The Value of Social Workers in the Legislature

Posted by Brittany Reyes

This week will mark a month since the GCSW interns started our placements for the 84th legislature. While the month has taken a slow start, there’s been quick adjusting for most of us. Getting used to living in Austin, amidst a school year, has been overwhelming. However, the more complicated adjusting that we have endured is being social work students amongst the many students and professionals with a law, political science or public policy backgrounds. We are undoubtedly a minority.

Although knowing the scarcity of social workers is a bit worrisome at times, I’d like to think that we have done and will continue to do a great job proving ourselves as a necessity to the legislative session. Whereas we may not be experts (yet) in the fundamentals of state law, we do understand the implications of policy in ways that not all fields may. We are able to comprehend and interpret the context in which laws will be applied. This is essential to all the Policy Analysts for the Legislative Study Group (LSG), of which I am a part.

As a Policy Analyst, I will be given 4 to 5 committees (subject matters will vary) to actively observe and analyze all respective bills. After attending committee meetings and speaking with experts in the field, I will have to construct an analysis on any bills—from my committees—that have made it to the floor for deliberation. The analyses I provide will be given to all House and Senate members belonging to the Legislative Study Group to help assist them in how they choose to vote. As a staffer of the LSG, I will have some responsibility in determining the passage of potential laws in Texas. However, my greater responsibility will be to scrutinize the influence these laws could have on the lives of Texans. This responsibility can be done by anyone, but most effectively by social workers.

About GCSW Legislative Interns

This blog is brought to you courtesy of The Graduate College of Social Work's Austin Legislative Internship Program. The College selects graduate MSW students to intern at the Texas Legislature during its legislative session every two years. Student interns work as full-time staffers in the Legislature, either as policy analysts with the Legislative Study Group, a Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives, or in legislators’ offices. Here, they will share their unique experiences!
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