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Students advocate on the Hill as part of Social Work Month

By Paul R. Pace and Laetitia Clayton, News staff

An estimated 400 social work students from more than 45 schools across the nation gathered at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in March to learn about the power of social work.

NASW CEO Angelo McClain told the students that their help was needed in urging Congress to support the Improving Access to Mental Health Act (H.R. 3712, S. 2173).

The act includes a provision to raise the rate for clinical social workers who provide Medicare services from 75 percent to 85 percent of the rate reimbursed to psychiatrists and psychologists, which is in line with reimbursement rates for other non-physician practitioners.

“Things we get done here federally have a ripple effect across the country,” McClain told attendees. “One of the things we are saying to our country is – as a profession – we do so much to make our society a better place. And we need society to take care of us.”

The students were at the nation’s capital for Student Advocacy Day, part of Social Work Day on the Hill events, which took place March 1 and 2. This year was the second year in a row for Social Work Day on the Hill, which is held during National Professional Social Work Month.

The Social Work Month theme this year was “Forging Solutions out of Challenges.”

On March 1, students heard from social work leaders and had the opportunity to attend an expert panel discussion on the Improving Access to Mental Health Act, which was introduced in October 2015 by Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. — who are all social workers.

After gaining pointers, students spent the afternoon visiting the offices of their federal representatives, urging support of the bill and explaining how social workers make a positive difference.

On March 2, the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy, or CRISP, held a Social Work and Voter Empowerment symposium at the National Press Club. The discussion focused on efforts to increase social workers’ skills and knowledge in social policy and political activity.

That afternoon, CRISP held a reception to honor Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in Congress, who will retire this year.

From the May 2016 NASW News. NASW members can read the full story here.

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