Elaine Chavez Swain is a first generation Filipina-American, born and raised in New York City. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1995 and a Masters Degree in Social Work in 1999 from the University of South Carolina. After 26 years of professional experience, Elaine achieved a Doctorate in Social Work from Capella University.
As a licensed social worker, she worked in many areas of social work including foster care, hospitals, and psychiatric care. The majority of her experience is in school social work. Her journey in school social work started in Manhattan with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) at a specialized alternative school for adolescents recently released from state juvenile prisons and Rykers Island. The focus of her job was to help faculty and students establish a trauma informed restorative climate using Restorative Practices, an evidence-based intervention. She received the District 79 Student Services Award of Excellence in May 2005. This job was the love of her professional life!
In 2010, her husband accepted a position at Isle of Palms Police Department in Charleston, South Carolina and the family left city life. She started with Berkeley County School District as a School Social Worker in 2011 quickly learning the vast differences between an urban school system and a rural one. After two years, she was promoted and served as the Director of Student and Family Support at Berkeley County School District (BCSD). While at BCSD, she educated the School Board and District on the value of school social work and expanded the school social work program from four social workers to fifteen on staff. She collaborated with key stakeholder agencies to initiate school-based programs empowering social emotional learning and supporting the mental health of students, families, school staff, and communities.
She is a certified Restorative Practices Trainer and works with schools and organizations to create trauma informed policies and protocols. Removing barriers to people’s success and negotiating systems drives her love of the profession.