Social Work Policy Institute Celebrates October Launch

— Heidi Sfiligoj, News Staff

The Social Work Policy Institute, a new entity in the NASW Foundation, is launching Oct. 1 and will serve as a think tank and repository for evidence on what works in social work practice.

Joan Levy ZlotnikThe institute will pull together researchers and thinkers to develop papers and briefs and have policy briefings on Capitol Hill on critical issues. Joan Levy Zlotnik, who was staff director of NASW's Family Commission and Government Relations Associate at the NASW National Office from 1987 to 1994 and most recently served as the executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research, will be the director of the Social Work Policy Institute. In October, to celebrate its launch, the institute will host a Social Work Summit on Comparative Effectiveness Research.

The institute, which will work collaboratively with NASW's Government Relations Office and the NASW Center for Workforce Studies, will help fill a gap in the profession by examining important issues and asserting social work's contribution.

"It's a way of enhancing social work's presence during national policy conversations," Zlotnik said. "For example, we will look at how social work and social work research fits into the current health care discussion, and how it can contribute to helping people who experience disparities or have less access to care."

The institute will look at current issues such as health care reform, health care disparities and the relevance of the global economy to the social work profession, as well as issues relating to evidence-informed practices. It will also generate ideas or issues that come through the NASW Foundation.

The institute will examine issues that relate to the work of social workers, including how to serve people who have multiple or complex needs, as well as how change takes place in public agencies and other structures through which health and human services are delivered.

Additionally, the institute will determine how research findings get into policy, and will work to better position and strengthen the profession.

"It's important that we become more proactive," Zlotnik said.

The institute will help create Web resources that will address frequently asked questions, such as social work effectiveness.

"To create an entity, especially at a critical time for the profession, that can be a resource and repository for critical information about social work, as well as represent social work in the larger community, is an asset to NASW," Zlotnik said.