Why do you think that coalitions are good for social workers in the organizations such as the Child Protection Roundtable and the Juvenile Justice Roundtable?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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From a general frame of reference, I think that roundtables are a process that emerge into the work that a coalition does.  The roundtable is an approach that helps to gauge the breadth and depth of a problem.  The language behind the formation of the Child Protection Roundtable speaks to this, as it seeks to "brings together statewide research experts, advocates, and program providers from 40 organizations with child protection expertise."  This same approach can be seen in the Juvenile Justice Roundtable as it is a "variety of groups come together each month to advance a vision of promoting public safety by helping troubled youth succeed."  The roundtable approach embraces a collection of voices which advocate that a particular issue necessitates a course of action. Roundtables are the first step in convincing people that there is a social wrong that must be redressed.

For the social worker, the roundtable is a good starting point to collect information and share insights.  However, the roundtable seeks to raise awareness as to the nature of a problem, something that the social worker already knows.  The social worker sees the results of the discussions that the roundtables foster.  The social worker can gain much from the work of the roundtable.  However, in terms of advocating for long lasting solutions to the problems that are faced by their clients, a social worker would gain more from a coalition.  The concept of a coalition is to unify voice over a particular cause and seek to develop means to substantively redress it.  For example, a social worker who is working with at- risk youth would already concur with the issues put forth by the Juvenile Justice Roundtable.  They would already conceded that school disciplinary measures need to be more proportionate or that the age of offenders needs to be raised.  

The roundtable identifies what the social worker already knows. It is from this point that participating in a coalition would enable the social worker to see some work done towards accomplishing these ends.  Participation in the Coalition on Human Needs, for example, would see to this, as one of the expressed purposes of the coalition is to " forge consensus positions, and develop and implement collaborative strategies on public policy issues."  For the social worker who is seeking ways to positively impact in a substantive manner the lives of their clients, it is essential that participation in a coalition is sought.  A coalition materializes the work from the roundtable.  In this light, one can see that the coalition is the next step from a roundtable.  It is a realm that the social worker can pursue in the hopes of creating lasting, positive change in the lives of the people they serve.

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