August 13, 2020

SIU social work students will learn more about public policy thanks to a national grant

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Social work students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will learn more about the importance of policies, legislation and regulations thanks to a grant that will help them better understand rural policy issues.

Sarah Buila, associate professor of social work and graduate program director, and Paul Brinker, graduate field coordinator, recently received a grant from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) for training workshops for both undergraduate and graduate students. The nearly $10,000 grant will also go toward a speaker series and allow students to participate in Illinois Advocacy Day.

“This grant helps our programs prepare our students to be true to the profession of social work and engage in policy practice - that is social work practice that aims to improve policies that impact our most vulnerable clients,” Buila said. “Our hope is that some students will be inspired to choose careers in policy development and advocacy.”

Funding is part of a national initiative

The funding originated from the New York Community Trust (NYCT) as part of the organization’s Policy Practice in Field Education Initiative.

The initiative’s goal is providing support for social work programs in developing policy-focused field education and community engagement projects to give undergraduate and graduate social work students opportunities to increase their policy skill sets.  

“These grants make it possible for future social workers to learn the importance of policies, legislation, and regulation that advance social justice goals,” Darla Spence Coffey, CSWE President and CEO, said. The program allows “CSWE and member programs to create opportunities for policy-focused field education and community engagement projects.”

Helping Salukis help others
Brinker said the CSWE Policy grant is a collaborative endeavor between social work and the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute “that will serve to increase our ability to strengthen students’ knowledge and understanding of public policy. PSPPI expert staff will engage our BSW and MSW policy classes during fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters.”