Start Your Advocacy Engines!

7 Jul

DanielleBy: Danielle Smith, MSW, MA, LSW

NASW Ohio Chapter Services Coordinator

Step Forward;  Build Power;  Today, Tomorrow, Together!  These are the words that were yelled every morning at the Children’s Defense Fund YALT Training last year to get us excited for a day of leadership and advocacy training.   All of the participants would yell each of the words as loudly as they could to ignite their feelings of passion for advocacy for children’s issues.  Well, today, I want you to yell these words because its time for you to prepare to take action to protect Ohio’s most vulnerable populations. 

I went to the Ohio Budget Planning and Management Commission meeting today and was reminded for the umpteenth time that the State of Ohio is facing an unprecedented crisis next year when it is time to lay out the budget and close the gap.  I’m sure it is not a surprise to any of you that estimates of the gap between expenditures and revenue are around $8 billion dollars.  Everyone who provides social services or supports those who do are nervously awaiting January when the formal process begins to decide what will be cut and what will be saved.  During the FY10 budget many social workers weathered huge cuts to funding and many lost their jobs.  The blunt truth is that the FY12 budget is going to be worse. 

It is going to be bad but we do not have to take this laying down.  We can Step Forward and Build Power.  At the commission meeting today, a presentation was given on what other states (who operate on a different budget cycle) have done to close their budget gap for FY11.  The list was long, interesting, and sometimes scary.  (For instance, the state of Kentucky completely eliminated their drug courts!)  However, there were many viable solutions that would have little to no affect on our state’s vulnerable populations.    There were also many solutions presented that could even have positive effects such as revising sentencing lengths for non-violent offenses.  What we need to do as social workers is advocate for solutions that will do no further harm to the clients and communities that we serve and suggest alternative solutions that will close the budget gap with less of an impact.  Legislators need to hear our input on how cuts will hurt us as providers and the clients that we serve.  We need to gather information on the performance of our services now to prepare for next year because it may come down to all agencies demonstrating their effectiveness in order to receive funding.  We need to gather information now on our impact as social workers and when cuts are proposed we need to gather information on how that impact will cost us in the future.

NASW Ohio Chapter will be here to advocate for you but the power of the association comes from the power of its members.  We need every single member and social worker in the State to take action.  Please comment here or e-mail me at daniellesmith@naswoh.org with your feedback.

The budget cycle begins in January.  Let’s get ready.

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One Response to “Start Your Advocacy Engines!”

  1. Juliet Dorris-Williams, LISW July 8, 2010 at 10:59 pm #

    Thanks for this Danielle. It would be nice to hear more about some of those do no harm solutions you spoke of.

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