What are school social work consortiums and how does Central Rivers AEA play a role in supporting them?

It’s no secret that youth mental health is a rising concern in our state. Many school districts have identified the issue as a priority and are taking important steps forward to address the need. One important step in this work is the development of mental health school social work consortiums. Central Rivers Area Education Agency (AEA) has played an important role in facilitating this work and serving as a resource for those districts embracing the approach.

A school social work consortium is an agreement between a group of school districts to share a social worker who provides mental health services to their respective students. Generally, this type of consortium has two or three district members. The mental health social worker serving a consortium is funded by the member districts which fund the venture through shared state funding.

Central Rivers AEA has provided support to all district social workers in the Central Rivers AEA service area since 2019. The consortium team is led by two masters-level social workers who support others through collaboration, consultation, networking, resources and training. The AEA has established a network of district school social workers who are able to share information, resources, and evidence based practices though monthly virtual meetings and one-on-one consultation time.

The AEA supports consortiums by empowering school social workers to enhance the social and emotional growth and academic outcomes of all students. This is accomplished by collaborating with federal, state and local entities and providing guidance on the most up-to-date practices. Topics range from school policy as it relates to mental health, social emotional learning, community resources, well-being, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention.

The opportunities of the consortium have been beneficial to the district social workers in guiding them to establish their practice and roles in the district. The role of the district social worker interacts with a variety of systems including the district, family and student systems.

Interested in learning more about school social work consortiums? Contact Central Rivers AEA for more information.

Rod Ball D23 0006

Rod Ball, Director of Special Programs

Rod Ball is the Director of a Special Programs and the lead for Central Rivers AEA school social work consortium. He can be reached at rball@centralriversaea.org. Central Rivers AEA serves over 65,000 students in 18 counties of Iowa. Learn more at www.centralriversaea.org.