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Social services in the Vancouver public school system : a comparative survey of the administration of social services to pupils: Mental Hygiene Division (Metropolitan Health Committee), special counsellors and other relevant teaching personnel, Vancouver, 1959 Watson, Eunice Lenore


It is well established that many social and emotional ills which beset adults in their later life have their origins in childhood. There is also considerable agreement among the professions that the detection of problems among children during their school years is desirable, also that what appear as "educational" or "learning" problems may have counterparts or causes in the home. All this makes "mental hygiene" services in the schools important. Stemming originally from the public health and medical examination services for school pupils, there have been extensive developments in the Vancouver School System, culminating in the Mental Hygiene Division of the Metropolitan Health Committee (Greater Vancouver) and the Mental Health Co-ordinators (prior to 195^) and Special Counselling personnel of the Vancouver Board of School Trustees. The present study approaches the context of these by posing the question: what social services are available to school children in this community, and how are they obtained? As the first local study of this kind, however, it is confined principally to the administrative aspects of the subject. A recent analytical survey of school social workers (or "visiting teachers") in the United States (by Mildred Sikkema) is used as a comparative base. The social work services of the public schools in Portland, Oregon, are described as a good working example of administrative integration between education and social work. A brief survey was made (by correspondance) of school social work in nine of the provinces of Canada. The intensive part of the present study is approached through job descriptions of the professional personnel who administer social services for school children. Very marked similarity appears between the job description of the Special Counsellors, and school social workers as typically described elsewhere. Special Counsellors and school social workers face the same kinds of problems, although their training background is different. The study indicates that there is overlapping between the services of the Special Counsellor and the public health nurse as set out in the job descriptions. However, this overlapping does not constitute a difficulty because of the heavy demand for welfare services and the lack of personnel to meet existing needs. Case study and sample area studies would seem to be needed to establish how Special Counselling would apply to the more deep-seated problems of children and how far social work contributions might be improved. Need for an analytical survey of the Special Counsellor's function as a co-ordinator of welfare services within the school system and the geographic community is also indicated.

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