Where Are We With School Social Workers?

May 11, 2016

Credit Alexa Ard

State funding helped place social workers and other mental health professionals into Nevada schools this year. While Clark County received 104 positions, Washoe County got four. Reno Public Radio’s Noah Glick explores why.

During the 2015 legislative session, state lawmakers awarded a new grant to bring an estimated 161 social workers into schools. If proven successful, the program will be renewed in June.

Victoria Blakeney is with the Office of Safe and Respectful Learning Environments, which determines which schools get funding. She says that all schools have the same right to apply, although when it comes to next school year…

“The schools that currently have a social worker in place…they will be given a priority in terms of points," she says. "Therefore, their likelihood of them keeping their social worker in place is pretty strong.”

That means it’s likely Clark County will keep most of its social workers this fall, leaving a smaller pool for the rest of the state, including Washoe County, which applied for eight social workers in the first funding cycle and was awarded four.

Katherine Loudon is the director of counseling for the district and she spoke with us a few months ago to explain.

“To implement them in schools that are already in session, to have people to start building relationships, and to do that with a short grant cycle, we didn’t want to be unsuccessful," she says. "The district’s already discussed applying for more of them when that option comes available.”

A district spokesperson says there are social workers in Washoe schools who are funded through other sources.