Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW
Social workers have made a tremendous impact on improving the delivery of health and human services and advancing the profession through advocacy. During the pandemic, NASW has used its voice to ensure the policies and programs prioritized on behalf of the profession, social work clients and communities in greatest need are not neglected.
The coronavirus has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities, oppression and poverty. It has impeded access to employment, food and other resources—with particular effects on our most at-risk populations. Social workers are counteracting these societal ailments by demonstrating heroic work on the front lines and putting into action the values articulated in the Code of Ethics. We have also learned to maximize our utility by removing regulatory barriers on the modes and scope of social work practice. Above all, the pandemic has demanded — and revealed — social workers’ resilience, creativity and flexibility.
NASW believes the profession’s obligation to provide care for our clients during the pandemic is tied to an equal obligation from organizations, state and federal governments, and public health authorities to prioritize social worker safety and access to resources. For this reason, we continue to advocate on behalf of social workers for PPE, recognition as essential workers, and priority access to vaccines.
At the federal and state levels, NASW achieved several important policy successes in 2020. These include regulatory flexibility for telehealth, including audio-only telehealth; and place-of-service waivers, which improved reimbursement for providers of mental health telehealth — and thereby client access. We have taken first steps to make current telehealth provisions permanent.
NASW also advocates for social workers to have financial support to attend social work school, access to loan-repayment programs, and help with advancing their education and training. We support policies that affect social workers and their work environment, such as workplace violence prevention legislation.
NASW keeps abreast of key issues Congress and the Biden Administration are discussing, and we develop strategies to ensure the social work voice is represented during policy deliberations on health and social care delivery, client outcomes, social work workforce development, and other issues of concern to the profession. Grassroots campaigns through our state chapters are central to these efforts.
NASW recently released its 2021 Blueprint of Federal Social Policy Priorities, outlining urgently needed policy solutions in 21 issue areas. COVID-19 has affirmed the essential role social workers play during emergencies and highlighted our skills and flexibility. NASW believes social workers’ resilience, leadership, and voice against injustice and inequity will help the nation recover from the pandemic.
Together, we can help build a more inclusive and equitable new normal.
Contact Angelo McClain at firstname.lastname@example.org