Social Change and Policy Advocacy in Human Services

Policy advocacy is one of the key roles of human services professionals. It differs from advocating for clients in that it looks to inform those who are responsible for policy formation, such as politicians and leaders of large-scale organizations. Whether at a national, regional, or state level, policy advocacy efforts will have broad implications for how and when human services are delivered. In today’s world of diminished resources, policy advocacy can be the difference between being funded and not having the funds needed to help your clients. By engaging in opportunities with programs and organizations that receive federal or state funding, you may further support your advocacy effects and gain greater access to necessary resources. By watching the media presentation in the Weekly Resources you will get a feeling about how community organizations can engage in advocacy.

Chahana Fisher has applied for a part-time position in this Community Center in the role of advocacy support person. In this role she is going to identify the needs for advocacy for the populations served by the Center and draft information that will be used in advocacy for the Community Center. For this Discussion, review Chapter 7, “Visit The New Harbor Community” in the Weekly Resources. Then explore the Community Center in the Weekly Resources and read the description of the Community Center and the people who work there currently.

With these thoughts in mind:

By Day 4

Post a brief description of what you see as possible advocacy needs for this Community Center. Examples may be the needs for youth programming, immigrant language skills support, or recreational facilities for latchkey children after school. Explain how this Community Center could be involved in policy advocacy. Then, from the perspective of the community center and one organization from your area of interest, explain one benefit and one limitation of engaging in policy advocacy. Be specific and provide examples.

Reid Mandell, B., & Schram, B. (2012). An introduction to human services: Policy and practice (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

· Chapter 13, “Organizing and Changing Systems” (pp. 469–506)

This chapter focuses on how to organize and change systems. The authors also examine challenges for human services professionals trying to influence change.

· Chapter 14, “Understanding Legal Issues” (pp. 507–538)

In this chapter, the authors examine legal issues that are common for workers in the helping professions. They also explain how to help clients with their legal rights.

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