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School Social Work & Attendance Services

TDSB School Social Work and Attendance Services is committed to an equitable, inclusive and anti-oppressive approach to supporting students and families. We stand against all forms of exclusion and racism. We have an expertise in assessments, interventions, equity, inclusion, anti-racism, advocacy and navigation of systems/services.

Who we are

School Social Workers and Attendance Counsellors help students, families, teachers and administrators to support a student's educational experience.

School Social Workers combine an anti-oppressive and mental health lens to understand the barriers a student may be experiencing in their personal, social or broader environment.

When students experience undue stress in their lives they often have trouble in school, and School Social Workers and Attendance Counsellors work to help students overcome these obstacles to achieve their full potential.

School Social Workers and Attendance Counsellors are part of the multidisciplinary Professional Student Services (PSS) team of the Toronto District School Board.

All TDSB School Social Workers are regulated by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) and subscribe to a set of professional ethics that include respect for the individual’s right to privacy and confidentiality.

We are here to support students through challenges that may be affecting their social and academic well-being. To access a social worker, contact your school.

Attendance counsellors work with students and their families to address attendance concerns.

Facts about School Social Workers

MYTH: There is no School Social Worker at my child's school.

FACT: No. The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has 114 School Social Workers who support nearly 600 schools across the TDSB. Every school in the TDSB has a School Social Worker who supports on average 4-6 schools. School Social Workers support approximately 12,000 to 14,000 students each school year.

MYTH: School Social Workers work for Child Welfare agencies and can take kids away.

FACT: No. TDSB School Social Workers are employees of the Toronto District School Board. School Social Workers do NOT have authority to apprehend or investigate matters of abuse or neglect. At the TDSB we have policies and procedures to protect children that must be adhered to by ALL Staff and Volunteers who have direct contact with children. Anyone in the province of Ontario who has information about the safety of a child must report to the appropriate Child Welfare Agency in their area as directed by the Child and Family Services Act. As School Social Workers, we wish to support families through advocacy and access and often we can be of support to families who may be involved with Child Welfare, acting as allies and connections to school staff.

MYTH: If my child works with the TDSB School Social Worker, the School Social Worker will document this support in the Ontario Student Record (OSR).

FACT: No. The support offered by TDSB School Social Workers is confidential. Any documentation and/or reports completed by the School Social Worker are not included in the OSR. Without consent from a caregiver or the student we cannot share information as it relates to the work done with the student.

MYTH: Working with the School Social Worker will affect my child’s chances of moving into Post-Secondary Education.

FACT: No. Post-Secondary institutions do not request information about School Social Work services/supports provided to your child. School Social Workers cannot share any information pertaining to a child’s treatment or support without parental and/or student consent. When your child applies for post secondary, the Universities and Colleges may request the transcript (which is a synopsis of marks), record of volunteer hours, etc. It is against the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers for staff to share information unwittingly and knowingly to outside parties. Furthermore, School Social Workers are bound by PHIPA which indicates that no information can be shared with outside Agencies or Contacts without written and agreed upon statement and documentation from Parent/Guardian and Student depending on age. For more information about the OSR or Post-Secondary process, please speak with the principal at your child's school.

MYTH: If my child receives support from the School Social Worker this will impact on their ability to get a job or attend Post-Secondary Education.

FACT: No. Again, without consent, no disclosure can be made around anyone’s Mental Health. It is a human rights violation in Ontario to discriminate against someone living with a Mental Health issue and can become a complaint if someone does face discrimination because of their Mental Health Status.

MYTH: If my child sees a School Social Worker, they will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder and cannot continue to go to school.

FACT: No. School Social Workers will not provide diagnosis, though will support families in accessing appropriate resources that can help make such diagnosis. It is up to the Caregiver whether they wish to share any such diagnosis with school personnel.

MYTH: I can refuse services for my child until they are 18 years of age.

FACT: No. In Ontario, Children over the age of 12 can consent to their own treatment. As a result, a student who is 12 and over can refuse or access supports outside of school without parental permission. It is our belief at the TDSB that Parents play a large role in supporting a student's Mental Health and Wellbeing and we will do our best to ensure that Families have been at least consulted on the referral for services and informed consent.

MYTH: I can decline to work with the Attendance Counsellor.

FACT: The Education Act states that it is the responsibility of the Parent/Guardian to ensure that their children attend school regularly. This is mandatory for every person who attains the age of 6 years on or before the first school day in September until the end of June of the year in which the student turns 18.

When Attendance Counsellors contact families due to concerns regarding Attendance, we are acting under the role determined by the Education Act. If a student has missed a problematic or consistent amount of school, the Attendance Counsellor becomes involved to determine a plan and access to further resources that many be required to support students. If we are unable to work with Families to this degree, we may be required to move to an Attendance Review Committee (ARC) meeting which will determine next steps.