An Educational Welfare Officer (also known as educational social workers) is a job title in the United Kingdom. These welfare officers are government employees that provide services to resident children, particularly pertaining to their school attendance and performance and the link between home and school life. The Educational Welfare Officer's main objective is to correct detected problems but may include having to enforce legal consequences with neglectful parents.
Serving the Child
The main responsibility of an EWO is to serve the interests of a child with a history of absences or irregularities in attendance at school. They are to first investigate the cause of truancy and determine if it is linked to a larger problem, at which point they may be working alongside other government officials on the case.
EWOs need to be trained to deal with any number of reasons for a minor's absence and communicate with the appropriate government and school officials as the case proceeds. These other causes could include but are not limited to health issues, family problems ranging from child and substance abuse to separation, school bullying or complications arising from the parents' illegal status or working conditions.
Alternative Education and Assistance Programs
In situations where a student is experiencing consistent health problems themselves or in their immediate family, the EWO will work with the school, family and health care professionals to develop and implement an alternative educational system. This could be a form of homeschooling, distance learning program or on-site tutoring. A similar situation will be worked out if a child is otherwise unable to attend traditional school, such as if the pupil is suspended or expelled. Disabled or special educational needs qualifying children encountered by the EWOs are directed to the provisions legally entitled to them. In instances where a financial problem or work schedule of a parent is interfering with attendance, the EWOs will make sure the parents know of any government or assistive program designed to help, such as school transportation programs, clothing drives and school meal allowances.
Report Writing and Evidence Gathering
All of an EWO's assignments will result in some report writing and evidence gathering. These measures will be especially important in situations where legal action must be taken against the child's parents or in the child's defence.
Each school or local authority has an office for their resident EWO but the majority of their work is done outside of the office. They spend most of their working days visiting with the absent children and their families during the 9-to-5 business hours but also visit homes in the evening and attend parents' nights at the school as part of their duties.
Working with Other Officials
EWOs routinely work with the government's social services department as their investigations and follow-ups play out. In complex situations, an EWO may be required to construct a network of support for the child that could include educational psychologists, probation services departments and the government career services team.
Connexions Direct, the youth-oriented government office that hires EWOs, reports that the annual salary range for an EWO is between 18,000 and 55,000 pounds.