NASW Advocacy – News from the Hill Sept 2009

Video: Can We Live up to the Social Work Legacy?

Please take a moment to view a video NASW just recorded for you regarding the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act (H.R. 795/ S.686. This legislation is a first step to address serious workforce challenges such as low salaries, high educational debt, and safety concerns and will determine the best course of action to strengthen our profession. The bill is important to all social workers, and in this brief video we explain why leaders like Frances Perkins, Dorothy Height, and Whitney Young provide lessons for us to learn from and a legacy we must continue. NASW hopes we can count on our fellow social workers to stand up for our profession as we have always stood up for our clients.

NASW Attends Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference

On September 13-15 NASW attended the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Conference. On September 23-26, NASW attended the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference (ALC). The Public Policy Conference and the ALC featured issue forums that focused on issues ranging from poverty and economic issues to housing, health and veterans.

HHS Secretary Sebelius Announces Senate Confirmation of Carmen Nazario as Assistant Secretary for Children and Families

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the United States Senate unanimously confirmed social worker Carmen Nazario as Assistant Secretary for Children and Families. In that role, she will oversee the Administration for Children and Families within HHS.

“Carmen Nazario has a distinguished record of more than 40 years working in human services at every level of government, as well as in the private and non-profit sectors,” said Secretary Sebelius.  “She has devoted her career to developing and implementing programs that promote the well-being of children and families, and she will build on that important work as Assistant Secretary for Children and Families.”

Until her recent nomination, Assistant Secretary Nazario was an Assistant Professor at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, where she taught social policy and coordinated the Social Work Practicum at the School of Social Work.  Nazario has vast experience in public service with a focus on improving services to children and families within the United States and around the world, dating back to 1968.  From January 2003 – December 2008, she served as Administrator of the Administration for Children and Families for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, where she led an agency of 4,000 staff with a budget of over $220 million.  Prior to that, she served as the Senior Resident Investigator for the Jordan Poverty Alleviation Program, where she developed and implemented a national poverty reduction strategy for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and advised leaders in the nation on the delivery of social services.  During the Clinton Administration, she first served as Associate Commissioner for Child Care in the Administration on Children, Youth and Families and later became the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF).  Nazario joined the Clinton Administration after serving as Secretary of Health and Social Services for the State of Delaware from 1993-1997, and, prior to that, she was the Director of Social Services in Norfolk, Virginia, and Loudon County, Virginia.  Nazario has held a number of national leadership roles, including Vice President of the Board of Directors of the American Public Welfare Association, President of the National Council of Local Public Welfare Administrators, and Secretary of the National Council of State Human Service Administrators.  Nazario is from Bayamon, Puerto Rico.  She received a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico in 1967, and was awarded her Master of Social Work degree from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work in 1973.

Step up for Kids Week

NASW worked with the Every Child Matters Education Fund to sponsor Step up for Kids Week October 5-9. It brought thousands of people together to show widespread public support for a shift in spending priorities towards children and families. It called upon the Administration, Congress, State Legislatures, Governors, Mayors, and local officials to make our nation’s children a top priority. Events took place on the steps of the state capitols and other appropriate venues as well as in Washington, DC. For more information on Step up for Kids Week, visit the Web site.

Summit on Child Abuse Deaths in America

NASW is a sponsor of Every Child Matters Education Fund summit on child abuse deaths in America. The three day event will include a rally on Capitol Hill and workshops at the Pew Conference Center. For more information about the summit, visit the Web site.

Health Care Reform

In September, Congress continued to work on health care reform. The Senate Finance Committee reported out a bill and the House continues to work on H.R. 3200. For more information on health care reform and NASW, Visit our Web page.

House Passes Student Aid Bill

On September 17, 2009, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 253-171, H.R. 3221, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, a massive student aid bill that some experts contend is the single largest investment in higher education in history.

Introduced on July 14, 2009 by Representative Miller (D-CA), H.R. 3221 will generate almost $100 billion in savings by ending lender subsidies to boost Pell Grant scholarships, keep interest rates on federal loans affordable, and will enact President Obama’s key initiative to get more students to enter and complete college.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • $40 billion to expand the Pell grant program which aids low income students
  • $10 billion to help community colleges increase enrollment
  • $8 billion to help states improve early learning programs for children from birth to age five
  • $2 billion for historically black colleges and universities and other minority serving institutions

These investments are paid for by cutting excessive lender subsidies from loan programs and redirecting those funds toward higher education. Similar to what President Obama proposed in his FY 2010 budget, H.R. 3221 will originate all new federal student loans through the Direct Loan program starting in 2010. Even with the controversial plan to eliminate the lender subsidies, the bill is on a fast track for passage. The Senate is preparing their own version of the bill, and both bills will need to be reconciled before they are sent to the President for his signature.

Meeting with Administration Official

NASW met with James Kvaal, Senior Director, White House National Economic Council about the role of social workers in improving education outcomes and how to strengthen social work career paths.

Meeting with Clinical Social Work Association on Common Agenda

NASW met two weeks ago with leaders of the Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA) on common agenda items, including Medicare payment reforms for inclusion in health care reform legislation. NASW and CSWA support several changes in Medicare and other sections of the health reform legislation that would adequately pay social workers to practice in covered health settings at the full scope of their training and licensure.

NASW invited to Meeting with First Lady Michelle Obama

NASW has been involved in a number of calls and meetings on health care reform including a meeting about women, families, and health care reform at the White House with First Lady Michelle Obama. See NASW Executive Director, Elizabeth Clark’s blog about the event.

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