Reflections on Social Policy and Advocacy

Sharing your experiences of social policy practice and social advocacy with others is important because it often encourages them to respond to their interests and concerns and increases the likelihood that they may also become involved. You will also be able to share your strategies, successes, mistakes, lessons learned, and skills developed. As you share these experiences with your colleagues, they will also share theirs, and you will learn from each other.


For this Discussion, consider the topics of the course by reflecting on the experiences of your colleagues. Choose three posts from three different colleagues in the previous discussion (Discussion 3), and reflect on:

  • The insights you gained from your colleagues
  • How your colleagues’ experiences/opinions affected your own
  • The varied perceptions of social work professionals and how they reflect professional ethics




During my time in undergrad, I attended a Jesuit University (The University of Scranton). During this time, I saw a lot of campaigning in the city of Scranton. Within the city, there was a campaign to erect a church that would be a LGBT friendly community church. This idea greatly frustrating some other members of the community, and there were many petitions to stop this church from opening. For many individuals, this church would be a safe haven for individuals of the community. As a part of the LGBT Club at the University, we help to also collect signatures to keep this church, as well as peaceful protest where we would make signs and walk around spreading the message.


Although I’m not sure, I can only imagine there were many social workers or civil servants also petitioning for the church to open. To a group of students, such as ourselves, a powerful figure in the community, or even a social worker who was active in the community, could have helped to motivate us to continue working, as this presence could have a positive effect. By showing that you will help and support your clients, as well as those who are working towards this positive social change, you can help boost a person’s dignity and self worth, both of which we as social workers (NASW Code of Ethics) must always fight to keep.


Although many of my fellow students did support the new church, there were plenty that did not support the new church, and thus had a negative impact on my own experiences. There were also teachers who (although were not public about not supporting the church) would often make back handed comments that would deter many students from continuing to protest or petition. The mind is a powerful thing, as well as the social world. When other students began to see high powers other than themselves, as we well as other students not supporting the church, they soon followed in an effort to not be shamed. This is why it is important for social workers, especially those of higher status, prestige or even those well known in the community to continue to help to advocate on behalf of their clients for policy change.



NASW. (2015). Code of ethics of the national association of social workers. Retrieved from



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Advocates for Youth (2008) states:

More than 90 percent of adults support abstinence being included as a topic in sexuality education for high school students. However, 70 percent of American adults oppose provision of federal law that allocates over half a billion dollars for abstinence-only-until-marriage education but prohibits use of the funds for information on contraception for the prevention of disease and unintended pregnancy (p. 1).

Teen pregnancy has decreased drastically over the years; however, “the United States continues to have the highest teen birth rate among all industrialized nations and a higher teen birth rate than over 50 developing nations” (Advocates for Youth, 2008). According to Popple and Leighninger (2016), Lobbying is simply the purposive, goal directed, planned process of attempting to influence the positon of a decision maker, usually an elected one (p. 280). “Social workers have been involved in lobbying in many ways for many years” (Popple and Leighninger, p. 281).

Lobbying for contraception to be included in federal funding is vital. “There are a number of ways in which social workers can provide documentation to influence the policy making process. One is giving testimony. Social workers can provide documentation based on their practice experience, which can lead to particularly persuasive testimony” Popple and Leighninger, p. 279).



Advocates for Youth. (2008). Teen Pregnancy: The Case for Prevention. Retrieved from

Popple, P. R. & Leighninger, L. (2015). The policy-based profession: An introduction to social welfare policy analysis for social workers. (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

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Lobbying and campaigning for a cause is a way social workers can help influence the decisions of policy makers. “Supplying documentation, testifying, acting as an expert witness” (Plummer, 2015) are ways social workers can use lobbying in their practice. Social workers can be jist as powerful and effective as elected officials in some cases however social workers may have to work harder to seek simple results. Persistance, being persuasive, and determined are some of the traits social workers will need to reach the change they seek. They will be turned away and not given the responses as some elected officials because a certain level of respect comes with their titles. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be as effective. And I will say my colleagues experiences and opinions have influenced my experience in this course. They have pushed me to dig deeper and think harder and I really appreciate the effort given. Thanks everyone.

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Laureate Education (Producer). (2013). Sessions: Johnson family (Episode 4 of 42) [Video file]. Retrieved from

Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. M. (Eds.). (2014). Social work case studies: Foundation year. Baltimore: MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing. [Vital Source e-reader].

  • “Working With Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Trauma: The Case of Rita” (pp. 81–83)

Plummer, S. -B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. (Eds.). (2014). Sessions: Case histories. Baltimore: MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing. [Vital Source e-reader].

  • Part 1, “The Johnson Family” (pp. 11–13)