Local schools to implement social worker

Published 9:47 am Thursday, December 21, 2017

Both the Middlesboro Independent Schools and the Pineville Independent Schools have decided to come together to share a much needed resource among both districts: a school-based social worker who will provide several important services to both students and their families.

“The addition of a social worker is an outstanding opportunity for children in both districts. So many of our students are in need of help and a school employed social worker will help us provide extra assistance to our families,” said Middlesboro Independent Superintendent Waylon Allen.

The social worker, who will divide their time accordingly among the two districts, will provide an important element to both schools, striving to make sure each student’s basic needs are met. They will work with the children one-on-one, as well as conduct home visits as a way to assist each family within the district with anything they may need.

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This revolution was made possible by the Elgin Foundation, which both Allen and Pineville Independent Superintendent Russell Thompson have been working with for several weeks now in order to secure funding for the schools’ newest position. The foundation has graciously offered to fund a whopping 78 percent of the social worker’s salary, with the remaining 22 percent being divided among the two districts.

As a way to fulfill their goal in providing proper care and assistance to children within the Appalachian region, the Elgin Foundation already funds social workers in several county schools — such as, Clay County, Bell County, Wesley County and Owsley County — but this will be the foundation’s first time offering one to independent districts, and they hope to fund more in the future.

The Elgin Foundation was originally founded in 2003 by Elgin, Tennessee, native B.R. Thompson as a way to provide access to proper dental care to all children living within the Appalachian region, and has since expanded to include several other resources. Along with the dental program, the foundation now includes an advocacy program to help children struggling with abuse and neglect, regular pediatric and healthcare screenings and a reading proficiency program created to ensure that young children are on the right track to receiving the education they deserve.

Since its inception, the Elgin Foundation — now overseen by Thompson’s son, B. Ray Thompson Jr. — has provided assistance for over 35,000 disadvantaged children throughout the region. Those involved in the foundation believe that every child, regardless of their financial situation, deserves the opportunity to receive the basic needs of both healthcare and education. However, along with the children themselves, Thompson strives to also assist any struggling families within the Appalachian area in any way possible, which the addition of school-based social workers tackles quite proficiently.

After both school boards unanimously welcomed the idea, both Allen and Russell met with the foundation earlier this week to discuss the next step in the project. Both superintendents seem very eager to follow through with the plan.

“We are extremely grateful to the Elgin Foundation for the financial support that will benefit the children of the county,” said Allen. “I think it is a great thing that our districts can work together for the good of our children.”