ANSWER Coalition Outlines Goals, Greets New Chair

The Action Network for Social Work Education and Research (ANSWER) Coalition met in October at NASW to welcome a new member organization and to outline goals for the upcoming year.

Susan Kosche VallemThe group, which works to increase legislative and executive branch advocacy on behalf of social work education, training and research, also greeted Susan Kosche Vallem as the new ANSWER Coalition convener.

Vallem is the policy and advocacy chair of the Association of Baccalaureate Program Directors (BPD) and the chair of the Social Work Department at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Her term as convener will expire in November 2012. The coalition thanked previous convener Jeane Anastas for her service to the group. Anastas, a professor at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work, is now president-elect of NASW.

Vallem said the coalition met with a representative from the staff of U.S. Rep. Edolphus “Ed” Towns, D-N.Y., who discussed how the congressman will continue his strong support for passage of the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act, HR 795/S 686.

Vallem said the bill is expected to be reintroduced in the 112th Congress if the current Congress fails to pass the proposal.

The ANSWER Coalition assisted lawmakers in drafting the act that seeks to establish a Social Work Reinvestment Commission. It would advise Congress and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on policy issues associated with the profession. It would also authorize HHS to make grants that support recruitment, retention, research and reinvestment in the profession.

The ANSWER Coalition also plans to focus its energy on passage of the Teri Zenner Social Work Safety Act, HR 1490, Vallem said. The act seeks the establishment of a state grant program that would provide safety measures to social workers and other professionals working with violent, at-risk populations. It is named after Kansas social worker Teri Zenner, who was killed by a client in 2004.

“Social work reinvestment and safety are common goals of the coalition and we plan to strengthen our efforts by speaking with one voice,” Vallem said. “We also plan to support other advocacy efforts promoted by NASW and CSWE [the Council on Social Work Education], who are both members of the coalition.”

It was announced at the meeting that the National Association of Black Social Workers has joined the coalition.

“We welcome the National Association of Black Social Workers and we’re delighted to have them as part of our group,” Vallem said.

NASW and CSWE government relations staff also updated members on the latest advocacy efforts supported by the groups.

Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of the NASW Foundation’s Social Work Policy Institute, discussed the accomplishments of the institute’s one-year anniversary and its recent symposium report, “Hospice Social Work: Linking Policy, Practice and Research.”

Other coalition members in attendance offered updates to their respective organization as well.

Besides BPD, CSWE, NABSW, NASW and SWPI, other members of the ANSWER Coalition are: the Group for the Advancement of Doctorial Education; the National Association of Deans and Directors Schools of Social Work; and the Society for Social Work and Research.