CSWE Participates in Congressional Advocacy Meetings
CSWE Signs Letter Supporting Social Determinants Bill
Through its Public Policy Initiative, CSWE recently reconnected with long-time social work champions, including the office of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Social Work Caucus, and introduced CSWE to new champions such as Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus. Meetings also took place with the offices of Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Tom Cole (R-OK), Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), co-sponsors of the Social Determinants Accelerator Act, to express support for legislation that would recognize and address social determinants of health. On the Senate side, CSWE representatives met with the offices of Senators Cardin (D-MD) and Reed (D-RI).
CSWE joined several organizations in signing on to the Mental Health Liaison Group’s letter in support of the UNDERSTAND Act (S. 1323), sponsored by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Bob Casey (D-PA). The bipartisan bill would gather data on social determinants of health by requiring Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program providers to use ICD-10 Z-codes to track trends between social determinants and various health issues. The goal of the bill is to gather new data to influence future policymaking regarding social determinants of health.
The U.S. House Committee on Financial Services recently held a hearing, “A $1.5 Trillion Crisis: Protecting Student Borrowers and Holding Student Loan Servicers Accountable.” Student loan debt has been a topic of concern for many policymakers. As part of its regular advocacy, CSWE encourages increased support for student aid and maintenance and improvement of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. During the hearing, several members of Congress argued that the cost of college was the fundamental issue driving the student loan crisis. Hearing witness Seth Frotman, executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center, noted, “The student debt crisis is a consumer protection crisis because too many for too long have allowed predatory players to have near free reign to prey on the struggle of student loan borrowers.” Substantive changes to student loans will require a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). CSWE’s principles for an HEA reauthorization are available here.
While Congress continues to struggle to advance legislation concerning gun violence, the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee recently held a hearing, "The Importance of Trauma-Informed Practices in Education to Assist Students Impacted by Gun Violence and Other Adversities." Members of Congress and witnesses discussed various issues including toxic stress; adverse childhood experiences; the impact of poverty, violence, and trauma on students and teachers; and the importance of early detection, among other issues. Dr. Ingrida Baker, associate superintendent of McDowell County Schools, spoke about the challenge of funding positions that can support trauma-informed practices. She noted, “We should not have to choose [between] helping students to learn and do math and hiring nurses, mental health therapists and social workers.” With competing political and legislative priorities, it is unlikely that significant policies devoted to addressing gun violence and trauma-informed practices will advance.
Dr. Darla Spence Coffey, CSWE president and CEO, and CSWE Director of Accreditation Dr. Mary Kurfess recently met with senior leadership at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss social work education, programmatic accreditation, mental health in higher education, student aid, and graduate education, among other issues. Meeting with federal agencies helps raise the profile of social work education and CSWE and gives CSWE information about agency priorities. ED communicated the desire to create latitude within accreditation and to provide accreditors the space to innovate. CSWE offered to serve as a resource for ED.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is seeking Systems for Action (S4A) proposals that would better align and coordinate between medical, social services, and public health systems, with the goal of increased health equity and better health outcomes. Public entities and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply, and applications including social workers are encouraged. RWJF is funding four awards of up to $500,000 for a 3-year period. Applications are due by November 6.