Factors Influencing School Social Work Practice: A Latent Profile Analysis

Abstract

The present study uses a national sample (N = 3769) and a latent profile framework to examine profiles of school social workers who engage in various levels of ecologically oriented practices at school and in the home and community. Three profiles emerged from the data that consisted of school social workers who reported engaging in low, medium and high levels of ecological practice behaviors across school, family, and community domains. Further examination revealed that school social workers fitting into the profile marked by high levels of self-reported practices at school, with families, and to facilitate community-school linkages were more likely to have a graduate degree, work in a state with certification standards, and have 10 or fewer years of experience compared to school social workers in the other two profiles. Additionally, school social workers who reported high levels of ecological practices were more likely to use evidence-based assessments, programs/practices, and engage in universal school-level prevention efforts more frequently compared to those in the low and medium profiles. Practical implications include the need for pre-service and targeted in-service training as well as policies that support minimum—if not lofty—competencies and state or national certification standards for school social work professionals.

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Correspondence to Aaron M. Thompson.

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The research performed here was approved and overseen by the Institutional Review Board of Loyola University at Chicago.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Thompson, A.M., Frey, A.J. & Kelly, M.S. Factors Influencing School Social Work Practice: A Latent Profile Analysis. School Mental Health 11, 129–140 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-018-9279-y

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Keywords

  • School social work
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Barriers
  • Ecological systems theory
  • Latent profile analysis