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BCSD social workers need community support in making holidays pleasant for at-risk youth

Published Sunday, November 24, 2019

When it comes to education, many will tell you the best learning experiences are those that can happen when the needs of the “whole child” are met. Addressing those needs of the whole child is where education and social work often overlap.

In Berkeley County School District, there are nine social workers that serve as the essential connection between the home, school and community. This time of year is the busiest for the team, as they work to do everything they can to make the holidays more pleasant for some of BCSD’s most at-risk students.

“We hope to make the holidays a little sweeter,” said BCSD Coordinator of Programs for Children at Risk Elaine Swain.

By the end of the 2018-2019 school year, Swain and her team had identified more than 300 homeless students in the county. This year that number approaches 200 as we close in on the Thanksgiving holiday. Swain said this years count will double by the end of the school year.

To make an impact on addressing the needs of those children, BCSD social workers depend heavily on grants and community involvement/donations.

“We would surely appreciate any donations the community may provide to serve our students,” Swain said.

She and her social workers are busy with more than a half-dozen initiatives, from stocking a clothing closet for homeless students to the annual Berkeley ONEderland holiday gift drive.

“The school district is so much bigger than what we do in the schools,” Swain said. Caring for these students in the schools, in these situations, extends into the home environment — whatever that is.”

As homeless students progress through the school system and become adults, Swain said the stigma of homelessness eventually catches them. It’s why she and her team work endless days to make positive impacts early in their lives.

“Once they become adults, we as society forget about them,” she said.

If you are interested in making an impact in the life of one of Berkeley County School District’s at-risk students, by donating to the clothing closet or the Berkeley ONEderland holiday gift drive, please contact Renee Elvis at 843-899-8514.


Brian Troutman