Social workers act as advocates representing communities and individuals. They fight for their rights, especially access to basic healthcare, food, and housing. Advocacy by social workers comprises large-scale activities that benefit a whole community and small-scale actions that can impact a single person. Through advocacy groups, an individual can apply for help to purchase food through a nutritional program, for example. The groups can also fight to protect the interests of tens of millions through political action or policy development.
Social workers operate under the guidance of a code of ethics that provides the engagement standard. It dictates the political and social action to guarantee equal access to resources for everybody. The principle of ethics also ensures that people get opportunities, services, and employment, among other basic needs.
Advocacy is a simple task defined as protecting an issue or idea on behalf of someone or a group. If you are a social worker, your role as an advocate will be representing clients and communities in various ways.
Issues may be based on policy or not. You can become a refined advocate by pursuing a top online MSW program that trains you on human needs. The course allows you to study human behavior and understand individual and collective needs. By lending your expertise to clients, they will gain the confidence and skills to advocate for their issues. Social workers empower clients to navigate social services, educational, healthcare, and legal systems.
Regarding policy advocacy, social workers agitate for changes to established frameworks that impact communities. They represent people from marginalized groups who are underrepresented by voicing their concerns and policies that directly affect them. Advocacy actions include speaking up against policies that prevent access to programs for these communities, reduce funding for resources, or disenfranchise such individuals. Social workers can also play the role of the media by writing and publishing policy briefs that enlighten the public and lawmakers on the plight of the community members. These efforts are designed to generate funding and protection for disadvantaged groups.
Another critical role of social workers is to push for better systems regarding behavioral health resources. The most prevalent issue is substance abuse, where social workers provide counseling. Their role may also extend to housing matters, where they represent tenants in cases where landlords raise rent unfairly. As a matter of policy, social workers will determine whether local laws on rental rates are favorable for the communities.
In areas such as urban centers with homeless individuals, social workers can stand up against excessive use of force by police. They have played a significant role in designing policies that regulate the extent to which police can act in public places. Remember, policy advocacy does not just happen at the systemic level. You can change the meeting time for a community support group and allocate it to the weekend so that as many individuals can attend. This shift is also regarded as policy advocacy.