CSWE Meeting Addresses Profession’s Sustainability

Dawn HobdyJoan Levy ZlotnikJoan Levy Zlotnik, left, and Dawn Hobdy, right, were among NASW staff at the CSWE conference in Portland, Ore.

“Promoting Sustainability in Social Work” was the theme of the Council on Social Work Education’s 56th annual program meeting in Portland, Ore.

The October event featured presentations by NASW staff as well as an NASW Press exhibitor booth.

Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of the NASW Foundation’s Social Work Policy Institute, presented “Enhancing the Child Welfare Workforce: A View from Washington” to more than 100 attendees who specialize in child welfare.

She highlighted policy and legislative updates as they relate to child welfare at the federal level, especially those relevant to child welfare workforce issues.

For example, Zlotnik noted that the Fostering Connections Act, which was passed into law in 2008, provides increased access to use of Title IV-E short-term training funds for current or prospective relative guardians, private child welfare agencies, judges, attorneys, guardians ad litem and other court-appointed special advocates.

The federal match for these new efforts started at 55 percent in 2009; it increases 5 percentage points a year until it reaches 75 percent in 2013 and remains at that rate thereafter. Title IV-E is the major source of federal funding for educating and training the child welfare workforce.

Zlotnik outlined child welfare provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that was passed into law in 2010. She also highlighted bills that were introduced in the 111th Congress that deal with child welfare and the workforce. They included:

  • The Child Welfare Workforce Improvement Act, S. 2837.
  • The Teri Zenner Social Worker Safety Act, HR 1490.
  • The Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act, HR 795/S 686.

“We wanted to point out to attendees that, in particular, passage of the Social Work Reinvestment Act is vital since it encompasses all areas related to the social work workforce,” Zlotnik said. “The entire workforce is facing a severe shortage in coming years.”

The director highlighted other NASW efforts in improving child welfare, including being an active member of the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths and the National Child Abuse Coalition.

“Our interest involves the whole array of child welfare services and the value that professional social workers bring to them, stressing the importance of people getting an education to work in child welfare,” Zlotnik said.

At the conference, it was noted that the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau at the Administration for Children and Families, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recently announced the availability of a [Toolkit for Child Welfare Trainers]. Attendees were told the development of the toolkit included input from faculty at schools of social work in BSW and MSW programs.

Zlotnik also led a presentation about the accomplishments and ongoing efforts of SWPI and its goal of enhancing research, practice and policy connections to develop research- and evidence-based practices.

“There was a lot of enthusiasm for this,” Zlotnik said. “People realize there is a need to use information to help form policy, and part of the value of SWPI is linking together people from practice, research, policy, administration and education.”

Dawn Hobdy, manager of the NASW Office of Ethics and Professional Review, joined Allan Barsky, professor at the School of Social Work at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., in presenting “Educating Students to Reduce Misconduct and Promote the Highest Standards of Practice.” Barsky also serves on the NASW Ethics Committee.

“We focused on presenting practical tools that students and novice social workers can incorporate into their everyday practice to help them avoid the most common ethical mistakes that can lead to ethics complaints being filed,” Hobdy said. The presentation offered case studies and scenarios that typically involve newer social workers. Their presentation provided insight into BSW/MSW programs’ ethics curricula.

“We provided faculty in the BSW and MSW programs with some teaching tools they can use to provide students with strategies to avoid ethical issues such as boundary violations, privacy, confidentiality and other ethical breaches,” Hobdy said. “We also offered insight into corrective measures if a violation occurs.

“We enjoyed a large turnout for the session and received positive feedback,” Hobdy continued. “Some attendees commented that the information exchanged was current and that the recommendations were practical.”

Sharon Fletcher, marketing manager for NASW Press, joined Lisa O’Hearn, managing editor of NASW Press Journals and Books, in hosting the NASW Press exhibit at the CSWE conference.

NASW Press showcased its latest and recurring book and journal titles. “This gives attendees an opportunity to browse our expansive collection,” Fletcher said. “Exhibiting at the CSWE conference provided a one-stop shop for attendees to see what is new at the Press. We also hosted book signings with some of the NASW Press authors.”

She added: “The book sales were excellent. We sold out a majority of our titles.”

Having a presence at the conference inspires communication among authors and publishers as well, Fletcher said.

Soojung Kim, a manager with the Korea Association of Social Workers who served a professional exchange program at NASW’s national office in 2010, attended the conference in Oregon.

She said she listened to several presentations and was inspired by the theme of developing ways to sustain and enhance the social work profession. She noted that Zlotnik’s presentation on SWPI was well received by attendees. “They were impressed that there are efforts to connect research with field practice,” Kim said.

Other NASW leaders attending the conference included: NASW’s president, James J. Kelly; the association’s president-elect, Jeane Anastas; former NASW president and current president of the International Federation of Social Workers, Gary Bailey; and NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark.