By Christina Cerruti, MSW student
“Voting is an act of power and form of empowerment,” Tanya Rhodes Smith, MSW, Director of the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work at the University of Connecticut, told a group of more than 75 social workers during a Voter Engagement Teach-in held on Capitol Hill in June.
Smith was one of four panelists who shared their views on why voting matters at all levels of social work practice. The teach-in was a pre-conference event during the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) 2018 National Conference held June 20th – 23rd.
A scholarship from the University at Buffalo School of Social Work (UBSSW) allowed me to attend the annual 3½ day event, which featured keynote speakers, panel presentations, plenary and breakout sessions, and many opportunities to network and learn from the more than 2,000 social workers.
Christina Cerruti at #NASW18. Photo: from author
This year’s theme, “Shaping Tomorrow Together,” highlighted the critical role of unity in addressing many current social and political issues in the U.S. Although a number of different issues and topics within the field of social work were discussed, the importance of voting and voter engagement were recurring themes throughout the conference.
Photo courtesy Theresa Thompson through Creative Commons License CC BY 2.0
Important questions for these times. Join the discussion!
via #MacroSW chat for 7/12/2018 at 9 pm Eastern: Social work leadership in the face of ethical policy conflicts.
When Chief of Staff John Kelly was interviewed by NPR last year, the Zero Tolerance policy was referenced: “They’ll be put into foster care….or something”. The quote went viral.
As social workers, we may detect a few layers of implied meaning in this statement. First: In this instance, social work practice is presumed to function as a mere cog to further larger policy goals. Second: those policy goals run counter to ethical practice. Third: that these policy goals may not be deeply considered (the “or something” in this statement). Foster care is a part of a complex system of child and family support, not an ends to a means (in this case, attempt to deter immigration by breaking families apart).