Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Kristin Vance Richards


In the United States, 66% of elementary and secondary school students experience academic difficulties. Evidence-based implementation and data-driven practices in the field of school social work to address these academic difficulties are lacking. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the perceptions of school social workers in a public school division in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States regarding the use and effectiveness of case management strategies with at-risk students. Ecological theory and social constructionism theory provided the framework for the study. Qualitative focus group discussion involving 8 social workers in the division was used to collect data. Data were transcribed and analyzed to identify three themes: At-risk students were positively influenced by case management intervention, student outcomes were positively influenced by the availability of supports and ability to connect families to needed resources, and collaboration and effective communication were important for successful case management. Results indicated that disciplinary, academic, and attendance outcomes for at-risk youths are positively impacted by case management interventions. Findings may be used to promote standards of professional conduct for phone and e-mail communication between social workers and their academic colleagues to improve students' behavioral and educational outcomes.

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