August 24, 2020
About Social Work Responds
The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) are committed to collaborating on the range of issues affecting the social work profession and the people and communities we serve.
On August 14, the Social Work Leadership Roundtable hosted a Town Hall on Racial Equity on Facebook Live. The two-hour program featured leaders from all areas of social work to focus on how racism impacts practice, education, and regulation. Representatives from the National Association of Black Social Workers, NASW, CSWE, ASWB, BPD, NADD, SSWR, GADE and AASWSW addressed their anti-racism work and fielded dozens of questions from attendees. Watch the recording by using this link: https://www.facebook.com/naswsocialworkers/videos/777132846159200/
For decades, ASWB has used a rigorous, multistep process to guard against bias in creating the social work licensing exams. Measuring competence fairly, a new page on the association’s website, provides information about how the examination development process ensures fairness.
Each One Register One
“Your vote is precious. Almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union,” said the late civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis in 2012.
On November 3, just 10 weeks from now, Americans have the opportunity to exercise one of their most sacred rights: voting. On Election Day, millions of people, including immigrants who have fought hard for citizenship and the precious right to vote, will go to the polls. They will express their choice not just for the next president, but for numerous other offices including Congress (35 U.S. Senate seats and all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives). In 11 states and two territories, Americans will have the opportunity to vote for governor, and in 44 states, they will have the opportunity to vote for state legislators.
Candidates include, importantly, social workers. This includes three members of the U.S. House who are seeking reelection: Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) and Barbara Lee (D-CA). A number of social workers are running for state legislative seats.
Elected officials not only make laws, they also appoint those who serve on regulatory boards—including social work regulatory boards. And those appointed to regulatory boards themselves engage in policy making, legislative change, and public protection.
Social workers, with their ethical obligation to “facilitate informed participation by the public in shaping social policies and institutions,” play a crucial role in engaging individuals and communities in this crucial process in our nation’s democracy. Think of the millions of people whom social workers collectively reach every day. It is not hard to see the impact if each one of America’s 700,000+ social workers commits to register at least one other person to vote.
At a micro level
Social workers in numerous clinical practice settings, including but not limited to mental health clinics and community agencies, are uniquely positioned to drive voter registration and mobilization. Given that many in the profession serve populations with lower rates of voter participation, social workers are uniquely positioned to engage these communities in this crucial process in our nation’s democracy. Social workers employed by federal agencies also can play an important role in voter engagement. Although the Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from advocating for specific candidates or parties, employees are permitted to ask colleagues and clients if they are registered to vote.
At a mezzo level
In baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs of social work, students and faculty have opportunities to not just encourage their colleagues and classmates to register. At a mezzo practice level, these efforts can mobilize an entire student body or large numbers of faculty and administrators to register to vote. For example, at Philander Smith College, the Voter Education and Empowerment Project seeks to encourage students to address voter suppression, particularly concerning voter registration and voter ID laws; barriers surrounding absentee voting; voter schedules and disillusionment; and voting rights restoration for those currently in Arkansas jails. The program received CSWE Policy Practice and Field Education grant funding to pursue this project.
At a macro level
Now think about the implications for democracy if, on a daily basis, each social worker encouraged one person to register to vote, and those individuals did the same. This could translate exponentially into millions of people registering to vote, with transformative impacts for years to come.
While November 3 may seem far away, we, our clients, and our communities need to keep more pressing deadlines in mind right now: voter registration. Although in some states registration is possible on Election Day, in many states registration is required weeks in advance. To find your state’s deadline, go to https://www.vote.org/voter-registration-deadlines/
Let’s work together to ensure that everyone’s voices can be heard this November.
To quote former President Barack Obama, “Don’t boo. Vote.”
How We Can Help
Vacancies on regulatory boards often go unfilled for extended periods because of a lack of licensed volunteers. If you’re interested in using your macro muscles as well as your vote, ASWB encourages you to volunteer to serve on your social work regulatory board or as a public member on another professional regulatory board.
The Voting is Social Work campaign has resources specifically designed to help students, field directors, faculty, and programs register voters in time to participate in this year’s elections. CSWE supports this program and encourages anyone to visit www.votingissocialwork.org for more information and tools.
NASW provides extensive resources on voter engagement at https://www.socialworkers.org/Advocacy/Social-Justice/Increasing-Voter-Participation