Social Workers

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 outlines services required to assist a child with a disability to best benefit from special education. Social work services in schools and parent counseling and training are among those services.

Intermediate Unit 1 social workers assist students at all grade levels in school districts, Intermediate Unit 1 campus schools, or specific Therapeutic Emotional Support classrooms. Districts’ need for social worker services are assessed and met annually. In 1997–1998 IU1 employed six social workers. Today, Intermediate Unit 1 employs 45 master level social workers serving 25 school districts. The majority of IU1 social workers are licensed and several social workers have Home and School Visitors certification. Services provided to meet Individualized Education Plan (IEP) requirements are eligible for ACCESS billing.

Social worker services offered include, but are not limited to:

  • Preparing a social or developmental history of a child with a disability
  • Preparing information for psychiatric evaluations
  • Group and individual counseling with the child and family
  • Working with parents and others on problems in a child’s home, school, or community affecting the child’s school adjustment
  • Mobilizing school and community resources
  • Participating as a member of the IU1 Crisis Team
  • Performing Functional Behavioral Assessments; assisting in developing positive behavioral intervention strategies; problem-solving with students, parents, school personnel, or community agencies; and developing coping, social, and decision-making skills
  • Assisting with the early identification of students at risk and providing early interventions
  • In Therapeutic Emotional Support classrooms, social workers provide comprehensive therapeutic support through group and individual counseling, positive behavioral supports, and case management.

Social Worker Services Referral Process

Federal regulations, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), define related services as transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services that are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes speech-language pathology and audiology services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic recreation, early identification and assessment of disabilities in children, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, and medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes. The term also includes school health services, social work services in schools, and parent counseling and training. Counseling services means services provided by qualified social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors, or other qualified personnel.

The referral process for obtaining social work intervention, outside of the evaluation process, will be as follows:

  • To initiate a request for social work services, the LEA representative or building principal should sign the Referral for Social Work Services form.
  • The social worker will contact the parent(s) and school personnel to schedule intervention(s).
  • Upon completion of the social worker's interventions, the completed Referral for Social Work Services form will be maintained by the social worker and is available upon request.

Social Work Services for Therapeutic Emotional Support (TES)

Social Work Services provide comprehensive therapeutic support through group and individual counseling, positive behavioral supports, and case management with the intention of empowering the student to succeed in his/her educational setting.


  • TES Social Workers, when notified ahead of time, will attend the IEP meeting prior to the student's enrollment in the TES program. Therapeutic goals, amount of sessions, and type of sessions (group and/or individual) will be delineated in the IEP. The TES Social Worker will obtain signed releases of information from parents and student (if over 14) to allow for IU1 communication with other support agencies. At this initial meeting, the Social Worker will obtain parent input on appropriate assessments. The TES Student Information Form will also be completed, in order to obtain current student demographic information. Level of IU1 psychiatric services will be discussed. If psychiatric services are selected, note this on the IEP. Psychiatric services will be coordinated by the Social Worker including medication checks, evaluations, etc.
  • Prior to a student's involvement in group and/or individual sessions, the Social Worker should obtain the student's current Evaluation Report (ER), IEP, Behavior Intervention Plan, Social History, and Psychiatric information.
  • Prior to student's involvement in group and/or individual sessions, the student will meet individually with the TES Social Worker. Group rules and expectations, limits to confidentiality, self-monitoring techniques, and personal goals (based on IEP goals) will be discussed. The Social Worker and student will complete the appropriate self assessments, depending upon the student's program level (elementary, middle, high).
  • The Social Worker will provide services in accordance with IEP requirements.
  • The Social Worker will provide various social skills and/or therapeutic groups within the classroom, with the classroom staff. This facilitates therapeutic rapport between staff members and students, and enhances consistency meeting specific student needs. This also helps the student(s) generalize the skills learned into the classroom setting.
  • At the end of each 9-week period during the academic year, the TES Social Workers will report the student's progress on the goals/objectives sheets of the IEP which will be copied and mailed to the district and parents/guardians.
  • When/if the parent or child requests psychiatric services during the school year (i.e., by phone and/or the Consent for Supplemental Psychiatric Treatment of a Minor form), the TES Social Worker will inform the school's LEA, so that the IEP team can reconvene and revise the IEP as appropriate. A Social History or Social History Addendum may also be completed.

Guidelines for the Provision of Wraparound Services in Intermediate Unit 1 Operated Programs

With a proliferation and the availability of wraparound mental health services in public schools, there is a need to develop a systemic approach to the coordination and implementation of such services. Wraparound services include therapeutic staff support, mobile therapy, and behavioral specialists support.

Roles and responsibilities for personnel providing these services, are described in the January 11, 1994 Medical Assistance Bulletin. In order to meet the mental health and educational needs of students in schools, the following procedures should be followed:

  1. Preferably the decision to provide wraparound services is done in a coordinated fashion through the CASSP/Interagency Team Meeting process that includes representation by local school districts and other educational service providers (e.g., Intermediate Unit).
  2. When consideration is given to the provision of wraparound services outside of the CASSP/Interagency Team Meeting process, mental health service providers must meet with school officials to determine the extent to which there is a need for wraparound services in the school environment.
  3. Prior to the implementation of wraparound services in an educational setting, a meeting must take place among the mental health service providers, the local education agency representative, program supervisor, building principal, the student's classroom teacher, the student's parents, and the student (if appropriate).
  4. Mental health providers need to certify that the individuals providing wraparound services are fully qualified to implement the treatment plans that have been designed for those students. This certification goes beyond the academic requirements and relate to experience and knowledge and the use of specific techniques and strategies for dealing with the mental health needs of students.
  5. Prior to providing the agreed upon school based services each individual therapist must complete a Wraparound Services Request for Classroom Visitation form and submit it to the program supervisor for approval. Each therapist must provide the appropriate clearances (Act 33 and 34) as well as a copy of the student's Treatment Plan with the visitation form. Intermediate Unit 1, in conjunction with appropriate school district authorities, may refuse access to classrooms if these guidelines are not followed.
  6. For students who are receiving educational services through the provisions of Chapter 14 and thus considered special education or eligible students, and for students who are considered otherwise handicapped and receiving service provisions through Chapter 15; mental health services and treatment plans must be coordinated with students' IEPs or service agreements. This includes consideration given to the compatibility of the student's goals and objectives in an IEP or service plan and those stated in the treatment plan. Strategies for treatment that are listed in the treatment plan must be coordinated with those contained within the IEP or service agreement (e.g., use of cognitive strategies for anger control). The classroom teacher is the decision maker regarding the implementation of the IEP within the classroom.
  7. There should be coordination of the approaches to meet the mental health needs of individual students. This includes consideration of the antecedent events that impact on student behaviors, targeting specific inappropriate and appropriate behaviors, and coordinating the consequences for appropriate replacement behaviors and targeted inappropriate behaviors that are to be decreased or eliminated. This functional behavior analysis should also be coordinated with school-wide and classroom-wide behavior support systems that are in place for all students within those facilities.
  8. While mental health services are being provided in school settings, periodic meetings should be scheduled between mental health and educational staff in order to monitor the effectiveness of the educational programs that support student's mental health needs as well as the treatment plan that has been put into place.
  9. All parties must adhere to the confidentiality provisions of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) including verbal and written communication about the student being serviced and other students in the classroom. This includes the sharing of confidential information from the home environment to the school environment and vice versa.
  10. Mental health and educational staff need to be cognizant at all times of the need for cooperation, collaboration, and support for each other. If problems or concerns arise about either staff those individuals need to discuss that among themselves prior to communicating anything to individuals outside that immediate classroom environment. If resolution cannot be obtained, than those individuals need to contact their immediate supervisor to enable them to attempt to resolve the problem.



Download Social Worker-related forms from the Special Education Forms page.

For More Information

For more information about the IU1 Social Worker program, please contact:

Joe Mahoney
Director of Behavioral & Mental Health/Social Work Services
724-938-3241 ext. 246