Jonathan Ballew, Block Club Chicago
Overworked Social Workers, Underserved Kids: As CPS Works To Fill 100+ Vacancies, ‘Kids Are Getting Shortchanged,’ Teachers Say
"I feel like I have to turn hurting children away," said one social worker, while others described the situation as a mental health crisis, especially for general education students.
CHICAGO — Mary Difino is a Chicago Public Schools social worker, responsible for nearly 1,000 students at two different schools. She splits her time between schools and is buried with paperwork that takes up 75 percent of her time.
“I question how much I’m helping,” she said.
Difino’s story is the norm for social workers at CPS, where the majority of schools do not have at least one full-time social worker.
There is currently one social worker for every 865 students, and most split time between two schools. CPS said there are 346 full-time social workers for nearly 299,394 students at neighborhood schools.
If that sounds like an impossible caseload, that’s because it is, according to the National Association of Social Workers. They recommend one social worker for every 250 students, and one social worker for every 50 students in schools with high levels of trauma.
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