The week before Thanksgiving, I attended the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Impact 2017 Conference in Washington D.C. with my field placement (The NC Justice Center). The conference brought together policy advocates and analysts from around the country to discuss pressing public policy issues and strategies on how to better engage with stakeholders. If you have never heard of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities check out their website: https://www.cbpp.org/
They provide invaluable information and analysis on the effects of federal and state policies. They support other groups doing similar work, such as the NC Justice Center.
The conference was impactful, as the title of the conference suggests. The sessions at the conference were heavily focused on race equity and its relation to policy creation, implementation, and engagement. Some presenters spoke better than others about what race equity means and how we can strive for it in all aspects of our work and lives. The sessions I attended were titled: Getting Started: Bringing a Race Equity Focus to Community Engagement; Identifying and Engaging Legislative Champions; Taking an Intersectional Lens to Our Work: Gender, Race, and Economic Security; and Why Confronting Our Tax Code Requires Confronting Systemic Racism Head-On. Below are a few pictures of the conference. The man speaking in the photo is Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. His most recent book is Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America. He is one of the nation’s most renowned public intellectuals and writes on the sociology of the Black experience in America.
During my field placement, I have been learning a lot about how taxes and budgets play a critical role in shaping effective social policies. Taxes and budgets are also used as means to take away social programs that benefits households with low and moderate incomes. The conference reiterated this connection. As social workers, we cannot talk about changing social policy without talking about economics. Unfortunately, I feel that social work education is lacking in this area. Through my field placement, I have been able to somewhat fill the void of knowledge and discussion about budgets and taxes and feel that I am a more competent practitioner with my increased understanding of economics. As the semester comes to an end, I look forward to the additional opportunities I am offered through my field placement.