Toronto District School Board
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Social Work and Attendance Services

Social Work and Attendance Services

PSS logoSchool social workers and attendance counsellors help children, families, teachers and administrators to maximize a child's educational experience. When students experience undue stress in their lives they often have trouble in school and social workers work to help children overcome these obstacles to achieve their full potential. 

School social workers are part of the multidisciplinary educational team of the Toronto District School Board. As certified members of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW), TDSB Social Workers possess at least a Masters Degree from an accredited University. 

Attendance counsellors are assigned to address attendance issues at the secondary school level. At the elementary level the school social worker is responsible for these referrals.

Key Information & Contact
Helpful Readings

Issues We Address

School Social Workers can help students, families and/or schools when the following issues arise:

  • aggression, anger
  • attendance
  • bullying
  • alcohol and/or drug abuse
  • behavioural problems
  • child abuse
  • classroom problems
  • communication difficulties
  • death
  • depression
  • family problems
  • mental health
  • new immigrant transitions
  • parenting questions
  • poor peer relationships or social skills
  • pregnancy
  • remarriage
  • separation/divorce
  • self-esteem
  • sexuality
  • special education
  • stress
  • unhappiness

How We Can Help

We offer a wide variety of services. The parents/guardians, principal, teachers, and other professionals work as a team to help each student. School Support Teams meet regularly each month to identify and decide on a plan of support to benefit students.   When a student is referred to social work services, we obtain permission from the parent/guardian(s) and begin our assessment. We then decide on how best to serve our clients.

Our services include the following:

Advocacy  Individual Counselling 
Agency Liaison Multicultural Outreach
Assessment Parenting Skills
Attendance Counselling Policy Development
Classroom Interventions Practical Aid
Community Development Prevention Initiatives (e.g. Suicide, Child Abuse, Bullying)
Community Referrals Program Development
Consultation School Team Consultation
Family Counselling Training other Professionals
Group Counselling Trauma Response


Individual Counselling
Students are seen individually to help them cope with different school, community or family situations. Also they receive assistance to help them with self-esteem, social skills, anger management and conflict resolution strategies.

Group Counselling
From time to time, students are offered an opportunity to join groups to discuss and learn about a variety of life skills. The social worker leads a group of students who are close in age and who share a common concern. Group themes include Divorce and Separation, Grief and Bereavement, Anger-Management and Conflict Resolution, Social Skills, and Self-Esteem. In addition to student groups, parent groups are organized to discuss discipline, behaviour concerns, healthy emotional development and the family system.

Family Counselling
Depending on the concern, it is sometimes very helpful for a social worker to meet with the family of the student.

Attendance Counselling
Attendance counsellors or school social workers consult with school personnel and parents/guardians, and examine patterns of irregular attendance.  Students are encouraged to continue their education and  are given opportunities to return to their regular classes, or to attend modified or alternative programs.

Classroom Intervention
School social workers are invited into the classroom to instruct students on a variety of issues such as peer relations, bullying, street-proofing, dating violence, respect for the rights of others, and to discuss tragic events which impact the students.

Crisis Response
School social workers assume a lead role in the TDSB's Crisis Response. Following a crisis or tragic event in a school, immediate support is offered at the school level in consultation with the school principal and staff.

Consultation on Social-Emotional Issues
School social workers are available for informal consultation on social/emotional issues affecting the lives of children.

Referrals to Outside Agencies
School social workers are available to facilitate referrals to social agencies and recreational facilities for children in the community.

Consultation Regarding the Child Abuse Policy

School social workers are available to provide in-service sessions to staff at schools on child abuse policies.