USF School of Social Work takes their Knowledge and Skills to the State Capitol
About 60 University of South Florida BSW and MSW students were part of the 900 social work students statewide who participated in the National Association of Social Workers - Florida Chapter 2016 Legislative Education and Advocacy Day in Tallahassee. Most of the students rode together on a school-sponsored bus to the State Capitol, along with BSW Program Chair Lori Rogovin, and stayed overnight in a Tallahassee motel. Others carpooled and met the group for the first day's advocacy training session and the second day's rally and legislative visits. The officers of the Social Work Society provided leadership for the event including providing newly designed T-shirts for participants, arranging for group meals, and helping Professor Rogovin with answering questions and providing advocacy training.
The State Capitol educational activity provides a unique opportunity for social work students to apply macro practice skills learned in the classroom to the real life macro environment of the state legislature and executive branch of government. By learning from policy experts about state legislative and budget issues that affect social workers and the clients they serve, and having an opportunity to educate elected officials about these issues, students gain confidence and competence in using these vital social work skills. Students met with a variety of senators, representatives and legislative assistants about child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, and veteran's bills, and also attended committee meetings and watched deliberations on bills from the galleries of the State Senate and House. Many students had the opportunity to sit in on oral arguments before the Florida Supreme Court regarding the legality of death penalty sentences in the state. In fact, a front page article in the Tampa Bay Times on February 3rd explained one of the cases the students were able to observe. One USF student testified on a bill in one of the committees and another student was able to participate in key meetings with legislators regarding a veteran's program funding issue.