Social Work Services
Our mission is to empower students to achieve academically by reducing social, emotional, economic, and environmental barriers to learning by linking students and families to school-based and community resources. Additionally, the Office of Social Work Services covers the following areas: referrals for chronic failure to complete school work, aggressive or impulsive behavior, frequent physical complaints, depression, irregular school attendance, teen pregnancy, cultural/linguistic barriers, unaccompanied youth, housing, and economic issues.
Please contact your school social worker if your child is having difficulties in any of these areas. We can assist your family in finding resources in the community to help your child be more successful at school and in life.
- Improve academic performance
- Improve attendance and decrease tardiness
- Improve behavior to eliminate disruptions
- Improve parenting skills
- Improve parent participation in student's education
- Improve interpersonal relationships
- Obtain community resources to meet the needs of families
- Secure counseling for the student/family
Academic/Behavioral IssuesSocial workers observe and assess children who have difficulty in the classroom and make recommendations to help students become successful in school. Home visits are conducted to strengthen the home/school connection. Social workers and their interns provide educational support groups when warranted to address specific issues.
Community ResourcesSocial workers assist families who are applying for housing, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. Social workers also help families who need assistance with school supplies, utility bills, clothing, securing medical and dental care, referrals to mental health agencies and General Educational Development (GED) programs. Social workers work closely with community agencies such as Department of Human Resources (DHR), Juvenile Court, Tuscaloosa Mental Health Alliance, Catholic Social Services of West Alabama, Tuscaloosa’s One Place, Salvation Army, Community Service Programs of West Alabama, Turning Point, Tuscaloosa Housing Authority, and local churches. Social Workers co-lead Grandparents United, a community support group for grandparents raising their grandchildren.
Cultural/Linguistic BarriersSocial workers assist with registration of new students and help to attain documentation for enrollment. Parent meetings are conducted quarterly with Spanish-speaking families to acclimate them to the policies of the Tuscaloosa City Schools and community resources.
Social workers are available to attend parent/teacher conferences, Referral and Eligibility, and Response to Intervention (RTI-Problem Solving Team) meetings. Assistance is also given to students who are being tested for special education services. Translation of school documents and letters from teachers are provided when necessary.
Medicaid/ALLKidsSocial workers assist families in obtaining medical insurance when eligible. They also help with the referral process to specialists as needed. To learn more, click here.
Mental HealthSocial workers provide short-term brief counseling for students and support groups as needed. Our school district also partners with Indian Rivers who provides “The Journeys Program” to make mental health services more available to children. Counseling services are provided at various school sites in the Tuscaloosa City Schools weekly.
Suicide PreventionSuicide is the second leading cause of death among children, teens, and young adults ages 10-24. Many young people who are at risk of suicide attend school and exhibit warning signs that, if recognized and acted on, could prevent death or injury and reduce emotional suffering. The Tuscaloosa City Schools has a Suicide Protocol that informs all staff members how to recognize warning signs and get help for students. Social workers assist counselors in making referrals for services.
Social workers work with students, school nurses, counselors, Youth for Christ, and Tuscaloosa Extension Services to provide support and encouragement for these students to remain in school. Social workers specifically provide case management services for teen moms. Social workers also assist in arranging childcare services, consistent medical care, and ensuring homework packets are completed during the teens’ absence from school.
Social Work Services
Kara L. Bernal, MSW, LICSW, PIP
Coordinator of Social Workers