New Social Work Caucus Tackles Social Safety Net Issues in Congress

Mar 15, 2011, 15:32 ET from National Association of Social Workers

Social Work Bills in the House and Senate are Reintroduced on World Social Work Day

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, U.S. Congressman Edolphus "Ed" Towns (NY-10), with the support of other professional Social Workers in Congress and national organization leaders, launched a Congressional Social Work Caucus, and reintroduced the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act (SWRA).

The SWRA legislation seeks to create a Social Work Reinvestment Commission to study the profession's development; and to establish demonstration grants that address immediate workforce and service needs.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for social workers is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations.  However, educational debt, workplace safety, and comparatively low salaries threaten the profession's ability to meet increasing demands for social work services in a range of settings: hospitals, schools, prisons, private practices, private and public agencies, and the military.

The Social Work Caucus will serve as an informal, bipartisan group of Members of Congress dedicated to maintaining and strengthening social work services in the United States. It will educate national legislators and their staffs on issues that challenge the social work profession.

"I am pleased to reintroduce the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act in the 112th Congress in recognition of World Social Work Day and in celebration of our new Congressional Social Work Caucus," said Congressman Towns.  "I am proud to be a social worker and proud to be counted among the more than 640,000 social workers in the United States who provide care for the elderly, assist the poor, and offer hope to children and families all across this country."

U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (MD) added, "We must have the workforce in place to make sure that our returning soldiers have access to mental health services, our elderly maintain their independence in the communities they live in, and abused children are placed in safe homes.  In these tough economic times social workers can play a critical role in keeping communities together and helping individuals and families cope with the new stresses they are facing."  

Today's activities in Congress also commemorate National Professional Social Work Month, which was officially established in 1984.  A series of Caucus-sponsored issue briefings this year will explore elements of the 2011 Social Work Month theme "Social Workers Change Futures." Research shows that social workers improve client outcomes in health care, mental health, child welfare and aging support services.  But to continue this work, these professionals need additional support.

"The Caucus is being created at a time of considerable change for our nation, and a time of critical importance for our profession," says Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH, executive director of the National Association of Social Workers.  "The recent economic crisis has reinforced the value of a strong and stable social safety net. We look forward to seeing the work of our Social Work leaders in Congress used to help more Americans access better services when they need them."

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers with 145,000 members. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.

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Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH

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SOURCE National Association of Social Workers



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