Public Policy News – July 2021
Darla Spence Coffey, PhD, MSW, met with Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) leaders. Coffey met with leaders at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Office of Minority Health. She highlighted the importance of supporting social and behavioral health research and social justice efforts, including the need to address health disparities and reduce the disparate outcomes of the current and future public health crises. Coffey also noted that social workers in academia and in practice conduct research to develop an evidence base for effective social service programs to address the complex needs of a diverse population. The meetings touched on the importance of community-based training and enhancing partnerships with federally qualified health centers, the need to diversify across health professions to expand cultural competency in health care, and the potential for future collaborations between HHS and schools and programs of social work.
The inaugural CSWE-SSWR-GADE Doctoral Student Policy Forum, co-sponsored by CSWE, the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR), and the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE), informed doctoral students about how their research experience and background can be used to influence and inform government policy.
Speakers included Keith Chan, PhD, LMSW, a former CSWE Minority Fellow and Hartford Doctoral Fellow, now an assistant professor at Hunter College. Chan is a congressional fellow on the U.S House Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Health, through the Health and Aging Policy Fellows program. Other speakers included Emma Mehrabi, MSW, director of poverty policy at the Children’s Defense Fund and former legislative director for Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA); and Chris McCarthy, LMSW, who works in the office of Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) focusing on immigration and immigrant rights, constituent services, and working with the community to identify policy responses to local issues.
Two high-level nominees for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were confirmed by the Senate. Dawn O’Connell will serve as assistant secretary for preparedness and response, and Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon will become assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, responsible for directing the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Ms. O’Connell was previously HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra’s senior counselor for COVID-19, and Dr. Delphin-Rittmon was the commissioner of Connecticut State Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The full Senate confirmation came after the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee voted overwhelmingly (20-2) to back both nominees.
Think Cultural Health is a free accredited e-learning program sponsored by the Office of Minority Health (OMH) that offers continuing education opportunities and resources to help health-care professionals increase their cultural and linguistic competency. This program is approved for 4–5.5 contact hours over four courses. Read the CSWE Spark post for more information.