August 16, 2018 Compass
CSWE and the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) agreed 2 years ago to collaborate on legislative advocacy efforts to raise the profile of social work, social work education, and social work research. Each year the leadership of the two organizations meets with representatives of Congress and/or federal agencies to build relationships and promote social work and social work research.
In July Dr. Darla Spence Coffey, CSWE president and CEO, and Dr. Brian Perron met with representatives from the National Institutes of Health and other federal funding agencies based in Washington, DC, to raise the profile of the profession and highlight how social workers address social challenges through research and education. Perron, a professor of social work at the University of Michigan and former board member of SSWR, was appointed by SSWR President Dr. Ruth Dunkle to attend. The meetings offered a great opportunity to highlight the wide range of research and service delivery contexts social workers engage in, build and strengthen relationships with federal funding agencies, and emphasize the breadth and impact of the social work profession.
On July 16 the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine held the first meeting of the Committee on Integrating Social Needs Care into the Delivery of Health Care to Improve the Nation’s Health
. The committee invited presentations from several stakeholders, including CSWE President and CEO Dr. Darla Spence Coffey. Coffey spoke on the importance of addressing social determinants of health; the need for a workforce to address these needs; and the role of social workers in providing holistic, patient-centered, and community-based care. The committee also invited presentations from Angelo McClain, CEO of the National Association of Social Workers; and Sara Bachman, director of the Center for Innovation in Social Work and Health at the Boston University School of Social Work. The committee will host a second meeting
on September 24.
On July 30 the co-chairs of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, Representatives John Katko (R-NY) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA), introduced the Mental Health Professionals Workforce Shortage Loan Relief Act of 2018 (HR 6597). The bipartisan legislation would create a loan repayment program for mental health professionals, including social workers, who complete service in mental health workforce shortage areas, giving students pursuing mental health careers an incentive to work in underserved areas. Along with other national organizations dedicated to strengthening access to mental health services, CSWE recently signed on to the Mental Health Liaison Group’s letter of support addressed to Representatives Katko and Napolitano. The letter mentions social workers and states, “this legislation is a vital step in addressing our nation’s dire shortage of mental health professionals and reducing the unmet mental health treatment gap for Americans across the lifespan.”
The House of Representatives adjourned for August recess the week of July 27, leaving behind several pieces of pending legislation. The Senate, however, has foregone its typical August recess and will work 3 weeks this month on items such as the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and myriad funding bills to keep the federal government operating into the new fiscal year.
The Senate is expected to consider the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies funding bill the second week of August. The bill includes funding for several programs important to social work education, including student aid and health professions programs such as the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training program. It will probably be paired with the FY 2019 Department of Defense funding bill, which may help gain backing from supporters of domestic programs and defense spending.
The Senate will probably continue efforts to finalize a legislative package to combat the nation’s opioid crisis, but it’s unclear whether the vote on a final opioid bill will come before Labor Day. The House successfully advanced a package of opioid response bills last month.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has been busy advancing the Trump Administration’s regulatory agenda. On July 31, ED announced it will host public hearings and establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to evaluate regulations under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. Stakeholders will be invited to meet, discuss, and develop proposed regulations. ED will accept written comments on the negotiating committee’s agenda through September 14, 2018.
The rulemaking committee will develop revisions to the current regulations governing the department’s recognition of accrediting agencies. Topics for negotiation would include
• requirements for accrediting agencies in their oversight of member institutions;
• requirements for accrediting agencies to honor institutional mission;
• criteria used by the secretary to recognize accrediting agencies, emphasizing criteria that focus on educational quality;
• developing a single definition for measuring and reporting job placement rates; and
• simplifying ED's process for recognition and review of accrediting agencies.
CSWE has been vigorously involved in demonstrating the crucial role played by programmatic accreditors in ensuring the professional preparation of future social work graduates. CSWE will submit comments on the negotiating committee’s agenda to ED.
On June 8 the Department of Commerce posted a Federal Register notice
soliciting feedback from the public on the proposed changes to the 2020 Decennial Census, including the introduction of a question on citizenship. CSWE and SSWR are deeply concerned that this question has not been vetted for its impact and will lead to a reduced response rate. The function of the census, according to the Constitution, is to count every person, not every citizen. Introducing this question without researching the impact demonstrates a shocking lack of scientific rigor.
A reduced response rate and inaccurate data would render the census relatively meaningless for research, representation, and resource distribution purposes. In October 2017, Commerce estimated the cost of executing the 2020 Census at $15.6 billion. Census Bureau data in fiscal year 2015 supported 132 federal programs worth $675 billion dollars, covering everything from health care and education to public safety and infrastructure. This projected cost allocation depends on accurate data. Data from the survey are also used to help make informed decisions regarding economic planning, workforce projections, and income and poverty estimates.
In a nontraditional move, Commerce has not yet made public the nearly 80,000 comments submitted. When they do, the CSWE and SSWR letter will be available at Regulations.Gov
On August 2 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Advisory Council held its 64th meeting
. Noteworthy topics included enhancing SAMHSA’s support of a strong pipeline of behavioral health professionals in light of the nation’s opioid crisis, involving stakeholders to raise awareness about Serious Mental Illness issues, leveraging recommendations by the Federal Commission on School Safety, and finalizing SAMHSA’s 4-year strategic plan as required by the 21st Century Cures Act. The new Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Mental Health at SAMHSA, Arne Owens
, facilitated the discussion. Owens highlighted general behavioral health workforce challenges and expressed SAMHSA’s desire to offer more support, while acknowledging that the Health Resources and Services Administration’s primary role in preparing the future workforce. Several meeting participants mentioned the need to build national awareness of SMI issues, highlighting the stakeholder community’s critical role in accomplishing this goal. Another key theme was integration of mental health services in schools and anticipation of the school safety commission’s recommendations.
On August 1, President Trump nominated
Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier
to serve as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The Trump Administration took nearly twice as long as any other modern administration to appoint an individual to this role. Informally, the OSTP director is the chief science advisor. Droegemeier is a faculty member of the University of Oklahoma’s School of Meteorology, where he has been the vice president for research since 2009. His research focus is predicting extreme storms. A well-respected scientist in the academic community, Droegemeier has served on the National Science Board, the committee that advises the National Science Foundation. He was appointed to that position by President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. The higher education advocacy community has largely expressed support of the nomination.