Social Work in Action (February 2015)

NASW and the NASW Foundation will collaborate with the Education Development Center Inc., the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association to create a new Mental Health and HIV/AIDS Training Resource Center.

Funded by a $4 million grant over five years from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the center will provide training and education to social workers and allied providers on a variety of mental health issues affecting those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

The new center will bring together the work of NASW’s HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project, the American Psychological Association’s Hope Program, and the American Psychiatric Association’s Office of AIDS Psychiatry.

It will use activities such as national meetings and virtual learning environments to provide online and face-to-face training and technical assistance to mental health professionals who work with people affected by HIV.

A committee that includes consumer advocates will oversee the center’s activities, priorities and quality of care.

More information: HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project

NASW Social Work Pioneer® Robyn GoldenNASW Social Work Pioneer® Robyn Golden, director of Health and Aging at Rush University Medical Center, was among the panelists at the Eldercare Workforce Alliance congressional briefing held in December. Golden urged funding for the training of professionals in geriatrics and gerontology services, including direct-care workers. She also discussed the vital role social workers play on health care teams and urged increased support for social, mental and behavioral health needs of older adults. NASW is a member of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance.

The John A. Hartford Foundation in December approved a grant to support the Hartford/NASW Gerontological Social Work Supervisors Program. The grant will aid in strengthening the effectiveness of social work practice on the front lines of health and social services to older adults by improving the supervisory and leadership skills and gerontological knowledge of MSW supervisors.

The three-year program will provide funding for a comprehensive training for 160 MSW supervisors through eight cohorts. Each cohort will receive 10 educational sessions through NASW chapters in Florida, Illinois, Maryland and New York City. Look for updates on this project in future issues of the NASW News.

Also in December, the New York Community Trust announced a grant to support “Social Work HEALS,” a five-year project between NASW and the Council on Social Work Education to strengthen the delivery of health care services by advancing the training of health care social workers at the BSW, MSW, Ph.D./DSW and postdoctoral levels.

The project will include scholarships for BSW, MSW and doctoral social work students, policy fellowships for social work doctoral or postdoctoral students, and education enhancement strategies to promote systems change through networks and training opportunities.

Social workers Lynn Feinberg, a senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute; and Lisa Gwyther, the founder and director of the Duke University Center for Aging’s Family Support Program, are members of the Institute of Medicine committee called the “Study on Family Caregiving for Older Adults.” The committee will analyze a variety of challenges to family caregivers of older adults, including differences in needs associated with race, ethnicity, and other factors. Progress in meeting these challenges will be examined. The committee will provide recommendations for health delivery system reform and other policies and actions.

The Obama Administration has announced it will convene a White House Conference on Aging this year. The White House has held such conferences each decade since the 1960s to identify and advance actions to improve the quality of life of older Americans.

The 2015 WHCoA will focus on four themes: retirement security; healthy aging; long-term services and supports; and elder justice (abuse, neglect and exploitation).

Regional forums are planned for Tampa, Fla., Feb. 19; Phoenix, Ariz, Mar. 31; Seattle, Wash., April 9; Cleveland, Ohio, April 27; and Boston, Mass., May 28. The forums are designed to help provide input and ideas for the WHCoA, which will be held in Washington, D.C., later this year.

WHCoA staff have said the conference would include a strong virtual component.

Previous WHCoAs were funded as part of the Older Americans Act. Because Congress has not reauthorized the OAA, the scale and scope of the 2015 event will differ significantly from previous White House aging conferences. But the social work profession and the public have multiple opportunities to influence the WHCoA. Social workers are urged to visit the conference website, 2015 White House Conference on Aging (archive).

Older Americans and leaders in the field of aging may also provide their input and personal stories through the website. The site includes listening sessions with older Americans and advocates across the country leading up to the conference.

Officials with the Government Accountability Office met with NASW staff recently to gain insight into what barriers exist for people seeking mental health treatment as they relate to the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. NASW shared its resources on the topic, outlined in its recent Practice Perspectives, Social Work Standards and updated health care policies. NASW also highlighted social workers involved in research related to the ACA innovations.

NASW staff met with officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s offices of HIV and AIDS and its Orphans and Vulnerable Children program to discuss NASW’s research findings that support best practices in child welfare workforce issues. In particular, they discussed findings that relate to workforce retention and supervision. USAID is examining whether the information may be translatable to a global format.

Jean Bennett, Region 3 administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — which includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia — met with members of the mid-Atlantic National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work in November along with executive directors of NASW chapters in those areas and Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of the NASW Social Work Policy Institute.

The session focused on how NASW and its chapters are helping to train social workers in integrated care in mental health and substance abuse services. Talks highlighted strategies to improve delivery and the important role social workers have in mental health service delivery.

Attendees discussed the possibility of creating social work training for the Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment, or SBIRT, model.

It serves as a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services for people with substance use disorders.