Social Work in Action (March 2015)

NASW staff provided suggestions to JooYeun Chang, associate commissioner for the Children’s Bureau, during an advocate stakeholders meeting the bureau hosted in December.

The bureau is seeking guidance as it begins implementing provisions of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, which was signed into law last year. Primarily, the law amends the title IV-E/IV-B programs with a focus on new requirements for older children in foster care and trafficking victims.

Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of the NASW Social Work Policy Institute, said that there are many stipulations in the law that will require coordination between the child welfare system, the police and judges, and the health and education systems. It was suggested that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services work with the Justice Department on implementation, technical assistance and training efforts. Also, it was noted that the voice of foster youth needs to be heard and listened to, especially regarding runaways.

Health care social worker Barbara McCann, chief industry officer of Interim HealthCare Inc., presented on home-care trends at the Institute of Medicine workshop “The Future of Home Health Care,” last fall. McCann addressed the chronic need for home care, the challenges of care transitions between health care practitioners and settings, and the role of technology and need for comprehensive, accessible data. McCann urged changes to improve care transitions. The workshop summary is available from The National Academies Press.

In January, McCann highlighted the social work role within the interdisciplinary home health team at the symposium “Tackling Critical Issues for the Future of Home and Community Based Care,” which the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation hosted.

Social workers should take note of a new education and training publication available from the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative.

Progress and Promise: Profiles in Interprofessional Health Training to Deliver Patient-Centered Primary Care highlights how seven programs from California, Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia train a variety of health care professionals to work together as teams in patient-centered medical homes.

NASW was among the sponsors for the project and provided input in its development.

The seven programs included in the publication train social workers, medical students, residents, nurse practitioners, nurses, physician assistants, psychologists, and other health professionals to work together effectively.

“The goal of the publication is to serve as a learning resource and to provide encouragement for health professionals who want to deliver better care at a lower cost, but aren’t sure of the steps forward,” said Barbara Brandt, director of the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education. “Their peers provide guidance on the best approaches to developing and training a high-functioning team and, more importantly, show that it’s possible.”

NASW Senior Policy Adviser Evelyn Tomaszewski represented NASW at the Means of Violence workshop in December. The workshop is part of a series developed by the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Global Violence Prevention, of which Tomaszewski is a member and served as workshop co-chair.

The workshop focused on the effectiveness of preventing and reducing violence by lethal means, and addressed collective violence, the intersection of technology and lethal violence, and the socio-cultural context of violence.

“As social workers, we have an important role in prevention when we take the opportunity to address the indirect impact of violence and conflict on the individuals and communities in which we work — be it increased risk of communicable diseases, limited or no access to health or mental health services, or general psycho-social complications,” Tomaszewski said.

The workshop also presented three literature reviews commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation addressing alcohol, youth and point of access for at-risk individuals. A brief of the workshop is available from the National Academies Press.

NASW’s Pennsylvania Chapter helped move legislation (S.B. 807) into law, creating a voluntary license for bachelor’s level social workers. Pennsylvania now joins 36 other states that have this credential for BSWs. Former Gov. Tom Corbett signed the bill into law on Oct. 22, 2014, making it Act 179.

The bill creates a voluntary license for individuals who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in social work, and the chapter says outcomes in a variety of areas of social work delivery will improve now that this credential is available. Licensure for BSWs protects the public, the chapter says, and holds those individuals who operate outside of the NASW Code of Ethics and professional standards accountable. The credential also sets BSWs apart from graduates with other degrees, paving the way for more of them to deliver frontline social work services.

NASW-Pennsylvania encourages graduates and current students to stay connected to the chapter to find out more about the dates and availability of the state’s licensing application and exam. According to the law, everything could be in place as soon as July. However, the process could take longer because new regulations have to be written to comply with the law. BSW graduates are required to pay the necessary fees in order to take the exam and obtain licensure. There will also be a continuing education requirement for a bachelor’s level license.

The Society for Social Work and Research held its annual conference in New Orleans in January, with the theme “The Social and Behavioral Importance of Increased Longevity.”

Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of NASW’s Social Work Policy Institute, presented two sessions at the conference: “Developing Successful Minority Social Work Scholars” and “Using Social Work Research to Tame Wicked Social Problems: Strategic Considerations to Develop, Fund and Disseminate Research.”

“NASW is involved in working to ensure there is a diverse scientific and social work workforce,” Zlotnik said. “In order to address the many problems society faces today, we need a diverse pool of people working together on these issues.”

Zlotnik spoke about the importance of research during her presentation to the Associate Deans for Research Special Interest Group. She said research influences public policy, practice improvements and innovations, and education, and helps to promote new research.

She also organized an informal evening discussion group during the conference on the child welfare workforce and child fatalities. The group talked about how research plays a key role in securing the necessary funding to deal with the issues that arise in these two areas.

NASW CEO Angelo McClain and NASW’s Deputy Director of Programs Heidi McIntosh also attended the conference.

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