Social Work in Action (November 2012)

NASW co-sponsored the Social Services Block Grant briefing, which took place Sept. 12 on Capitol Hill. The briefing was an appeal to Congress to keep the $1.7 billion grant going.

SSBG, also known as the Title XX Social Security Act, is being targeted for elimination by the House of Representatives under bill H.R. 5652, which was passed in May 2012 as part of a budget-cutting proposal said to protect current tax reductions and the defense budget.

The briefing panel included Cecile Noel, executive deputy commissioner of the New York City Human Resources Administration; Bob Suver, director of the Clark County Ohio Department of Job and Family Services; Jerry Davis, vice president of National Advocacy and Public Policy, Boys Town; and Del. Samuel Rosenburg, D-Baltimore, vice chairman of the Maryland House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee.

The panel, moderated by John Sciamanna of the National Foster Care and National Child Abuse Coalition, discussed the importance of SSBG as a flexible resource that most U.S. counties in all 50 states can use in their particular areas of need, and the damage that could be caused across communities by a lack of SSBG funds.

The grant provides funding for several human services program areas, including child protection, residential treatment, transportation, counseling, foster care, information and referral, legal, prevention and intervention, case management, and family planning.

NASW sent an SSBG advocacy alert to more than 72,000 social workers, and the association urges members to speak to their senators and representatives to keep the grant intact.

The 2012 National Forum on Disability Issues met in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 28. The nonpartisan forum brought together campaign representatives for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to offer a platform for them to voice their candidate’s opinions on disability issues.

According to Dorothy Martindale, BSW intern at NASW-Ohio who attended the event, three surrogates attended in place of the actual candidates: Nancy Garland, for Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Ted Kennedy Jr. for Obama; and Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Romney.

“Each surrogate presented their candidate's background in serving people with disabilities, before the moderator, Frank Sesno, asked questions that had been collected in a survey conducted prior to the forum,” Martindale said.

The forum was also presented live online, she said, and had more than 2,000 sites in attendance.

The Joint Commission, a nonprofit that certifies and accredits more than 19,000 U.S health care organizations and services, launched its Speak Up™ campaign on palliative care in October. The campaign features a consumer brochure on palliative care that NASW, one of seven collaborative partners, helped develop.

“Palliative care enhances quality of life for individuals and families affected by serious or life-limiting illness,” said NASW CEO Elizabeth J. Clark. “Social workers play an integral role in palliative care, and NASW is pleased to collaborate with the Joint Commission in educating the public about this important topic.”

NASW Senior Practice Associate Chris Herman — with support from NASW member Lorraine Hedtke — represented NASW throughout the development process by providing information and feedback to shape the brochure’s content.

The brochure offers consumers informative palliative care basics, such as where to access palliative care services, questions to ask palliative care providers and where to find more information. The palliative care campaign is one of a number of topics the Joint Commission has addressed since it launched the Speak Up™ initiative in 2002.

Download the free brochure Speak Up: What you need to know about your serious illness and palliative care in English or Spanish.

The power of social work was proven in South Carolina as the NASW South Carolina Chapter celebrated the passage of a state’s bill against human trafficking (H. 3757), which was signed into law in June.

The law is a victory for state social workers who championed the bill, working for the chapter’s Government Affairs Committee.

Chapter Executive Director Carla Damron said members did their part by attending hearings and committee meetings, and the bill was a major focus of the chapter’s March Legislative Day.

“We networked with the University of South Carolina College of Social Work and with other advocates, including Appleseed Legal Justice and the League of Women Voters, and joined forces when numbers were needed to make our point,” Damron said in her newsletter column.

The chapter also sent letters and called on key legislators to express the chapter’s endorsement of the bill.

“When the House failed to pass the bill and sent it to a joint conference committee scheduled for June 5, NASW-S.C. issued a blast email to social workers and advocates all across the state and contacted every legislator assigned to the committee,” Damron said. “When it was time for the conference committee to convene, a crowd of concerned social workers and advocates swarmed the corridor, ready to fill the hearing room. A message came to the crowd that said the meeting had been canceled. It also said, essentially, ‘Never mind. We get it now. It’s going to pass.’”

Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill into law on June 18. Damron said the journey does not end there. She alerted members to an October workshop titled “Break the Chains: Helping Victims of Human Trafficking.”

Damron said when H.B. 3757 becomes law in January, the chapter will do its part by educating social workers and other professionals about it.