Social Work Advocacy: The State Budget
by Influencing Social Policy
Social workers spend a lot of time practicing within the limitations of the money allotted for their programs. It stands to reason that they should be major voices in deciding how much money their programs receive. Here’s how they can.

Social workers often don’t like to talk about money—they understandably just want to show up and help their clients. Many are the social workers who are “intimidated by numbers,” like one of the students in this video. Yet it is money that allows the social worker to help their clients. It’s money that makes programs possible. Too few social workers are involved in the allocation of funds when it comes to social services.

The fifth video in the Policy Affects Practice series takes the social work student step-by-step through a state budget process. With different voices along the way to calm the student’s fears, the viewer will learn what a budget is and see how it reflects state policy. Building on this, the social work student will learn the process of how a budget is finalized. The four main stages in the development of a budget are:

1. Preparation by agencies
2. Establishment by the governor
3. Legislative action on the budget
4. Governor’s review & budget implementation

Each stage is demystified and discussed at length and the possibilities for the social workers’ involvement are illustrated.

In an uncomplicated and painless manner the video shows how social workers can influence the state budget and describes six key skills social workers need to develop in order to become effective advocates.

In Depth
Many social work students are understandably overwhelmed when thinking about becoming a public face for social policy. Fears of not knowing enough, not understanding the political systems, and the idea that their primary role is working with clients has often meant that social workers’ voices are not heard when laws and policies are written. Policy Affects Practice is a six-part series that demystifies the legislative process and the many ways social workers can engage with it.

From a student’s perspective, the videos explore budgets, the legislative process, and the importance of coalitions.

After watching this series you’ll be able to:

  • Describe how a budget is formed.
  • Understand the legislative process and describe the steps for enacting legislation.
  • Understand the importance of building coalitions with other social workers and learn how to do this effectively.
  • Explain how direct practice experience can be an effective tool when advocating on the macro level.
  • Illustrate the ethical dimensions of lobbying Congress for social workers using the National Association of Social Worker’s Code of Ethics.

Length of video: 00:20:49

English subtitles available

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-490-8

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-490-1

ISP is the only national membership organization dedicated exclusively to promoting social work’s involvement in policy and policy practice. Now a 501(c)3, it was created in 1997—in the wake of welfare reform–to address concerns about devolution. Comprised of social work educators, students, and practitioners, its expanded mission seeks to increase social work efficacy in influencing policy at all levels of government by educating students in policy and policy practice, and engaging students and faculty in the policy-making and political processes.

Visit their website for more information.
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