Letters to the Editor (April 2015)

Criminal justice system should be focus of reform

In her letter to the editor, printed in the February 2015 issue of the NASW News, Phyllis LaVigna states that “NASW’s social action should be focused on our vulnerable population-not police reform.”

Events in Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere clearly demonstrate the vulnerability of black men in the criminal justice system. A review of statistics concerning incarceration further highlights this reality. Given the vulnerability of this population, social workers have a responsibility to address all factors contributing to it and advocate for needed change.

It is not only appropriate, but also necessary, for NASW to focus attention on this issue. Comprehensive intervention is critical, and must include a thorough examination of current practices employed by police. Where necessary, social workers must advocate for needed reform in these practices.

Attention must also focus on the adjudication process and what happens once one enters the formal judicial system.

Again, advocacy for needed reform in this system is critical.

The NASW Code of Ethics clearly articulates our responsibility to pursue social justice and advocate for the most vulnerable, and actively addressing the issue of police reform is a concrete example of exercising that responsibility.

Jim Allen
St. Louis, Mo.

School social workers need recognition, support

As a member of NASW since 1986, I am very pleased to learn that our organization is attempting to strengthen government relations strategies regarding the vital role that Social Workers play. (February 2015 issue.)

As a school social worker I am responsible for the provision of a full complement of services including counseling, crisis intervention for students their families and staff, parent education, psycho-education and billing Medicaid for my services.

I was deeply concerned that the article neglected to include the vital role clinical social workers continue to play in the public school system.

It is no secret that the chronic and eroding pressures on teachers, students and their families have been on the rise. With the increase in school violence, multigenerational impact of poverty, immigration issues, unfunded mandates (No Child Left Behind), Common Core Curriculum, APPR and increased standardized testing, the culture and climate within the public schools has been adversely affected.

Consequently, schools appear to need more, not less support from social workers as well as our professional organizations. Perhaps NASW could reach out to the School Social Worker Associations across our state and country to become acquainted with the variety of vital services that school social workers provide.

As a proud member of NASW and the New York State School Social Workers Association, I need to emphasize that school social workers make a difference and need the recognition and support of our larger organization.

Patti Rosenbloom LCSWR
Woodstock, N.Y.