While the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr., Social Work Reinvestment Act (H.R. 5447) was introduced to Congress in February, NASW chapters continue to do their part with Social Work Reinvestment Initiative (SWRI) efforts at the state level.
Following are several examples:
The Mississippi Chapter in February organized a "social worker salary rally" at the state capitol. The effort brought out 256 social workers, social work students and faculty who met with legislators and participated in a press conference to encourage better pay for social workers in the state.
Among those attending were NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark; Chapter President Taylor McGlawn; Legislative Liaison Charles Araujo; and Mississippi Chapter Executive Director Janice Sandefur. Representatives from nine accredited schools of social work attended as well.
Many lawmakers stopped by a display of information on state bills that concern social workers and the clients they serve, according to Mississippi Chapter organizers.
The chapter has an outline of specific SWRI goals, including increasing and retaining the number of qualified social workers in state agencies by legislating minimum salaries for certain licenses.
New York State
At the New York State Chapter, among the many SWRI projects in the works is a Veterans' Mental Health Initiative. SWRI enables the state legislature and general public to see social workers and NASW as valuable resources in meeting community needs, organizers said. Information on NASW membership is provided at all training events as well. The increased exposure at training events furthers NASW's viability as a professional organization, organizers said.
The chapter also held its annual conference at the end of March, where attendees had the opportunity to learn more about their professional organization as well as get information on skill-development opportunities and learn about legislation that affects social workers and their clients.
New York City
New York City Chapter leaders said in their recent SWRI report that they are working on building relationships with schools of social work, providers of social work services and labor unions to develop and implement their plan.
Among the chapter's goals:
- Research and collect data on the social work workforce in New York City and its future needs.
- Lobby for funding to expand the New York State Social Worker Loan Forgiveness program.
- Advocate funding to increase the supply of Latino and Asian social workers and social workers of African descent who are bilingual and bicultural and especially committed to serving their communities.
- Improve working conditions.
- Advocate funding and reimbursement for social work services, including appropriate salary levels for social workers.
- Undo racism.
At the Illinois Chapter, leaders have outlined a plan that includes strategies, potential partners and outcome goals.
The strategies include:
- Providing high-school and community-college advising offices with descriptions of the social work profession.
- Conducting a survey of human services agencies and types of available social work jobs and the agencies' rationale for selecting degreed social workers for the positions.
- Mounting a direct mail campaign.
- Tapping into NASW's National Center for Workforce Studies for data on Illinois and disseminating data to key stakeholders.
- Focusing attention on Medicare reimbursement legislation and loan forgiveness, among other issues.
In Maryland, the chapter devised an informal partnership coalition under the direction of the chapter's SWRI Task Force, composed of representatives of the chapter, leading employers of social workers, schools of social work, regulatory bodies and other social work associations.
The coalition convened in November to devise a state plan. Specific areas of interest agreed upon are: recruitment, retention and education; licensing and title protection; research and professional development; and public perception of the profession.
The Arizona Chapter is planning to host three "social work day at the legislature" events within a 12-month period in order to meet with lawmakers and inform them about social workers and their needs. Members also will advocate legislation that address state loan-forgiveness programs and title protection.
The chapter is working to unify the profession by developing a Marketing Committee to demonstrate the value of social workers. To assure a qualified and culturally competent social work labor force, the chapter is exploring the possibility of developing a speakers' bureau. Members are also encouraging and promoting social work diversity with an emphasis on Spanish speakers and hosting at least two Leadership Circles in a 12-month period.
In Nevada, growth is the most dominate demographic affecting the state. Its population has increased by 28.4 percent since the 2000 census. In comparison, the national growth rate has been 7.1 percent. Chapter leaders said the rapid growth has a significant impact on the state's need for social work services. Based on national SWRI guidelines, the chapter's SWRI and executive committees have set the following priorities:
- Retain and advance current Nevada social workers.
- Recruit new social workers to the state.
- Educate the public about the value and role of social workers.
- Advance social work in the child welfare system.
At press time, Kentucky Chapter members planned a full day of SWRI activities for the middle of March. Among planned activities were a SWRI breakfast and awards ceremony, a SWRI rally at the state capitol and a SWRI reception dinner.