School social work in Hungary

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The first steps towards the formation of school social work in Hungary were taken after World War I. At the dawn of the history of Hungarian school social work school nurses (referred to as green cross nurses by Emőke Bányai) were working at schools in the late 1930s [1].

Their work was very similar to that of a present-day social worker. It consisted of individual case work and working with families in the field and at school. The nurses had a college/university degree in education. They belonged to the staff of the school and their scope of duties was shaped according to the needs of the certain school. The nurses offered family care services mainly for families residing in the slums of Budapest in order to prevent academic failure and school dropout [2].

After World War II, the Hungarian political elite declared that child protection above all means education. The first significant change in child protection took place in 1964, when teachers were appointed child protection workers in the kindergartens and schools of Budapest. Elements similar to those in the work of school social workers appeared in the scope of activities of family care workers employed by educational advisory services, which were launched in 1967. In 1975 child protection supervisors were appointed to advise child protection workers at schools. Such child protection supervision functioned until 1985.

Employees of family-care centres established in the mid 1980s have developed a committed social worker identity. They made regular contacts with local schools, kindergartens, and offered various services to the children, parents and teachers they reached there. As a form of youth protection a so-called afternoon-care system was functioning in the 1970s and 1980s with elements resembling present-day social work.

Social and economic changes taking place in the late 1980s and the consequent increase in the rate of unemployment, declassing and dramatic impoverishment of certain social groups, changes in social norms and values and the related emergence and extension of deviant behaviour challenged schools a lot as well. It became obvious that the problems arising suddenly and intensely prevented schools from fulfilling their basic tasks. It was visible that the difficulties mentioned could not have been handled by traditional educational tools. Child protection workers, whose positions were filled by teachers in return for a modest allowance and a one hour weekly reduction in working hours (Annex 1 Act LXXIX/1993), were not able to cope with the task, since they did not have either the qualification or the time necessary for the management of complicated cases. Finally schools stated their claim to employ professionals who provide personal social services for pupils, parents and staff members. [4]

Three basic concepts were developed by the early 1990s to resolute the above problems[edit]

Appointing teachers to the duty of child protection[edit]

Employment of part-time/full-time child protection workers[edit]

There were schools where the management tried to enhance child protection work. Workday of a teacher willing to do and is suited for child protection work was partly or wholly freed up for assisting troubled children and their families. Teachers appointed to child protection work usually did not have proper qualification, neither were they sufficiently equipped (with interview room, telephone and supervision) for the task. Their colleagues often overwhelmed the child protection workers with their feelings of frustration and made unreal demands on them. Among others child protection workers were expected to restore the health of the problem family member at once. As long as the child protection worker is employed by the school it is difficult for him/her to stand for the children and their families against the school administration and staff. He/she is expected to fill in for colleagues on their days off. She/he is expected to do his/her work according to the interests of the school. [4]

Employment of independent child protection workers[edit]

As an improved version of the above model, child protection workers were cut adrift from schools in the early 1990s in districts XV and XVI of Budapest. They were employed by the Educational Service Cabinet. Their duties were appointed by and they were superintended by the educational department of the local government. This model ended the above conflict of loyalties but it continued to use educational means and an educational approach in the resolution of a problem that could only partly be handled in this fashion.The model was criticized for two reasons. On the one hand they continued to employ teachers, who were not qualified for child protection work. On the other hand in state schools administration and the school social worker were both employed by the government. As a consequence, in a conflict between the school and the pupil the school social worker was not able to stand up for the child's rights when her/his own employer was the adversary.

The above two models has proved to be dead ends with respect to school social work. Yet the employment of child protection workers remained standard practice at schools.

Internal school social work[edit]

This approach was introduced by alternative schools established in the early 1990s. These schools were founded with the aim of providing education satisfying the individual needs of children coming from an underprivileged social background and being unable to manage in a traditional school. According to the philosophy common to these models problems can most clearly be seen by a person who directly experience them at school. However, difficulties may also result from this situation, since it is not simple to represent a family against the school or the staff while being employed by that very school.

Nevertheless, such schools have been employing school social workers up to this day. At some schools this practice goes back fifteen years. Success of the model is presumably due to the philosophy that the staff is involved in handling problems that pupils face outside school and that teachers have a supporting attitude toward pupils in class. In these schools educational and social work overlap. According to the educational concept the staff of school relies heavily on utilizing social expertise in educational work. Furthermore, in schools like these (e.g. Burattino, Gandhi Gimnázium, Belvárosi Tanoda, Zöld Kakas Líceum) pupils are facing deep social problems, thus school social work could survive here even when traditional schools ceased to offer or altered this service to a great extent. Therefore both the need emerged among the pupils and educational-academic mission of the alternative schools legitimized the role of the school social worker.

External school social work (The "Ferencváros" Model)[edit]

In Hungary the first teams to be involved in school social work were formed in the early 1990s. Their formation was based on the recognition of how important role schools might play in child and youth protection work (Gedeon 1996). On the other hand teams benefited from the professional assistance members could offer each other. Social services provided by external experts were introduced in several schools at the same time. In a school located in District VII of Budapest school social work, which was launched in Autumn 1991, was rendered by a local child care centre. On the basis of this experience a team of school social workers was set up with the help of the local government in 1992. In District VIII it was also a child care centre that posted a school social worker to a local school. The social worker worked with groups of children with an underprivileged social background and organized summer camping for them. In 1993, in District XI the so-called Child Protection Group initiated child protection services. At the outset the group belonged to the Educational Service Centre, and later it was converted into a child welfare centre (Bányai 2009, Molnár 2009, Mihály 1991). It is important to distinguish the external model from the network of independent child protection workers mentioned earlier. The latter was also organized by an external body, but its superior was the educational department of the local government.

Probably the best-known experimental project carrying out "external" school social work was the "Ferencváros" Network of School Social Workers. The network was started in the Summer of 1992. Later it was renamed "Ferencváros" White Raven Child Welfare Service. In District IX of Budapest, the local government promoted the establishment of the child welfare service in 1992. The concept of the service was developed by dr Mihaly and her colleagues. The main principle on which they stood was the following: "Child protection must be removed from schools, but it must not be handed over to the system of authorities. A child protection system independent form authorities has to be created" (Dr Mihaly, 2008). It is a characteristic of the model that it takes the community surrounding the school including the network of supporting organizations into consideration. From the beginning they aspired to create and run a region-based child protection system. The social worker did not want to take up the child protection worker's duties. He/she focused on to play the role of a mediator, a co-ordinator, a "catalyst". Working with pupils was reduced, since social workers were on duty at schools only once a week. His/her range of activities covered group work, organizing club sessions, summer camping and playrooms, offering homework help instead of doing case management for individuals. Furthermore, they worked with families and were entitled to offer them financial and in kind assistance as well. A structure of services different from that of the traditional school social work evolved due to the lack of modern child protection services and institutions providing customized care for clients in Hungary. Especially services offered to families to prevent children from being removed from their birth parents were not available. There were neither temporary homes for children nor basic child welfare services separated from the operation of authorities. "Ferencváros" Child Welfare Service attempted to fill this gap. The programme is well-known. The expression: "child welfare service" was transplanted to the text of the Child Welfare Act that came into effect in November 1997. After the law came into effect the "Ferencváros" Child Welfare Service underwent a transformation: child welfare activities began to outweigh school social work, which was at the beginning of crucial importance. The Child Welfare Act created absolutely new conditions for the operation of the other networks of school social workers and child welfare services as well, since the already active groups of school social workers were assigned the tasks of child welfare services due to lack of financial resources on the side of local governments.

The Child Welfare Act created a fundamentally new environment for operation of the network of other school social worker services, since – due to lack of finances – most local governments assigned the tasks of child welfare services to the already active groups of school social workers. As a consequence, classical school social work became overshadowed by the corrective tasks of child welfare. As since 1996 Annex 1 of Act LXII of 1996 have been obliging schools to employ a part-time child protection worker, capacities of schools for giving support to their pupils increased in theory. However, in practice schools continued to give this work to teachers without adequate qualifications.

Models of school social work in Hungary after the Millennium[edit]

Since 2004 school social work has been on the upswing. More and more full-time school social workers have been employed. Child welfare services also focus more on school social work. Since the national register of school social workers is currently being prepared we do not have exact data neither on the number and qualifications of school social workers nor on the models they apply in their work. What we know for sure is that several different approaches of school social work were present already at the early stages of its development in Hungary. One can differentiate between the current approaches according to the following variables: 1. Who employs the school social worker? • The school.• An external organization 2. Type of the organization employing the school social worker: • A governmental organization • An NGO 3. Duration of service offered to a certain school: • A full-time social worker offers services for a certain school on his/her full working day. • A social worker works for 4-5 schools. He/she is on duty for several hours in each school every week. 4. How many school social workers are hired by one particular employer? (Can the school social workers attend team case management meetings?) • One social worker is employed (or: no opportunity of case management meetings) • School social workers form a network. (Their work is supported by a case management team.)

The above approaches are different in their organizational structures and in the ways they are financed. The picture can be further detailed by the different technicalities of the approaches. What is the theoretical framework for the given programme? Is social work carried out with families included in services offered? Does the school social worker teach and evaluate pupils by grades besides doing his/her supportive work? What kind of qualification is required from a school social worker?

According to the above at present there are three main approaches to school social work in Hungary: 1. "Internal" school social work or the so-called traditional model, 2. "External" school social work or the "Ferencváros" model and 3. The "Pécs" model. The so-called "employment of teachers as child protection workers" model, which was also included in the classification of school social work models in the early 1990s, is not a member of the group any longer. This was due to the introduction of university degree programmes in social work and social education, to the search for identity of professionals working in he field and to the elaboration of the notion of school social work.

Internal school social work i.e. the traditional model[edit]

According to this model the school social worker's employer is the administrator or the maintainer of the school. The school social worker assists a certain school offering various social services in his/her full working time (8 hours a day in general). The social professional is present at the school all day long, he/she is familiar with its way of functioning, has access to information and is accepted by the staff and the pupils. Very often he/she works alone as a "lone wolf", however he/she tries to form a team with the health professionals (doctor, nurse) at school. Supervision or professional team case management is generally not available for him/her. This model is applied mainly by schools maintained by NGOs (such as Burattino Általános- és Szakképző Iskola, Forrás Szakiskola, Gandhi Gimnázium, Világ Világossága Alapítvány), but a few such state schools also exist (for example Radnóti Szakközépiskola in the city of Pécs, Éltes Mátyás Iskola, Magyarmecskei Általános Iskola). The first school social work programmes to be started in Hungary were members of this group.

External school social work i.e. the Ferencváros model[edit]

School social work is delivered to the school by external suppliers, who mostly work in networks. Each colleague assists 4-5 schools (or kindergartens) at the same time. The service is available for each school for a relatively short time weekly. Group and community work overshadows individual case management. Professionals are highly qualified. They are helped by supervision and team case management. External school social work is implemented mainly by state-run child welfare services such as II. kerületi Gyermekjóléti Központ, Újbudai Humán Szolgáltató Központ Gyermekjóléti Szolgálata, Sopron, Szombathely, Nyíregyháza, but there are some NGO-run services as well (e.g. Periféria Egyesület). Paradoxically, programmes carrying out school social work on he basis of the external model were set back by the Child Protection Act, since the act promoted the corrective child protection activities of the services. However, new emphasis was placed on school social work after the 2003 consensus conference of child welfare services, only 14 percent of services carried out school social work in 2005. Strengths of the model are the employment of professionals with adequate qualifications and the working in networks. Critics of the model blame the departure from the conceptional framework of the traditional model (Bányai 2006), and the so-called "schedule of attendance", which means that a school social worker spends only some hours on social work at a certain school weekly.

The Pécs model[edit]

The "Pécs" model, which was given birth to in 2006, combines the advantages of the previous two models. The school social worker assists one school in his/her whole (full time) working day with social services and he/she attends weekly team case management meetings. There is a team of professionals that supports the school social worker with supervision and individual counselling. The school social worker is employed by an NGO independent from both the school and the child welfare system, thus professional work is less biased by organizational hierarchy. School social workers work in networks, which provides professional control and backup (case management meetings, standardized paper work, registration of clients, social file, individual development plans).

Conceptual framework: child-oriented school social work, which also utilizes modern ecological models. The school social worker applies a preventive approach to find solutions to pupils' problems. He/she uses the methods of individual case work, social group work and community work. Focusing on the whole, he/she is in contact with the child, the family and the school as well. He/she considers both the environment and the complexity of the personality. He/she concentrates on the clients' strengths, strives to invigorate the protective factors. At the same time, taking the complication of problems into consideration, seeks the solutions with the help of a multidisciplinary team (Máté 2008). This model is applied by the Network of School Social Workers of INDIT Közalapítvány at six schools. The model co-operates closely with youth supporting programs outside schools. Moreover, INDIT Közalapítván itself runs youth supporting programmes such as Youth Office "Alternative" (the first youth-supporting programme in Hungary located in a shopping mall), Street Social Work Service and the Party Service (a harm reduction programme for party-goers). Integration of the above programmes into one organization makes it possible for INDIT to reach school-dropouts or truants as well.

Education and professional associations[edit]

As we have mentioned, earlier training ("reproduction") of a profession and the level of activity of its associations are of crucial importance in the formation of the identity and culture of a profession. It is normal practice both internationally and in Hungary that school social workers have a university/college degree in social work or in social education. The two professions, which were rooted in different cultures (social work comes from the United States and social education from Germany), have developed quite similar to each other by now. One can find literature aiming to find the differences between the two professions, but these are based on few scientific evidence and are thus not convincing enough. It is normal practice in Hungary to employ professionals with a degree either in social work or in social education as school social workers. There are some regional variances depending on the type of degree programmes available in the different areas. At Bárczi Gusztáv Gyógypedagógiai Főiskola psychoeducators to be employed in specialized child protection work have been being trained since 1973. From 1985 on several degree programmes training for general child protection have been accredited. ELTE (Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest) launched a postgraduate degree programme in social policy in 1985. Hungarian colleges and universities started undergraduate programmes in general social work in 1989 and in social education in 1990. Requirements of qualification of undegraduate programmes in social studies (social policy, social work, social education) were issued in 1996 (Government Decree on Requirements of Qualification of Undergraduate University Degree Programmes in Social Studies 6/1996 (January 18), Annex 2 (Bucsy 2005). Courses on school social work were quite soon also introduced to the above programmes. Dr. István Budai at Vitéz János Tanítóképző Főiskola (Vitéz János Teacher Training College) in 1991 and Emőke Bányai at ELTE in 1993 were the first to teach this subject. According to the results of a study carried out in 2009 school social work is currently taught at eleven university departments of social work and at six departments of social education. Out of the 21 faculties studied further two faculties of social work and one faculty of social education intend to launch a course on school social work within the next two years. There was only one respondent, the Szombathely Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Pécs, that does not plan to teach any subject related to school social work. School social work is visibly a part of undergraduate degree programmes at most faculties training social professionals, which proves the importance of the subject.

For the time being, school social work is part only of the undergraduate programmes of Hungarian universities. In the United States approximately 33 jurisdictions license or certify school social workers, most require a masters degree in social work (MSW), but a smaller number of states also license bachelors of social work (BSW). This will probably not soon be normal practice in Hungary. However, Kodolányi János Főiskola (Kodolányi János College) plans to launch a yearlong master programme specializing in school social work. The first school social work textbook was published in 1993 by the Vitéz János Tanítóképző Főiskola (Vitéz János Teacher Training College of Esztergom) and the Óvóképző Főiskola (Preschool Teacher Training College of Hajdúböszörmény) and was edited by István Budai. The book was published under the title Papers on child welfare I. – School social work.

The Hungarian School Social Worker Association was founded belatedly, at a conference organized by Kodolányi János Főiskola (Kodolányi János College) on November 30, 2007, in Székesfehérvár. Objectives of the association are the following: - to knit Hungarian school social professionals together - to serve as a scientific and professional basis for school social workers and as an organization representing their interests - to improve the life quality of children and youth living in Hungary by means of spreading school social work all over the country. The association intends to participate in the working up of regulations controlling school social work. As part of the above policy formulation and law making process the Association is ready to contribute to the mapping out of minimal conditions and protocol for school social work and to the improvement of finances.

See also[edit]


  • 1. ^ Bányai, E. (2000). Az iskolai szociális munka és lehetőségei az ezredfordulón Magyarországon. In: Háló, August, pp. 3–5.
  • 2. ^ Pik, K. (1994). A ferencvárosi Gyermekjóléti Szolgálatról. Család, gyermek ifjúság, No. 5, pp. 8–11.
  • 3. ^ Fiszter, E. (1994). Hetedik féléves terepgyakorlat a ferencvárosi gyermekjóléti szolgálatnál. (manuscript)
  • 4. ^ a b Bányai, E. (2006). Az oktatási, nevelési intézmények gyermekvédelmi szolgáltatásainak jellemzői, a szociális szolgáltatások kapcsolódási lehetőségei, fejlesztési hangsúlyai a gyermekszegénység csökkentése érdekében. Gyerekesély Füzetek

Further reading[edit]

  • Albert-Lőrincz,E. (2004). Szociális munka és tanácsadás az iskolában. Ábel Kiadó, Kolozsvár
  • Allen-Meares, P., Washington, R. O., & Welsh, B. L. (1996). Social work services in schools. 2nd ed. Allyn & Bacon, Boston. (extracts translated by Zákányi, E, 2008, manuscript)
  • Paula Allen - Mearres – Robert O. Washington – Betty L. Welsh (1993): Az iskolai szociális munka gyakorlati modelljei. In: Budai, I. (Ed.) Tanulmányok a gyermekjólét köréből I. Iskolai szociális munka. EVJ-TFK, Tanslated by Nagy, N, Hajdúböszörmény, pp. 70–75.
  • Bányai, E. (1997). Gyermekjóléti szociális munka Skóciában. In: Család, gyermek, ifjúság
  • Bányai, E. (2000). Az iskolai szociális munka és lehetőségei az ezredfordulón Magyarországon. In: Háló, August, pp. 3–5.
  • Bányai, E. (2006). Az oktatási, nevelési intézmények gyermekvédelmi szolgáltatásainak jellemzői, a szociális szolgáltatások kapcsolódási lehetőségei, fejlesztési hangsúlyai a gyermekszegénység csökkentése érdekében. Gyerekesély Füzetek
  • Bányai, E. (2009). Iskolai szociális munka. (Oral communication)
  • Bucsy, G. (2005). Szociálpedagógus hallgatók egészség-kulturális magatartásának vizsgálata, különös tekintettel a fizikai aktívitásra. PhD thesis, Semmelweis Egyetem Nevelés- és Sporttudományi Doktori Iskola, Budapest
  • Pierce, D. Tudományos vizsgálat a szakma felfedezése, helye a szociálpolitika rendszerében és tevékenységének színterei. In:Hegyesi Gábor – Talyigás Katalin (Eds.) A szociális munka elmélete és gyakorlata. I. pp. 54–89.
  • Erdenetsetseg Tserenpuu (2008): Fejlődés Mongóliában. Iskolai Szociális Munkások Mongóliai Szövetsége, Ulánbátor. (Translated by Kiss, I.)
  • Fiszter, E. (1994). Hetedik féléves terepgyakorlat a ferencvárosi gyermekjóléti szolgálatnál. (Manuscript)
  • Fodor, É. (2008). Periféria Egyesület iskolai szociális munka programja. Manuscript, Nyíregyháza
  • Gedeon, A. (1996). Dilemmák és nehézségek. In: Budai István (Ed.) Szociális munka az iskolában. Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó, Budapest, pp. 98–106.
  • Germain, C. B. (1996). Ökológiai szemlélet az iskolai szociális munkában. In: Budai István (Ed.) Szociális munka az iskolában. Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó, Budapest, pp. 26–35. (Translated by Pazonyi, J.)
  • Jankó, J. (2008). 100 éves múlt, mai magyar jelen. In: Háló, March, pp. 5–6.
  • Kadota, K. (2007). Az iskolai szociális munka fejlődése Japánban. Fukuoka PESMT, (Translated by Kiss, I.)
  • Kertész, V. (1996). Iskolai szociális munka. JPTE thesis
  • Maros, K. – Tóth, O. (2003). Az iskolai gyermekvédelem helyzete. Gyerekesély füzetek
  • Máté, Zs. (2008). Iskolai szociális munka – a pécsi modell. Manuscript, Pécs
  • Mérksz? A. (2004). Bűnelkövetővé válás megelőzése a tanköteles korú gyermekek, az iskolából kimaradó fiatalkorúak és a fiatal felnőttek körében. OBmB pályázat, Nagykanizsa
  • Mihály, Sz. (1991). A szociális munkás hálózat. Manuscript, Budapest
  • Molnár, G. (2009). Iskolai szociális munka. Oral communication
  • Nagy, M. V. (2008). Iskolai szociális munka statusa. BBTE, Kolozsvár
  • Pik, K. (1994). A ferencvárosi Gyermekjóléti Szolgálatról. Család, gyermek ifjúság, No. 5., pp. 8–11.
  • Raines, J. C. (2008). Evidence-based practice in school mental health. Oxford University Press, New York
  • Richmond, M.E. (1922). What is social casework? An introductory description. Russell Sage Foundation, New York (Extracts translated by Zákányi, E., 2008, manuscript)
  • Dr. Vida, J. (2004). Bűnmegelőzési modellprojekt Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén megyében. OBmB pályázat, Beccaria Bűnmegelőzési Program, Miskolc