JSU Senior Chosen To Testify
Jamie M. Eubanks
JSU News Bureau
Jacksonville State University will soon have a voice in Washington, D.C. Sandra Bumgardner, a senior social work major at JSU, was chosen to testify before the United States Congress at the 2001 Social Work Policy Practice Forum.
Bumgardner was one of only eight students selected in the nation for this opportunity and, consequently, will be addressing these issues as a representative of our state.
"I recently realized that I'm not just representing social work at JSU," says Bumgardner. "I'm representing my hometown, social workers in Etowah County and all across the state."
She was introduced to the contest by Dr. Maureen Newton, assistant professor of social work at JSU. Now Newton is serving as Bumgardner's faculty mentor for the contest. Since Newton teaches Social Policy and Services, she was perfect for the job.
Once selected, Bumgardner when to work on her remarks. She knows firsthand the demands that are placed on social workers in Alabama, because she is currently interning at the Etowah County Department of Human Resources. There, she deals with child welfare.
"We are entrusted with the safety and welfare of these children," comments Bumgardner. "These children will be our future leaders."
But this welfare is compromised by several issues that the Social Work Policy Practice Forum, at which Bumgardner will speak, is striving to change.
The Child Protection Services Improvement Act is a piece of legislation that she, in essence, will be lobbying for. Key issues in the act Bumgardner will address include turnover rates, pay disparity, and the hazards of working conditions.
Every year in Alabama, 20 percent of social workers leave their current workplace for better job opportunities. In child welfare cases, this could be devastating for the children.
"Children find security in their social workers. And when the social worker leaves for a better job, they leave that case with a different social worker. In this case, the child loses that security."
And many leave these jobs for better pay in state agencies.
"Even though the pay for Child Welfare Social Workers recently increased to $25,139.00," comments Bumgardner, "this is still too low for the dangerous working conditions that have to be endured. Between verbal threats and actual violence, we need better pay."
In closing Bumgardner states, "Help protect America and America's resources, her children."
Bumgardner is scheduled to testify October 2 on Capitol Hill. And Dr. Newton will accompany her.
Upon graduating from JSU with a bachelor's degree in social work, Bumgardner will continue her education at the University of Alabama to receive her master's in social work and public health.
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