List the four different ways that social workers can engage in policy practice roles.

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Social workers can engage in policy practice by coalition-building, lobbying, campaigning, or running for office.

Essentially, policy is any law or rule that governs a state (country, city, etc.) or organization. Below, you can see how social workers can engage with policy in these four main ways.

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Social workers can engage in policy practice by coalition-building, lobbying, campaigning, or running for office.

Essentially, policy is any law or rule that governs a state (country, city, etc.) or organization. Below, you can see how social workers can engage with policy in these four main ways.

When lobbying, social workers are directly advocating for a policy or policy change to policymakers. For example, social workers may send a representative to discuss welfare changes with a member of Congress.

Campaigning is similar, except the audience will likely change. For example, a campaign will likely focus more on reaching an average citizen or voter to build support rather than going directly to the policymaker.

Coalition-building can be used to support either of these efforts. When building a coalition, social workers reach out to partner with other individuals and organizations to build greater power towards social change.

Finally, social workers can cut out the middle man entirely and run for office themselves. This puts a social worker directly in the seat of policymaker.

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Social workers have many ways in which to influence public policy. Social workers, like all American citizens, have access to their representatives in government, and they can write letters to the editor in order to influence public opinion. They can also give money and their time to the campaigns of politicians whose views are in line with theirs.

In some cases, social workers can also testify before Congress when they are needed to give an expert's view on an issue. This can be quite influential, as it allows Congress to get the views of someone who is active in the field of social work. Social workers can also become lobbyists or join organizations which are in line with their views. Sometimes social workers may feel as though the best way that they can make a difference is to run for office themselves. When a social worker does this, they make their cause the focal point of the election; if elected, this can be a great way to enact change on behalf of the people that the social worker was trying to help.

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Four policy practice roles you might take on include testifying in court, lobbying, campaigning, or running for office.

Policy can be defined as making things happen.  While you might think of social work as only advocacy, social workers can also engage in policy practice, which is essentially the practice of advocating for change on a larger level.  Policy practice means proposing and working for social change.  It might mean lobbying for new laws, or local policies, because as a social worker you are in a unique position with feet on the ground to see how laws affect the people.  In other words, you can fight for social justice.  Sometimes advocacy means moving beyond helping an individual.  It can mean helping an entire group of people at once, by working for change in the form of new law.  Laws can be made at the local, state, and federal level.  If you run for office, you might even find yourself writing legislation someday.

As a social worker, you will find that you will get to see the same problems over and over again.  You will start to see that these problems are systemic, and not unique to the individual.  You will wonder what society can do to stop these problems.  As you get older, you might even see the children, or the grandchildren, of people you have helped come through the system.  Rather than get jaded and wonder where it will end, you can go beyond your role as an advocacy for one, and become an advocate for many.  You can become a lobbyist and lobby the politicians for new laws to help those you work with.  You can also campaign for laws or political candidates you think can help.  Finally, you might even run for office yourself, to make the biggest difference possible.

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