Methods: Using a statewide survey of school social workers (n=383), we determined the current roles of school social workers in Louisiana. The population from each type of school social work practice district was obtained through consultation with the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), direct contact with school districts, and information received from interested parties. Based on the national and state descriptions of school social work practice and school districts' social work job descriptions, a 46-item instrument was developed to survey school social workers in Louisiana. The items were designed to obtain demographic information from respondents and to ascertain their role in the particular school district they serve. The survey was distributed through email using a Survey Monkey link. The data in the survey were analyzed using descriptive and bivariate statistics to look at the relationship among practice in the different types of settings in which school social workers practice in Louisiana and regions of the state in which school social workers practice.
Results: Outcome data suggested distinct differences in the roles undertaken by school social workers in Louisiana. Based on results of the survey, three distinct roles were identified as being practiced most often—evaluation and coordination of special education evaluations, school-wide prevention and consultation, and mental health service provision.
Implications: By establishing a set of standard roles, training and policies can be put in place to reinforce the role of the school social worker and to provide a solid foundation for advocacy of school social work in an era of budget cuts and accountability requirements. Linking the Louisiana state survey and role definitions to other state and national surveys can also lead to a national role definition increasing the marketability of school social work as a means for improving student outcomes in the school setting.