PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Troubled students in 22 Philadelphia public schools will have a new resource when classes begin in September. The School Reform Commission on Thursday is expected to approve putting social workers directly in those schools. It’s a plan Mayor Jim Kenney has been working on since before he took office.
Shortly after his 2015 election, the mayor says he broached the idea with city social workers of basing them in schools.
“They went, ‘Thank God.’ They said not only would we want to do it, we would love to do it,” Kenney said. ”
Nearly two years later, which he insists is fast for government, the School District of Philadelphia announced what it optimistically calls “Phase One” of making social workers part of the school staff.
“When you can break that cycle of traumatic experiences that [kids] see on the streets, that they see walking to school every day, which they experience over the weekend when they’re hearing gunfire, it’s PTSD, it’s what these kids live with,” Kenney said. “And to have these skilled folks helping our skilled folks educate our kids and keeping them safe and calm and finding out what their problems are and addressing them, I think we can’t lose.”
Philadelphia School District Superintendent Bill Hite says until now, the only way to get help for a child in crisis was to request the crisis intervention team, of which there is one for over 200 schools — or to call 911.
“This will allow any child to have access to those types of services,” Hite said.
Tangela McClam, principal of Cassidy Elementary, which is in Phase One, is hopeful.
“Something that happens over the weekend that causes a lot of our children that are already fragile to come in and exhibit those behaviors in the school,” McClam said. “I think that this will kind of bring all of the resources together and help us create a better environment for all of our students.”