Thursday, April 11, 2013

Health Leads: A New Approach to Social Work in Modern America

[Health Leads] is exactly the kind of social innovation and entrepreneurship we should be encouraging all across this country.

This semester I've had the privilege of working with Health Leads, an organization whose mission is to connect low-income families with resources they need to maintain and improve public health. In recent years the American economy has taken recessionary blows which have not only affected the American market but more importantly the American people. Those who are left by the wayside are unfortunately often those who need the most help, especially low-income families living in an unstable and inadequate welfare system.

The position I am in as an intern is a community Health Advocate. Health Leads desks are located in: Chicago, Baltimore, New York City, Boston, Providence and Washington D.C. My fellow advocates and I, all 11 of us, are the first group of students at a new desk at Nassau University Medical Center which opened in January 2013. The clients we assist have needs which include: food assistance (SNAP), cash assistance (TANF), medicare, healthcare, housing, immigration, childcare and adult education (ESL). Clients are referred to our desk by: resident physicians, nurses and social workers, flyering in waiting rooms and walk-ins. After an initial intake, advocates foster and maintain a relationship with their clients through weekly follow-ups and connecting families with resources.

The community and region surrounding and within Uniondale, NY is one of low-economic growth and stability, fleeting opportunities for employment and a growing population of undocumented migrants.
In wake of the sequester, the social welfare system has seen larger reforms and regulations which affect many of these families, especially women receiving WIC (Women Infant Care) assistance. Through the use of an interactive resource databases, such as 211 Long Island and Hite Site, advocates are able to not only create life changing experiences but better understand how much federal and state policies affect those living in our community.

To get involved visit Health Leads' website!
It's never to late to make a difference.

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