By Carolyn Jones, Photo: Alison Yin/EdSource, EdSource, May 31, 2022
aced with escalating student mental health needs, one California school district is trying an unusual new approach – one that does not include counselors.
Saugus Union School District in northern Los Angeles County, which in recent years has endured a nearby school shooting, wildfires and increasing political polarization, is eliminating all four of its counselor positions and replacing them with social workers. In the fall, the district will have nine social workers and no counselors.
The idea is that social workers are better trained to address some root causes of student anxiety and depression, such as poverty and other hardships that lie beyond the classroom, said Superintendent Colleen Hawkins. They’re also more experienced in working directly with families and connecting them to community services, she said.