More schools gain social workers

By Sophie Ryan

Three more Northland schools will have social workers operating as part of a scheme that aims to make social workers more visible and accessible to vulnerable children.

Kaihu Valley School, St Joseph's Catholic School in Dargaville and Tinopai School will benefit under the second stage of the Government's Social Workers in Schools programme. The three schools join 18 other Northland primary and high schools with social workers in place since July 2012.

The social workers work in partnership with the schools, and are part of the school pastoral care team.

Hora Hora School has had a social worker in the school three days a week since the scheme began last year. Principal Pat Newman said the programme had been beneficial for many families.

"We can build relationships between families and someone neutral, and address any issues.

"We do a lot of liaising with the families to find out what they need. It works on a referral basis that comes from staff, then me, then the social worker."

National MP for Northland Mike Sabin said the programme was a vital frontline response to addressing abuse and neglect.

"If we are serious about protecting children then we need responses across a range of areas and specialist staff in the right place," Mr Sabin said. All decile one to three schools will have access to a social worker in their school by the end of 2013.

- Northern Advocate

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