Practice Guidelines for Delivery of School Social Work Services

Practice Guidelines for Delivery of School Social Work Services

Credentialing and Professional Development

In this section

State Certification

As of July 1, 2003, the following certificates and their requirements are required for anyone serving in the employ of a board of education as a school social worker. Proposed changes to the requirements for certification standards pertaining to school social workers can be found in appendix C.

Sec. 10-145d-564. Initial educator certificate requirements

To receive an initial educator certificate to serve as a school social worker, the applicant shall hold a master's degree in social work from a school of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and has completed a course of study in special education comprised of not fewer than 36 clock hours, which shall include study in understanding the growth and development of exceptional children, including handicapped and gifted and talented children and children who may require special education, and methods for identifying, planning for and working effectively with special needs children in the regular classroom.

Sec. 10-145d-565. Provisional educator certificate requirements

To receive a provisional educator certificate for school social worker, an applicant shall present evidence of meeting the preparation and eligibility requirements for an initial educator certificate, as well as having completed within 10 years prior to application at least 30 months of successful service as a school social worker in a public school; one school year of successful service under the initial educator certificate, interim educator certificate or durational shortage area permit at an approved nonpublic school or a nonpublic school approved by the appropriate governing body in another state.

Sec. 10-145d-566. Professional educator certificate requirements

To receive a professional educator certificate for school social worker, an applicant shall present evidence of 30 school months of successful service under the provisional educator certificate, interim provisional educator certificate or provisional teaching certificate.

All applicants who do not currently hold a valid Connecticut educatorcertificate must meet the following requirements:

  • A passing score on the Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Tests (PPST) or a waiver. A waiver is an alternative to taking and passing the PPST. A waiver may be granted by furnishing official proof of having met one of the following:
  • a total score of 1,000 on the SAT, with neither the mathematics nor the verbal subtest scores below 400 points from any test administration on or before March 31, 1995, or a combined score of 1,100 or more with no less than 450 on either the verbal or mathematics subtests from test administrations on or after April 1, 1995;
  • no less than 22 on the English subtest and no less than 19 on the mathematics subtest on the American College Testing (ACT) program assessment from test administrations on or after October 1989, or the equivalent ACT scores of no less than 20 on the English and 17 on the mathematics from test administrations before October 1989; or
  • a total score on the Prueba de Aptitud Academica (PAA) equivalent to a combined score of 1,000 on the SAT with neither the mathematics nor the verbal subtest score below the equivalent of 400 points.In addition, a minimum score of 510 on the English as a Second Language Achievement Test or the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

If you require further information, please contact:

Bureau of Certification and Professional Development
Connecticut State Department of Education
P. O. Box 150471
Hartford, Connecticut 06115-0471
Telephone: 860-713-6969
Fax: 860-713-7017



School social workers are not required to obtain licensure through the DPH and, in the performance of the school-related duties, do not work under their license should they hold one. However, many school social workers may desire to obtain their clinical license as a means of identifying their clinical skill set and competency.

An applicant for licensure by examination shall meet the following requirements:

  • hold a master's or doctorate degree from a social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education(CSWE);
  • successfully completed 3,000 hours of post-master's social work experience including not less than 100 hours of work experience under professional supervision by a licensed clinical or certified independent social worker;
  • successfully completed the Clinical Level Examination of the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).

If you have further questions, please see the ASWB Examination Candidate Handbook. This handbook contains information on the examination, registration, admission to the examination and Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations. For additional information, review related informationthe Connecticut DPH provides.



Supervision remains an important requirement for the professional growth of school social work staff. "The administrative structure established by the LEA [local educational agency] shall provide for appropriate school social work supervision (NASW Standards for School Social Work Services, 2002, p. 25). Because a school setting is educational and not clinical, except in residential educational/mental health facilities, the term, "supervision" incorporates activities at two levels: administrative and professional.

Administrative supervision refers to operational supervision, which includes the on-site, day-to-day, nonclinical supervision of staff as they perform their regular duties in adherence to local, state and federal regulations. Such supervision does not require clinical proficiency in the practice of social work and can be provided by an appropriately credentialed individual knowledgeable about school social work, such as a school principal or school district administrator.

Professional supervision of school social workers involves both clinical supervision, which is the oversight of the therapeutic interventions provided by the school social worker and discipline-specific supervision, which provides context of the delivery of social work services within the structure of the educational setting. Professional supervision requires a specialized knowledge base and experience in the practice of school social work. Credentialed, experienced social workers optimally should provide clinical supervision and consultation to all school social workers working within the district. A social worker with the LCSW license or the advanced certified social worker certification (ACSW) is an appropriate person to perform supervisory duties. NASW also has a specialty certification, the credentialed school social worker specialist certification, C-SSWS, which some districts may prefer as an appropriate requirement for a person to serve in a school social work supervisory position. While other social workers or members of other therapeutic professions (e.g., school psychologists) may provide clinical supervision, only an individual holding an advanced degree in social work can provide discipline-specific supervision.

Discipline-specific supervision is essential during a newly graduated school social worker's first two years of practice. Ideally, such supervision is "face-to-face" and provided on a weekly basis. Such supervision promotes professional competence and ensures that high-quality social work services are provided to students, families, school staff and the community. In addition, discipline-specific supervision contributes to and guides the professional growth and development of the school social worker.

Absent discipline-specific supervision, districts may appoint a lead school social worker who could facilitate peer supervision or serve the role of a "mentor" for existing and new school social workers. The lead school social worker should have at least three years of experience in a school setting, an LCSW license or ACSW credential, and have completed coursework in social work supervision, such as the Field Work Supervision course. The Field Work Supervision course is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and is required when a social worker is a field-work supervisor of a student enrolled in a master's level social work program.

Supervision is the primary tool for staff development. However, staff meetings, conferences and workshops are additional resources that can be used to enhance staff awareness of relevant developments in the profession and to provide training in new methodologies and techniques. "The local education agency shall provide opportunities for school social workers to engage in professional development activities that support school social work practice. Funding support and an adequate number of professional leave days enable school social workers to strengthen and broaden skills required to better serve students, families, the local education agency, and the community" (NASW, 2002).

Coordinators and supervisors of school social work staff may have additional responsibilities beyond supervision and staff development. Such coordinator/supervisor should also assume the following roles and responsibilities:

  • provide information regarding available community resources;
  • be an interpreter and liaison to other administrators, helping them understand school social work programs and practices;
  • be a support for school social work staff;
  • be a teacher of methods to enhance the school social worker's ability to function effectively as a member of an educational team;
  • provide a link between school social workers, as well as a link between school social workers and other support and special education staff;
  • develop procedures that standardize practice;
  • interpret and advocate school social work practice within the school and within the community; and
  • provide direction through determination of priorities and program evaluation. (CSDE, 1989).

For institutional supports related to the duties of school social work coordinators and supervisors, please refer to Evaluating School Social Workers.