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Reinvestment Initiative Announced

Work on the initiative will begin at the state level.

NASW has announced a major initiative designed to unify and advance the social work profession.

The Social Work Reinvestment Initiative, introduced during NASW's Annual Leadership Meeting in early August, is an integrated action plan that addresses four of the key goals identified by the Social Work Congress in 2005.

The congress brought together 400 social work leaders in research, practice, academia and policy who developed an agenda for advancing the social work profession, including 12 imperatives for the next decade.

The Reinvestment Initiative builds on the work of the congress, as well as the launch of the National Social Work Public Education Campaign and the release of findings from the landmark study of the licensed social work labor force by the NASW Workforce Center.

"This initiative is the next step in where we need to go as leaders of the social work profession," said NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark.

The initiative has been drafted as a grid, titled "Unifying and Advancing the Profession." The grid identifies four goals and four arenas in which they can be accomplished.

The four goals are: recruit new social workers; retain current social workers; retrain experienced social workers; and reactivate community investment in social work.

Each of these goals will be accomplished through work in four arenas: legislative and political advocacy; public education; workforce development; and stakeholder engagement.

Clark said the initiative cannot be accomplished by NASW alone. "This has to be an initiative of the profession," she said. In order to engage a broad range of social work concerns, the Action Network for Social Work Education and Research (ANSWER) coalition will serve as the advisory committee for the initiative.

ANSWER is made up of representatives from NASW, the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors, the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education, the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR), the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work and the Society for Social Work and Research. Joan Levy Zlotnik, executive director of IASWR, has been contracted to help develop the initiative.

The initiative will be housed in the NASW Government Relations and Political Action unit and will be a prominent aspect of the NASW Annual Leadership Meeting in April 2007.

"The next Annual Leadership Meeting will include a national social work lobby day, which will be a wonderful opportunity to publicize the initiative and bring our professional needs to the attention of elected officials," said Ikeita Cantú Hinojosa, NASW associate counsel for legislative affairs.

Clark explained that the vision of the project is integrally tied in with state-level plans. She said that each state, through its NASW chapter, social work educators and other social work groups, will develop social work reinvestment plans. "We will develop a template, and each state will work to promote these goals at that level.

"We will then take what has developed at the state level to the national level" through the creation of a national Social Work Reinvestment Act in 2008, Clark said. "Nurses and teachers have reinvestment initiatives; it's time we had one for social workers."

Some of the components of the initiative include funding for social work education, support for research, strengthening policies and regulations to support social work practice, and social work education loan forgiveness.

 
 
 
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