NASW's Social Work Reinvestment Initiative continued to make gains in the spring with more members of the U.S. House and Senate backing the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr., Social Work Reinvestment Act (SWRA) in their respective chambers.
NASW's Jennifer Watt, Gail Woods Waller and Elizabeth J. Clark (seated) meet with CSWA's Kevin Host and Laura Groshong.
At the end of May, 70 cosponsors in the House pledged support for 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. In the Senate, the companion bill introduced in April (S. 2858) had gained seven cosponsors by May.
All 10 social workers in Congress are supporting the legislation as well, including Senate sponsor Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and cosponsor Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). In the House, supporters include bill sponsor Rep. Eldophus "Ed" Towns (D-N.Y.) along with Reps. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.).
"They are working on spreading the message of the Social Work Reinvestment Act to other members of Congress," said Elizabeth Franklin, Social Work Reinvestment Initiative project manager at NASW. "They will be championing this very important legislation."
Numerous organizations representing social work in clinical, educational, research and policy areas have also sent letters to Congress in support of the bills.
Some of the latest organizations to back the SWRA include:
- The Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA) — CSWA President Kevin Host and CSWA Director of Government Relations Laura Groshong met with NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark in Seattle to discuss ways their membership can support the legislation and work together to strengthen the social work profession.
- The Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care — Charles Robbins, the organization's president, recently met with Clark and NASW staff members to discuss how his group's members can further support the legislation.
- National Council of Negro Women, Inc. — The council posted a message of support for the reinvestment initiative on its Website.
Social Work Leadership in Health Care's Charles Robbins
NASW members and social work advocates across the nation are also sending letters and postcards to their representatives, urging them to cosponsor the legislation. At the end of May, 12,275 letters or postcards had been sent to the House and 6,287 letters or postcards to the Senate in support of the SWRA.
Franklin noted that social workers and advocates can view the latest Social Work Reinvestment Initiative details. At the site, visitors may download a SWRA postcard that can be sent to their members of Congress. Social workers and non-social-workers alike can also e-mail Franklin at firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like to receive these SWRA postcards for themselves or for their own personal distribution.
National staff is also branching out in other ways to spread the social work reinvestment message. The association hopes to garner 50 cosponsors in the Senate through grassroots and lobbying efforts to ensure a broad base of support as the bill works its way through the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Also, state-specific reinvestment materials have been delivered to senators that outline important statistics about social work and social workers in their respective states.
At press time, staffers were in the process of producing a YouTube video featuring Clark and her message about why it's important that social workers contact their representatives.
Members are also encouraged to keep track of the latest NASW advocacy efforts by frequently visiting the Advocacy section.