MINNESOTA SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKERS ASSOCIATION
2022 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
MSSWA LEGISLATIVE GOALS: MSSWA Legislative Agenda 2022.docx
The Minnesota School Social Workers Association (MSSWA) has been serving children in their schools, homes and communities for over 50 years. We are an association of licensed school social workers throughout Minnesota who work with students and their families to provide mental health related services and support within the school system. Although the roles and responsibilities of school social workers vary between districts statewide, we are united in our common goal of working with the “whole child”. MSSWA defines the “whole child” as working with the child in his/her environment with consideration to family, community, values, culture and language. We help teachers teach by reducing social and emotional barriers to learning by collaborating in the development of academic intervention plans to promote and ensure academic success. School Social Workers incorporate a systems approach to address the mental health needs of children and youth.
QUALIFICATIONS OF THE SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER:
Social workers receive two different sets of credentials: degrees and licenses. Social work degrees are earned from accredited academic institutions. The bachelor level social worker is prepared for practice in mental health case management. The master level social worker has the training and skills to provide services beyond mental health case management through advanced clinical mental health practice. (SSWAA, 2013) School social workers at the master level receiving clinical supervision or holding clinical licensure are prepared through their education, practicum, clinical supervision and licensure to provide clinical mental health services in a school setting. Licensed clinical school social workers use their skills to address the mental health needs of students through evidence-informed assessment, diagnosis, intervention and evaluation of individuals, small groups, families and school-wide. (SSWAA, 2013). Minnesota school social workers are dual licensed by the Minnesota Board of Social Work and the Professional Educators Licensing and Standards Board.
THE ROLE OF THE SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER:
1. School social workers not only provide services to individuals, groups of students and families but also collaborate and coordinate with community agencies or other professionals (such as school-linked mental health professionals) to provide the necessary resources to meet student needs.
Interventions provided though school social work services have shown improved student attendance, reduction of child abuse and neglect, improved graduation rates and early identification of a disability; thus, increasing academic achievement.
2. School social workers address the social, emotional, physical and academic needs of ALL STUDENTS including students whose needs require special education support and services as well as students with in the general education setting.
3. School social workers often focus on providing supports to vulnerable populations of students at high risk for truancy and dropping out of school, such as homelessness, students in foster placement, migrant children, students transitioning between school and treatment programs or the juvenile justice system, or students experiencing domestic violence. (SSWAA, 2013)
4. School social workers serve as a resource to administrators and other educators providing consultation and training on identifying students with mental health needs and a referral process when services are sought.
MSSWA 2022 Legislative Priorities
1. Elevating and diversifying the social work profession:
a. Ensure congruence in mental health laws so that social workers are recognized as mental health providers consistently in state statutes.
b. Close loopholes that allow services to create new job titles with similar expectations as social workers, working around licensing laws.
c. Pursue opportunities to make social work education more affordable and accessible.
2. Medical Assistance Reimbursement for Mental Health Services provided by School Social Workers on IEP's. MSSWA supports including reimbursement for school social work services that are part of an Individual Education Program (IEP) or Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) which provides additional funding for school social work services to students with a disability.
a. In order to maximize federal reimbursement, Minnesota requires school districts to seek medical assistance (MA) reimbursement for health-related services that are provided as part of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) IFSP Individualized Family Support Plan.
b. Services including school social work services exist in statute 256B.0625 as reimbursable through Medicaid for eligible students.
c. School social workers who are qualified mental health professionals and practitioners are currently providing Medicaid eligible behavioral health services but are not able to access federal Medicaid dollars under MN criteria.
d. If Minnesota schools were able to access Federal Medicaid funding using the Special Education criteria, like all other health related services, schools would have more resources to support mental health providers such as school social workers in the school.
e. Surrounding states including Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa do allow reimbursement for school social work services and have generated additional revenue. Wisconsin generates approximately $8 million annually in federal reimbursement and Illinois estimates that they receive between $15 to $20 million annually in additional revenue.
3. Funding for Specialized Instructional Support Personnel - MSSWA supports Governor Walz’s recommendation to invest in funding to address shortages of school support personnel services. This funding will benefit students’ social, emotional, academic, and physical health through additional support personnel positions within district and charter schools, as well as dedicated staff at the Department of Education.
4. Mental Health Services and Early Childhood Social Workers - MSSWA supports the Governor’s funding recommendation for social workers focused solely on early childhood systems, like early intervention school social workers, Head Start, and early Head Start. Early care and education can strengthen programs within these systems and improve outcomes for participating children and families
5. School Based Mental Health Screening - MSSWA supports the Governor’s recommendation to fund a statewide implementation of mental health screening and referral systems in schools by school-based mental health staff, including school administrators, to ensure the mental health and well-being of Minnesota students and staff. Funds will be provided to school districts, charter schools and tribal schools, through a per pupil allocation based on K-12 enrollment count, to obtain professional development on mental health screening of students and school staff well-being self-assessments, procure needed resources and supplies, pay for school staff and time conducting student mental health screening and school staff well-being self-assessments, and other expenses in implementing systems for mental health screening of students and school staff well-being self-assessments.
6. MTSS Equity Centered Model of Service Delivery - MSSWA leaders participated in a MDE work group in 2020-2021 dedicated to developing an equity centered approach to MTSS. A definition for a Culturally Responsive Equity Centered MTSS Model was offered to the legislature last year and did not pass. It will be proposed again this legislative session. This aligns with MSSWA’s commitment to our ethical responsibility as social workers.
The Minnesota School Social Workers’ Association (MSSWA) has been serving children in their schools, homes and communities for over 40 years. We are an association of school social workers throughout Minnesota who work with students and their families to provide mental health related services and support in the school system. Although our jobs differ between districts statewide, we are united in our common goal of working with the “whole child,” MSSWA defines “whole child” as working with the child in his/her environment with consideration to family, community, values, culture and language. We help teachers teach by reducing the social and emotional barriers to learning by collaborating in the development of academic intervention plans to ensure student success. Because of their unique understanding of both the mental health system and the educational system, school social workers play a vital role in our schools by helping students succeed.
If you are wondering who represents you, just go to “Welcome to the Minnesota Legislature.” At the bottom of that page, you can enter your address to find your current State Representatives and Senators. It is important that your Representatives hear from you! You can write them an email, invite them for coffee, or invite them to your school or your regional meetings. Your students and families need their voices heard and you have the power to educate our policy makers on the barriers impacting student success and the invaluable role you provide in helping students overcome these barriers to ensure that they are ready and able to learn.
The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) offers another avenue to stay up-to-date and uncover resources for following and responding to legislation that impacts public child welfare practice. CASCW has put together a Child Welfare Policy web page full of resources to educate child welfare practitioners about the latest developments in child welfare policy as they are happening, as well as educating policy makers about the latest policy relevant child welfare research findings.
CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW FOR DETAILED LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION PROVIDED BY MSSWA REGARDING:
Contact Christy McCoy, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.