Master of Social Work students fill a number of roles with municipal agencies as part of the 900 hours they each commit to their field education programs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they are providing vital support to children and families as well as learning how to apply their classroom knowledge in innovative and meaningful ways.
Elizabeth “Lizzy” Crigler is finishing her second semester in the Tulane University School of Social Work MSW program and is interning with the Office of Youth and Families (OYF) at the New Orleans Mayor's Office. OYF addresses the health, safety, economic security, and educational needs of children and families and provides oversight and support for the Youth Study Center (YSC), the New Orleans Recreation Department Commission (NORDC), and New Orleans Public Libraries (NOPL). Lizzy’s field instructor is another TSSW alum, Camille Alexander, JD, LCSW, who is also the Deputy Director of OYF.
While working with OYF, Lizzy focuses on constituent support to help people access resources and assists with the various OYF programs, such as the Pathways Program, doing intakes and outreach for participants. Additionally, she is continuing to execute tasks related to the agency's programming so it can continue when stay-at-home orders are lifted.
“I have been doing a lot more outreach work, such as getting information to people about resources available during the crisis,” Lizzy says. “A few weeks ago, I even drove around to the feeding sites at NORDC and the schools to hand out flyers on taking the Census.”
As part of her duties, Lizzy supports the sharing of accurate and accessible information about COVID-19 and other City resources by creating infographics for the City's various social media accounts.
“I have felt incredibly valuable to OYF before and during this crisis,” she says. “Some of my graphics have even been posted on Mayor Cantrell's and the City's Instagram pages.”
The OYF is a small department within the city government, and Lizzy is happy to be part of that collaborative environment. “Any work that I can do takes it out of the hands of my coworkers, which is incredibly helpful for them,” she says. “The work is constantly changing as this crisis develops, and we are constantly trying to figure out the best way to support as many people as we can in the best ways that we can.”
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, OYF’s work was with some of the City’s most vulnerable youth. “Our job was to fight for their well-being in a city that has historically failed its youth, especially those that come from historically marginalized populations,” says Lizzy. “The work we are doing now to advocate for this population is incredibly important to keeping kids in New Orleans safe and healthy.”