James Madison University

Social Work Field Students Attend Annual Lobby Day

Twenty-six BSW students from Dr. Laura Trull’s social policy course participated in the NASW Virginia Chapter's annual Student Lobby Day in Richmond on Thursday February 11, 2016.  They joined BSW and MSW students from across the state to learn about current policy initiatives as well as have the opportunity to meet with legislators to advocate for bills they have researched in class.  Students were welcomed by NASW Virginia Chapter Executive Director Deb Riggs, and also heard from Dr. Angela Henderson, the Executive Director for the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work & Policy.  Jodi Manz, policy advisor to Secretary Hazel from the Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, also provided a legislative overview of issues of interest to social workers in the current session.  

After the presentation, each of the twenty-six students met with their elected officials or the patrons of bills they are following in the 2016 General Assembly session, allowing them to put their policy practice skills being developed in class to work.  The bills followed by students included a wide array of health and social services issues including the expansion of foster care for vulnerable youth to age 21, as well as legislation involving refugee resettlement and mental health services.   Student in SOWK 335 Social Policy participate in an advocacy day experience – in spring semester, they visit the Virginia legislature in Richmond and in fall, the United States Congress in Washington, DC.  Social work students are expected to gain understanding of how public policy impacts the lives of vulnerable clients as well as to build skills to advocate for policy change.