Learning about Texas school social workers: The Texas School Social Work Network’s initial survey findings

School social workerTexas school social workers are an integral part of a student’s success in school. However, the role of social workers varies across the 1,250-plus school districts in the state. Social workers have the training to provide a comprehensive range of services to students and their families that are critical to providing holistic mental health services in schools.

In order to more fully understand the professional roles of Texas school social workers, we developed a 10-minute self-report survey administered to social workers practicing in schools around the state. A total of 221 professionals completed our TSSWN survey in the winter of 2020, many of whom were initially recruited to participate from the Texas School Social Workers Conference, hosted by the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. The survey explored school social worker demographics, common characteristics of school social work practice, types of tasks performed, special populations served, types of barriers faced, and the tools and trainings these professionals felt they needed most.

In summary, we found that school social workers in Texas serve populations at a high risk for lower academic achievement including students experiencing homelessness or foster care, students who are refugees or immigrants and students in special education. In terms of barriers in their work, 44% of social workers responded that there were unclear or conflicting expectations as to their roles in the school, 42% noted there are systemic inequalities in their school and/or community and 40% indicated that their workload was too high. In terms of their work on campus, 61% provide crisis intervention, 71% facilitate individual or group counseling and 71% provide case management for the child’s family. 

The findings from this survey suggest that social workers provide crucial tasks to support vulnerable students and their families, but they also face barriers in their work and would like further tools and training to enhance their practice. To help meet the needs of school social workers and support the important role of social workers in schools, we have created the Texas School Social Work Network (TSSWN).  The vision of TSSWN is to bring together school social work practitioners in Texas with faculty and researchers at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work . While several excellent organizations exist already to support school social work professionals, the TSSWN aims to promote the school social work profession by bringing together practitioners, researchers and policy makers to develop Texas-specific tools and up-to-date research to support best practices in school social work.


  • Build evidence for a school social work model that works within existing school-based mental health models.
  • Unite school social workers all over Texas and provide a place for these professionals to grow, learn and collaborate.
  • Develop practice & evaluation tools that school social workers can use in their daily practice with students, their families and communities.
  • Provide trainings and educational opportunities to school social workers who want to grow their practice.

Stay tuned for more detailed survey result findings later this year, and be sure to sign up for our TSSWN newsletter listserv if you’d like to learn more about the development of TSSWN and our next steps.