Moving Child Welfare Forward
Achieving Positive Outcomes for Children, Youth and Families
Class Nine: Advocacy in Child Welfare
- Role of advocacy in child welfare, including ethical considerations
- Successful advocacy techniques
- Advocacy within the child welfare organization: in casework,
in policy development and implementation
- External advocacy at community, state, and national levels
When this class is complete the student should be able to:
- Understand the role of advocacy in child welfare
- Use child welfare data to inform advocacy discussions
- Discuss advocacy within the child welfare organization in
casework and in policy development and implementation
- Employ some successful advocacy techniques for use in casework
- Develop some successful advocacy techniques for use at the
community, state and national levels.
- Attend a meeting of a public body, such as Board of Education,
State Court of Appeals, legislative committee, or meet with a
legislator or state official. Write a 3-5 page paper on the experience.
Discuss any social policy that relates to the current agenda
item or court case. How could an individual or group have influence
on the process you observed? Which building commitment to change
tactics could be useful?
- Go to five web sites belonging to an organization concerned
with the welfare of children and families that includes advocacy
as part of its mission. Write a one page fact sheet on each of
them, including name of organization, position on advocacy, methods
suggested, target of efforts.
- Imagine you are a child welfare caseworker. In a 3-5 page
paper describe the ways in which you might be required to advocate
for the children on your caseload. What are the pros and cons
of doing so? What issues should you consider before you undertake
the effort, including ethical considerations? What would you
do? Are you willing to put your employment in jeopardy?
Suggested In-class Activities
- Guest Speaker: Arrange for a child welfare supervisor or manager,
a state legislator, a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
or some other professional involved in advocating for children
to come and talk about what they do and how they help bring about
successful outcomes for children and families.
- Identify an issue related to child welfare that is under discussion
in the state legislature. Prepare to testify on this issue and,
if possible, actually deliver the testimony. Plan a campaign
to enlist community/state support for this issue and decide in
what ways this support could be demonstrated.
- Small group exercise – Child Welfare Today and Tomorrow
( This exercise is designed as a post-test to demonstrate learning;
compare to first class results). Ask each group to:
- Review the map of the current child welfare system and
other agencies that affect children, youth and families that
students put together during the first class and make a new
map based on the class’ current understanding of what
the child welfare system looks like. Discuss.
- Describe an ideal child welfare system, and compare to the
ideal system created during the first class.
- Discuss possible ways to improve the current system to make
it look more like the ideal model.
- Badeau, S.H., Perez, A.G., Lightbourne, W., Gray, E.S., & Gonzalez,
L.P.S. (2004) Five Commentaries: Looking to the Future. Children,
Families and Foster Care, 14, 175-188. Thoughtful discussion
of future trends in foster care.
- De Vita, C.J. and Mosher-William, R. (Editors) (2001). Who
Speaks for America ’s Children? The
Role of Child Advocates in Public Policy . Washington
, D.C. : Urban Institute Press, pp. 3-39; 105-137. A series
of essays on the ways advocacy is conducted and the way it
- Herbert, Margot P. and Mould, John W. ( March 1, 1992 ). The
Advocacy Role in Public Child Welfare. Child Welfare,
v71, n2, pp. 114 – 139. The role of advocacy in the job
of front line child welfare workers.
- Pizzigati, K. and Stuck, E., and Ness , N. (2002). A Child
Advocacy Primer: Experience and Advice from Service Providers,
Board leaders, and Consumers. Washington , D.C. : Child
Welfare League of America Inc. An examination of the role of
advocacy in service-based organizations.
Supplemental Reference Materials
- An Advocate’s Guide to the Media . Children’s
- Hayes, Bill and Degelman, Charles. (1994). Active
Citizenship Today Field Guide. A joint project of
Constitutional Rights Foundation: Los Angeles , CA and
Close Up Foundation: Alexandria , VA.
- Haynes, Karen S.
and Mickelson, James S. (2003). Affecting
Change: Social Workers in the Political Arena. 5 th
Ed. Boston , MA : Allyn and Bacon.
Steven and McNutt, John G. (2002). Advocacy, Activism,
and the Internet: Community Organization and Social Policy.
Chicago , IL : Lyceum, Books, Inc.
Bruce (2003). Becoming an Effective Policy Advocate.
Pacific Grove , CA : Brooks/Cole Publishing.
Pat and Petr, Christopher G. ( Jul 1997). Case Advocacy
in Child Welfare. Social Work, Vol. 42, Issue
4, p. 392.
- Pardeck, J.T. (2002). Children’s
Rights: Policy and Practice. Binghamton , NY : Haworth
- Simons, Janet and Jablonski, Donna M.(1990). An Advocate’s
Guide to Using Data. Children’s Defense Fund:
Washington , D.C.
- Thompson, Jo anne
J. (July 1994. Social Workers and Politics: Beyond the
Hatch Act. Social Work, Vol. 39, No. 4, pp.
- www.americanhumane.org The
website of the American Humane Association (AHA) an organization
dedicated to preventing cruelty, abuse, neglect, and exploitation
of children and animals.
- www.aphsa.org The
website of the American Public Human Services Assn. (APHSA),
an organization that educates members of Congress, the media,
and the broader public on what is happening in the states around
welfare, child welfare, health care reform, and other issues
involving families and the elderly.
- www.cwla.org The
website of the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), an organization
committed to promoting the well-being of children, youth, and
their families, and protecting every child from harm.
- /www.naswdc.org provides
information about the National Association of Social Workers