Reinvestment Effort Unites NASW/CSWA

NASW's Social Work Reinvestment Initiative gained support from other social work organizations in the fall, helping to unify support of the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr., Social Work Reinvestment Act.

At the end of September, 81 cosponsors in the U.S. House cosponsored the legislation (H.R. 5447), which proposes to establish a Social Work Reinvestment Commission to study policy issues associated with recruitment, retention, research, and reinvestment in the social work profession.

Democratic presidential candidate and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama recently joined colleagues in the Senate in cosponsoring the companion bill (S. 2858), which at the end of September had 14 cosponsors.

The Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA) and NASW recently posted a video on the video-sharing Web site YouTube to announce their partnership and plans to work together on promoting government relations initiatives related to the profession.

Laura Groshong, government relations director for CSWA, said both associations recognize the importance that clinical social work plays in today's society, with clinical social workers being the largest group of mental health care providers in the country.

Groshong said CSWA supports the social work reinvestment act because, if passed into law, it will gather information about the importance of clinical social work services while at the same time study how challenges to the workforce can affect access to these services.

"I urge you to take a moment to contact your members of Congress and ask for their support as well," she said. NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark also appears in the video. She noted that NASW and CSWA will work together to promote the profession. "As we look to the future, the Clinical Social Work Association and the National Association of Social Workers will continue to advocate for clinical social work services, whether in congressional debates on health care reform, or when seeking to improve Medicare payments for clinical social work," Clark said. "These efforts will help us recruit new clinical social workers as well as retain experienced clinicians, who are necessary if we are to keep pace with the rapidly increasing demand for clinical social work services in this country," she said.

The Action Network for Social Work Education and Research (ANSWER), which serves as the steering committee for the reinvestment initiative, also joined NASW in posting a YouTube video recently, with Jeane Anastas discussing why the reinvestment act needs to passed by Congress. Anastas, the convener for the ANSWER Coalition, explained that the group coordinates efforts to recruit, retain, and retrain social workers in order to build healthy families and communities.

Anastas said the social work reinvestment act will chart a new course for the profession.

"This bill will benefit all social workers and will ensure that we can continue to provide direct services to clients as well as conduct valuable research, teach important social work values and skills, and advocate for those we serve," she said.

Anastas also urged viewers to call their representatives in Washington, D.C., to support the bills.

Social workers and social work supporters have made strides in supporting the initiative. At the end of September, there were nearly 17,000 letters sent to the House and nearly 14,000 letters sent to the Senate in support of the bills.

Clark said that if the reinvestment act does not pass under the current 110th Congress, the reinvestment bills are expected to be reintroduced in January when the 111th Congress begins.