Statement of National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Executive Director Dr. Elizabeth Clark in Support of H.R. 5447, The Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act
Washington, D.C. – February 14, 2008 – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) applauds the introduction today of H.R. 5447, the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act by Congressman Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT). This is a significant initiative which, if enacted, will enable the nation’s 600,000 professional social workers to better serve families and communities in need.
At a time when demand for high-quality social services in our nation is at an all-time high, and at a time when professional social workers themselves are facing a range of daunting challenges, the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act is deserving of the full support of all – social workers as well as the general public.
Named for two of the United States’ greatest champions of social justice, the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act would establish a Social Work Reinvestment Commission to provide a comprehensive analysis of current trends within the professional and academic social work communities. Specifically, the Commission will develop long-term recommendations and strategies to maximize the ability of America’s social workers to serve their clients with expertise and care.
This legislation also creates competitive demonstration grants which will support efforts underway within both the private and public sectors, at our nation’s institutions of higher learning, and within community-based organizations already administering services to underserved client populations. This investment will be returned many times over both in support of ongoing efforts to establish effective social service solutions and in direct service to affected client communities.
The volume and nature of our human, social service and health care needs are changing. Whether it’s the more than one million veterans returning from the Iraq war, the more than 500,000 children in our foster care system, or the hundreds of thousands of families dealing with health, homelessness, or addiction issues, professional, experienced social workers are in greater demand than ever.
At the same time, social worker salaries are significantly lower than those in comparable professions, social workers are retiring and leaving the profession in great numbers, and schools of social work are finding it more difficult to recruit young, dedicated people into the profession. The programs and initiatives of the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act will go a long way to ensure our supply of professional social workers can keep up with rising demand.
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The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, D.C. (www.socialworkers.org), is the largest membership organization of professional social workers with 150,000 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.