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Social Work in Action (October 2012)

NASW organized a phone conference that included representatives from the Council on Social Work Education and the three Maternal and Child Health Bureau-funded social work leadership training programs.

Michael Lu, associate administrator of MCHB — part of the Health Resources and Services Administration — and Marcia Brand, deputy administrator of HRSA, took part in the August conference call.

Social work leaders expressed the importance of maintaining the bureau’s long-standing grants that support social work education for maternal and child health practice.

Elizabeth J. Clark, NASW CEO; Darla Spence Coffey, CSWE president; and Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of the NASW Foundation’s Social Work Policy Institute, were joined by representatives from the three schools currently receiving the MCHB grants: Edward Pecukonis, director of the University of Maryland School of Social Work Center for MCH Education; Kathleen Rounds, director of the University of North Carolina MCH Public Health Social Work Leadership Training Program; and Mark Friedman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Maternal and Child Health Leadership in Public Health Social Work.

Participants highlighted social work’s history and longtime collaborative role in maternal and child health practice and leadership. The current grants program provides students with social work-specific knowledge and skills in MCH and public health practice, offers MCH continuing education and curriculum modules, and prepares social workers for leadership roles in an interdisciplinary field.

Zlotnik said Lu and Brand expressed their appreciation of social work’s long-standing involvement with the MCHB and said they value the important role of social workers.

Lu noted at the time of the meeting that a final decision regarding a new round of grants has not been made and that the budget will not be finalized until March.

Social workers at the meeting expressed the importance of developing social work-specific grants, noting that they help social workers understand MCH social work practice, so they can be strong participants in interprofessional practice with other health professions, Zlotnik said.

The NASW West Virginia Chapter in August was selected by the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources to participate in the state’s Social Work Study committee as it relates to caseload standards. State law requires the DHHR to convene groups of employees to review current caseload sizes and to make recommendations.

The West Virginia Chapter will select social work study committee members from each of the state’s four geographic regions and the central office of the state’s DHHR.

Similar initiatives will look at paraprofessional health and human services aides as well as child support enforcement and eligibility workers.

After an anticipated 18-month study, recommendations will be issued, said Samuel Hickman, executive director of the NASW West Virginia Chapter.