“School social workers facilitate the educational and individual potential of students by providing services that promote school improvement. School social workers collaborate and consult with parents, school administrators, faculty and the community in the identification of family and student concerns to provide supportive services. In addition, they provide appropriate interventions and services that assist students and families at risk for educational failure” ( Reference: School Social Workers of Georgia Practice Manual).

The focus of the Lumpkin County School social worker (SSW) is to find effective ways to resolve problems, which may significantly interfere with a student’s academic achievement or adjustment. The SSW assists with communication between the school and the home and encourages parents to assume an active role in their child’s education. By utilizing the student’s home, school, and community the school social worker can expand helping efforts so that students are successfully prepared for their educational experience and the future.

Reasons student are often referred to the SSW include, but are not limited to:

  • Chronic attendance problems

  • Lack of academic progress

  • Potential dropout

  • School and personal adjustment problems

  • Need for community resources (economic assistance, crisis intervention, mental health issues, physical health concerns)

In 2011, Lumpkin County Schools was recently recognized as a Partner in Prevention with Darkness to Light. We are the first school system in Georgia, and one of a few in the country, to train 100% of all staff in the Stewards of Children Sexual Abuse Prevention Training. We are proud of this accomplishment and hope other school systems will follow suit in training staff and protecting children.


Regular school attendance is an important factor in determining a student’s success in school. Frequent absences can cause students to miss important classroom instruction, fall behind in class work, and earn lower grades. This can lead to stress, frustration, and a negative attitude toward school. Parents play an important role in school attendance and should make sure their child attends school regularly. Parents are also encouraged to make sure the student is at school on time and allow him or her to complete the entire day.

If parents or guardians experience problems in getting their children to attend school regularly, they should be in contact with school staff members, including the guidance counselor, principal, and/or school social worker. All are willing to work with the family to provide support and assistance to promote regular school attendance.

The SSW promotes regular school attendance and is involved in all phases of truancy reduction including, but not limited to:

  • Consultation with school staff

  • Student attendance referral

  • Parent/guardian contact

  • Attendance Support Team (AST) meetings

  • Referrals to community agencies

  • Filing of truancy charges

  • Attending truancy court hearings

  • Staffing and coordinating with community agencies

  • Chairing Attendance Protocol Committee


Joni McElwaney
School Social Worker/ Homeless Liaison

For the past 9 years I've had the honor of serving our students and their families in Lumpkin County as our school system social worker and homeless liaison. I have over 14 years of experience in the Social Work field and have a heart to serve others. My goal is to provide direct and indirect supports that equip students to enter the classroom ready to learn.

Many family stressors impact our students and I want to ensure that resources and services are provided to students and families to help them be successful!

I look forward to another great year-GO INDIANS!

University of Georgia 2007-2008 Master of Social Work
University of Georgia 2004-2007 Bachelor of Social Work

2008-present Lumpkin County Schools-School Social Worker/Homeless Liaison
2007-2008 Hospice of Northeast Georgia Bereavement Services Graduate Intern
2006-2007 Hall County Drug Court Undergraduate Intern
2003-2007 Legacy Link Inc-Area Agency on Aging-Case Manager
2001-2003 Department of Family and Children Services Case Manager-Habersham County