Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Kari L. Fletcher


Social Work


The ongoing impact of divorce on elementary school-aged children has been associated with lower academic achievement, behavioral problems, relational issues, depression, and risk of developing short-and long-term mental health symptoms. School-based divorce support groups are one way children may receive support to cope with ongoing stressors associated with growing up in divorced or separated families. The purpose of this project was to explore elementary school social workers perspectives regarding what services they are able to provide to children who come from divorced, separated, or never married households and at what frequency. If divorce groups were offered in an elementary school setting questions were asked regarding what makes an effective group, and if groups were not run questions were asked regarding what services school social workers can provide. Using a qualitative design, interviews were conducted with nine elementary school social workers, located in the Twin-Cities area and greater Minnesota. This study found that elementary school social workers indicate the use of engagement activities such as group activities and play helpful components of engaging students in family change groups. Participants also shared benefits elementary school-aged children derive from group such as learning coping skills and normalizing divorce experiences. Another area participants identified is a change in how elementary school social workers provide support with a shift in elementary social work roles and funding. These findings indicate that further study into how elementary school social workers roles and funding may have changed the landscape of social services available to children from divorced, separated or never married families is needed. A larger sample size and nationwide sampling for participants is recommended.

Included in

Social Work Commons