The Social Work Advocate in Politics
Social workers often have commitments to specific policies, laws, or funding of programs that are vital to the population they serve or an issue that they strongly support. Such commitments often lead social workers to become involved in political issues and the campaigns of specific candidates. Being a social worker, such campaign experiences, the outcomes of your efforts, and how effective you felt you were may affect your view of the political process and the likelihood of becoming involved in similar campaigns in the future.
Respond to colleague by offering a suggestion for how your colleague might gain political and/or lobbying experience for the political issue your colleagues described. Also, explain the steps you might take to incorporate policy advocacy in your practice based on insights, experiences, and/or opinions your colleagues described. Be sure your explanation takes the perspective of a social work professional with a responsibility to uphold professional ethics.
Support your response with specific references to the resources. Be sure to provide full APA citations for your references.
Response to Melinda
The premise of social work practice is to advocate for equal opportunities and resources for those that are oppressed, and “was founded in social change” (NASW). A social worker’s ability to act as a lobbyist or volunteer for a campaign can benefit the practice as a whole on the grounds that this is the way we can let our elected officials know the needs of our clients. What resources are lacking, who needs more of these resources? How can we make these available to them. As social workers, we are the official eyes and the ears of the oppressed and we are the mediators between our clients and the elected officials. As public officials, we will better be able to fight for the needs of our clients and have a better understanding of the system.
At my previous employment I worked for individuals whose primary diagnosis was intellectual and developmental disabilities. Many of these individuals also suffered from various forms of mental illnesses, substance abuse, etc. Mosaic encouraged not only upper management to participate in the political system, but also direct care staff, people-served, families of staff, and families of people-served to participate in the political system. If there was a bill coming to vote that dealt with mental health, intellectual disabilities, etc., whether it be nationally or locally, our Mosaic Allied Voices committee, will inform us of the upcoming vote, how that vote will affect our population, and who to contact. Additionally, they provided a script for people to follow if they did not feel comfortable on their own. There was a committee consisting of people-served that woud advocate for local changes, for instance, one of the individuals that utilized a wheelchair belonged to a bank that was not wheelchair accessible. He was a very sociable guy and wished to do his banking inside, but without the accessibility, he was not able to. The committee made a petition, brought it to the bank, and soon, they improved their accessibility.
Mosaic, as well as other similar agencies in the area was involved with Advocating for Change Day, where people with disabilities, mental illness, staff, and families were able to meet with our legislators, as well as learn how to better advocate for their wants and needs. Additionally, current legislator and campaigning legislators were also invited to our agency to see how it worked in addition to explaining why we were in need of maintaining and even increasing funding.
I have participated in the events stated above, and would love to a member of a lobby group that promoted the increase in funding towards mental health and those living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The funding in these areas are continuing to be cut, and due to these funding cuts, Mosaic was forced to close half of their homes that were community-based in the Des Moines area, and possibly more to come, because there is a push for these individuals to live amongst people in the community, similar to the foster care system. This system is wonderful for some people, however, is not the best option for everyone, especially for those that are physically aggressive or medically fragile. Additionally, we need to fight the healthcare system to fight against the insurance companies that don’t have to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions, etc.
NASW. (n.d.). Advocacy. Retrieved from naswdc.org/advocacy
NASWCA. (n.d). Social workers in California elected officials. Retrieved from naswca.org/?135