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MCS social workers help students to adjust in social, emotional and life situations

MADISON – A trio of trained professionals within Madison City Schools’ network is working to link students and families with community resources that can help.

DeAnna Haataja, Heather Hicks and Briana Hawkins serve as social workers in the MCS district. Their work was highlighted in the minds of parents, faculties and staffs during National School Social Work Week on March 6-12.

The 2022 theme is “Time to Shine.”

Haataja, Hicks and Hawkins function as a unit to assist in a variety of ways. For example, they publish a newsletter to communicate updates, resources and success stories each month.

A school’s social workers are trained mental-health professionals with a degree in social work. They help with a person’s social, emotional and life adjustment to school and society, according to the School Social Work Association of America.

Social workers stand as a link between the student’s home, school campus and community in providing direct/indirect services to students, families and school personnel to support students’ academic and social success.

In Madison, one resource for students and their families is food. MCS employees always strive to prevent any child to experience hunger — even when they are not at school.

MCS and its social workers partners closely with Trinity Baptist Church at 1088 Hughes Road in Madison. Trinity has a food pantry that is designated solely for Madison City Schools students. To qualify for a food box, a student needs to be identified as low income or have special circumstances that place them in need.

In addition, Asbury Church has a food bank that families can visit at any time during business hours on Monday through Friday. If a family does not have transportation to go to the church, they can contact MCS social workers who will arrange for Asbury to deliver food to the home.

Teachers in the MCS district who have a student that needs food assistance immediately can contact MCS social workers, who can connect the family to a local resource for food.

Other responsibilities for social workers are McKinney-Vento student families (so named because a legislative act). The McKinney-Vento Act defines homelessness as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.”

Social workers also can help the child receive school supplies, free school meals, transportation to/from school and community resources.

For more information, contact a MCS school counselor, a MCS social worker or Natalia Dooley, Federal Programs Coordinator. Call 256-464-8370 or visit smore.com/qv6tw for the social workers’ newsletter.

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