WMKY

Social work program lobbies at state capitol

Mar 10, 2020

Credit Morehead State University

Students in Morehead State's Social Work program took their concerns to Frankfort to rally for higher education funding and share their views with lawmakers.  

More than 100 students from MSU's Social Work program traveled to the state capitol Tuesday, Feb. 25, for Social Work Lobby Day. Students from MSU's main and extended campus locations attended the event, which is organized each March in recognition of Social Work Month by the Kentucky chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. The students attended advocacy workshops and networked with other social work students from campuses across the state. 

"Social Work Lobby Day is an opportunity for MSU students to experience and learn about affecting change and the social work profession’s commitment to social justice,” said MSU Social Work Program Coordinator Becky Davison.  “One of the most unique aspects of social work is its commitment to system-level change.  All social workers are ethically bound to work towards social justice. This means that social workers must advocate for policies that will affect change at the macro-level.  In order to do this, social workers must use relationship-building skills along with knowledge of policy making to advocate for people whose voices are often left unheard.”

On Thursday, Feb. 20, senior Jimmy Salyers of Paintsville testified before the House Health and Family Services Committee to voice his opposition to House Bill 1 which seeks to add restrictions to how recipients can spend public assistance and SNAP benefits.  

"Working in the substance use treatment field for the last four years has taught me one thing: a closed mouth does not get fed," Salyers said. "Unfortunately, the population I have been serving for the last four years don't always have the means to travel to Frankfort to have their voices heard, nor do they understand the power their voice can have. I knew that I was given a chance to speak on behalf of their best interest. I was not going to pass that up." 

Salyers said he was able to testify before the committee as part of his practicum at the Kentucky Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. He said the organization makes advocacy a priority. 

"This bill was creating a lot of barriers to public assistance for populations such as drug felons and low-income families. This is something that I am obviously passionate about, so I agreed and gave them my contact information. Before being placed into a macro field practicum, I would have never imagined being given such an honor." 

In addition to lobbying efforts, the program had its accreditation reaffirmed by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) on Monday, March 9. The accreditation is valid for eight years. 

MSU's Social Work program prepares students for careers by offering intense instruction and real-world experience through field education, where students can apply what they've learned in the classroom in a professional setting.  

For more information about social work programs at MSU, visit http://www.moreheadstate.edu/study/socialwork, email Program Coordinator Becky Davison at r.davison@moreheadstate.edu or call 606-783-2446.