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Advocacy - A Ripple Effect

An interview with Rob Lucio, by Shercee Barrett, SSWAA Intern

Robert Lucio is a well-established social work advocate and has dedicated over fifteen years working primarily with teen parents and soon after moved to higher education doing research within school social work. Mr. Lucio is now serving on the Legislative Chair for SSWAA and is on the Board of Directors as the Standards & Practice Representative. Throughout his numerous involvements, Mr. Lucio continues to support school social workers in order to better the education system.

On June 29th and 30th, the School Social Work Association of America is hosting its 23rd National School Social Work Conference - Virtual Edition. This conference boasts an agenda full of powerful speakers on topics related to School Social Work service delivery in light of COVID-19. In the following interview, Mr. Lucio shares his insight of his journey as a school social worker and how his co-presenters, Emilie Souhrada (Iowa) and Mary Stevens-Krogh (Oregon), will be discussing the role that school social workers play in advocacy in their session titled, Advocacy in Action: Building our Identity and Agency to Impact Change.

Can you give us a summary of your presentation for the virtual conference?

Our objectives are for participants to:

· Articulate their role as a school social worker and the impact of school social work services on student success;

· Identify action steps within the 3 tiers of school social work advocacy;

· Define the components of the art and the science of advocacy; and

· Create a personal advocacy action plan.

What will be 2-3 "take-aways" that individuals attending your session can expect?

Our presentation highlights the skills and steps needed to begin making change happen. It is important for school social workers to identify where they are at (current place), where they want to be (change they want to happen), and how to get there (advocacy actions). We all have roles to play when it comes to advocacy, from individual advocacy to macro level practice, at our local districts all the way to national. It does not matter where you are on the spectrum as long as you are. Taking time to evaluate ourselves and where we best fit (based on our time, skills, resources) to be part of working toward addressing the issues critical for SSW. After this presentation we hope that school social workers can identify the issue(s) they want to address and begin to develop concrete action steps to begin addressing change.

How does this topic relate to on-going work that SSWAA is doing?

The SSWAA Legislative Committee is focused on advocating for the needs of school social workers. While this is an ongoing issue to advocate for social work services (more services, specific services, more social workers, etc), we must also advocate for our role in helping students transition back to school in the fall. This includes making sure all members of our communities (teachers, administrators, students, parents) have the help and support they need to be successful. We anticipate higher levels of need, increased mental health concerns, issues related to the pandemic, and the application of trauma informed services. SSWAA and the Legislative Committee are continually working at both the national level and with states to make sure school social workers have the resources needed to help their communities.

What motivates you to continue to work in this field?

As school social workers, we all have an obligation to address social injustice no matter where we find it. This can be in direct services, but also in helping change the systems where these injustices exist. there fighting! Advocacy may seem at first glance like a daunting road, but together we can begin to make systemic changes.

What advice would you give individuals coming into the social work field?

Get involved with your national (SSWAA) and state associations. We cannot do this alone, but together we can make a difference!

To hear more on this topic and to enhance your professional advocacy impact, consider registering for the SSWAA Virtual Conference:

Professionals like Robert Lucio provide a foundation for the growth of our communities and with this understanding that we all share our commitment to school social work. We here at SSWAA commend Mr. Lucio and his team for the amazing work they do every day as they continue to work hard to advocate and build awareness of the importance issues in schools.

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