The annual Legislative Education and Advocacy Day (LEAD) is a legislative event hosted by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) that brought 110 UCF Social Work students to the State Capitol on January 27 and 28. During LEAD, students have the opportunity to further their knowledge about policy issues in substantive areas of social work practice and learn from participants about legislative advocacy. We met with MSW student and HEALS scholar, Gilarys Garcia to tell us more about her LEAD experience.
What issues did you advocate for while at LEAD?
I sat in CS/SB 1324: Child Welfare where they discussed requirements the Florida Court Educational Council should establish for the welfare of children. And I also sat in CS/SB 700. It was about a juvenile diversion program, which are alternate programs for minors who were jailed and helps find different options for them to succeed after they are released.
What made you want to attend those two sessions?
I am currently interning at Deveraux where I work with a lot of children. The sessions were more applicable to me because they were about community-based programs. I think attending those sessions will help me be more informed about my client’s rights and the policies that social workers should follow as per the state law.
What does LEAD mean to you?
I think advocacy is very important for us to do as social workers. Going to LEAD gives us the opportunity to see social work in a direct way and have an impact on the legislative level. I believe if I equip myself with the best resources available to me, I can only then be a strong advocate for my clients and empower them.