Discussion: Role of Social Workers

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Role of Social Workers

Purpose

To discuss and explore the role of social workers in the local, state, and federal legislative processes.

Instructions

Based on the class readings and the documentaries:

Explain what you believe the role of a social worker is in legislative process.

Do social workers have more than one role?

Do you believe there were missed opportunities for legislative and advocacy interventions by social workers? Why or why not and which?

***Initial substantive post of approximately 300-350 words ***

In your peer responses, select two different responses from two of your peers. Make sure to reference the class readings and documentary. Positive feedback

***Your substantive responses of approximately 100-200 words to at least two peers***

**Required Readings**

I will attach the journals and the textbook presentation file

Textbook Readings

Jansson, B. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning

Chapters 1-2

Journal Articles

Weiss-Gal, I. (2013). Policy practice in practice: The input of social workers in the legislative committees. Social Work, 58(1), pp. 304-313.

Patti, R., & Dear, R. (1975). Legislative advocacy: One path to social change. Social Work,20(2), pp. 108-114

Required Resources

Video

PBS Series: MetroFocus Special – Trailer Parks: Living In Poverty –

https://www.pbs.org/video/metrofocus-metrofocus-special-trailer-parks-living-poverty/

PBS Series: NewsNight- Immigration in Central Florida –

https://www.pbs.org/video/immigration-in-central-florida-jiai2b/

Textbook Presentation File(s)

What is social policy

Peer 1 Discussion:

When considering the role of a social worker in the legislative process, it is first important to understand that effective policies that promote social and economic justice can only be enacted by legislators that have a deep understanding of the issues that the policy is attempting to address (Jansson, 2018). The policy decisions being made in federal and state legislatures will not only affect the basic life conditions of our clients, but also have a decisive influence on the vital interests and future prospects of social work (Patti, & Dear, 1975). Therefore, an important role for social workers is their ability to bring a vital human element to a potential law or policy by taking what they witness through their direct work with clients and bring it to the attention of legislators. Involvement with the legislative process is an important way for workers to not only contribute to policies that improve the well-being of individuals through social and economic justice, but also provides opportunities to build self-determination for clients (Weiss-Gal, 2013) . A social workers role is also to challenge, facilitate and enrich policy by influencing how policymakers perceive problems and their causes, and represent disempowered populations. They also have an opportunity to not only advocate for policies, they can also analyze and formulate them in order to help advance the social well-being of all citizens (Weiss-Gal, 2013).

Social workers have various opportunities to affect the legislative process, rather than one singular role. Along with directly influencing policy, workers can promote positive advocacy through political work. Coalition-building, campaign work, and creating propositions to be placed on ballots are all important areas in which social workers can become involved on the macro level of the legislative system. Equally important is the workers role in the ability to convince the public of the need for the initiation of new policies and laws, which will help to influence legislative action (Jansson, 2018).

Often, providing services to clients and operating programs within a community are helpful, but also not enough to support overall sustainable improvement. Missed opportunities for legislative advocacy occurs when social workers become fearful of contacting legislators for fear of damaging relationships, or become limited in their advocating ability by the agencies that they work for. They may also become disheartened by election results, and therefore waiver in their commitment to advocacy. It is important for workers to understand that legislative advocacy is crucial to giving a voice to people and causes that are often neglected.

Jansson, B. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice

(8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Patti, R., & Dear, R. (1975). Legislative advocacy: One path to social change. Social Work,

20(2), pp. 108-114.

Weiss-Gal, I. (2013). Policy practice in practice: The input of social workers in the legislative

committees. Social Work, 58(4), pp. 304-313.

Peer 2 Discussion:

The role of a social worker in the legislative process is to influence policymakers to change policies that seek to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully (NASW, 2017).

There are many ways social workers can assist alongside with legislators. One way is through policy practice for social workers to become a part of the policy formulation process as well as through policy advocates who seek to help powerless groups improve their lot and to decrease economic inequality (Jansson, 2018). Social workers can offer firsthand knowledge about specific policies and issues that affect their constituents (clients), and the impacts of social problems and the populations that experience them, as well as with an understanding of the details and limitations of existing policies and the implications of policies under consideration (Weiss-Gal, 2013).

Social workers wear many hats, such as direct service (clinical, mental health, case management), community, and administrative practice. Social workers working in these fields have firsthand knowledge of social and environmental issues their clients face. Jansson (2018) states that “Social workers can engage in policy advocacy outside their working hours by helping advocacy groups, working with their professional association, or participating in political campaigns. They can work to educate the public about important issues in their communities by participating in forums, writing letters to the editor or op-ed pieces, or working with the mass media to disseminate information” (p. 20). The NASW (2017), states that social workers should promote conditions that encourage respect for cultural and social diversity within the United States and globally. Social workers should advocate for programs and policies that safeguard the rights of and confirm equity and social justice for all people (Social and Political Action, Para. 6.04).

In my opinion, I feel there may have been missed opportunities. There may be social workers that may feel they do not the experience or time to advocate for their clients in a political setting. Many social workers that work in direct services may have over 20 or more clients a week. With that, it includes writing assessments, treatment plans, case management, keeping up with documentation, and discharge planning. It can become overwhelming for one person and time may be a variable when it comes to policy and advocacy.

Reference

Jansson, B. S. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

National Association of Social Workers. (2017). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. National Association of Social Workers.

Patti, R., & Dear, R. (1975). Legislative advocacy: One path to social change. Social Work, 20(2), pp. 108-114.

Weiss-Gal, I. (2013). Policy practice in practice: The input of social workers in the legislative committees. Social Work, 58(4), pp. 304-313.


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