On-site social workers at Claremore Public Schools promote student health

CLAREMORE, Okla. — The first school-based social workers began in the 90s in Rogers county. Since then, Claremore has expanded these programs and added on in the name of student health and safety.

Claremore has been ahead of the curve when it comes to school health and safety as they have had school resource officers at all their public schools for years. However they didn’t stop there, they took it a couple of steps further.

Clare more has behavioral coaches at all their schools. The behavioral coaches are free to Claremore schools. They acquired them through a mental health agency 6 years ago after receiving a grant for a program called behavioral intervention in the school setting.

Claremore has two on-site social workers one for elementary and one over at secondary schools. Claremore partners with DHS for the onsite social workers.

“We all know unless a student comes to us happy healthy stable and ready to learn we can’t do our jobs,” said Julie Geiger director of special services for Claremore Public Schools.

The main difference between behavioral coaches and social workers is that the coaches work more with the students and their day-to-day life. The social workers are more active with the family and student safety. The motive for the coaches and social workers is to keep the students and families healthy and safe. Families can acquire assistance from the social workers for counseling opportunities or a lack of resources, Geiger explained.

“They are able to do things a school can not do. In that wrap-around capacity of being able to go into homes and offer resources to families, it is not a got you situation it is a how can I help the situation,” said Geiger.

Courtney Burnshire, the DHS-embedded school-based social worker explains this adds to child safety.

If there is a concern about a child or she is checking up she is there to help the family. She wants to offer resources and assistance, not place blame, Burnshire explained.

There’s nothing to be nervous but we’re here to help no judgment,” Burnshire said.

The social workers are a big help to the school when it comes to truancy. Most schools suffer major truancy issues now and the social workers have jurisdiction to call the families, track down the child, and make sure they are okay.

“Someone gets pulled out of school and they don’t know what’s going on other schools don’t have a way to find out and Claremore does I’m able to find out where the child is what’s going on are they re-enrolled somewhere else,” Burnshire said.

In an emergency case, Burnshire would involve Claremore Child Welfare. Her presence makes it impossible for any child to slip through the cracks.

The Claremore administration is a large reason why the schools are so well equipped for student health and safety, Burnshire believes.

“The people who are running the school district right now are family people they care about family they care about their community,” Burnshire said.

“Providing these mental health services providing these support services for families makes us a healthier community and as a healthier community, you have healthier families and healthier children,” said Geiger

Claremore has also had school resource officers stationed at all of its public schools for years. According to Burnshire, the other schools with on-site social workers include Broken Arrow, Union, and the Tulsa School for Arts ad Sciences.