school social workers in New Mexico which assessed perceptions of their preparation for practice. Quantitative survey items suggested that participants felt generally unprepared for practice when they began, although school-based fieldwork and supervision by a school social worker positively impacted perceived preparation. Open-ended survey responses outlined specific challenges practitioners faced as they entered the field, described training or experiences they felt could have mediated these challenges, and presented pathways for professional growth taken by school social workers once they were in the field. Findings suggest that lack of school-specific training in the pre-service and early-career phases of practice presented concerns for practitioners and should be an area of focused attention for social work educators, researchers, and policy makers.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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