Social Workers to Testify in Congress on the Role of Social Work in a Changing America

Jul 28, 2008

For Immediate Release
July 28, 2008Contact:
NASW Government Relations
Elizabeth Franklin
202-408-8600 x537

NASW Communications
Gail Woods Waller

Healthy Families and Communities Subcommittee hearing on July 29 to examine how the nation’s social workers can best meet the changing needs of American families

Washington—A Congressional hearing, “Caring for the Vulnerable: The State of Social Work in America,” is scheduled for Tuesday, July 29 at 3:00 EST in the Committee Hearing Room of the 2175 Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. The hearing is convened by the Healthy Families and Communities Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee, and is chaired by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4)

Several social work leaders will give Subcommittee Members an overview of the profession’s history, services, clients, research and education. Speakers include: Gary Bailey, MSW, ACSW, Associate Professor, Simmons College Graduate School of Social Work, Boston, MA; Michael Bird, MSW, Public Health Consultant, Albuquerque, NM; Rene Bergeron, PhD, Associate Professor of Social Work, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH; Adina Fuller, LGSW, Social Worker, Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, Washington, DC; and Robin Mama, PhD, Dean of the School of Social Work, Monmouth University, Monmouth, NJ. In addition, Rev. Sarah Wells, the Executive Director of Good Samaritan Ministries in Johnson City, TN will provide testimony about the growing need for social services in her community.

Selected Remarks:

Gary Bailey: “Social workers have long been society’s safety net for a broad range of issues, including child welfare, mental and behavioral health, aging, corrections, health, and military and veterans services. The public will suffer from a lack of critical services, especially in the areas of aging and child welfare, if schools of social work cannot recruit young professionals and if we do not retain experienced social workers.”

Robin Mama: “Recruitment is the biggest challenge facing undergraduate social work programs. Many people, especially parents, are under the impression that social workers only help the poor and take abused children away from their families—and that social workers do not make livable salaries. All academic social work programs work hard to change these perceptions, but continued public education about the profession is essential.

Michael Bird: “Social workers have an ethical responsibility to pursue social change, particularly with, and on behalf of, vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social workers believe that strengths can be found in every culture, and that building on these strengths is the best way to help clients reach their full potential. There is great value in reflecting the populations we serve in our profession as well. When every voice is present at the table, more informed decisions can be made and the community can be more fully served.”

Rene Bergeron: “Knowing what changes in behavior and social factors contribute to the effective functioning of clients and the efficiency of programs that serve them is paramount. Social work researchers conduct outcome studies to determine if practice approaches are as efficient and effective as they should or could be. Practice must inform research, and research similarly informs practice. Social work research has and must continue to help develop programs that improve the daily lives of citizens from all social classes.”


United States Representative Carolyn McCarthy is currently serving her 6th term representing Long Island’s 4th Congressional District. She was recently named Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities, and serves as a senior member of the Committee on Education and Labor, as well as the Committee on Financial Services.

Additional information about the July 29 social work hearing is available through the House Education and Labor Committee at 202-226-0853.

About the National Association of Social Workers
NASW is the largest association of social workers in the world, with nearly 150,000 members in 56 chapters throughout the United States and abroad. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.�

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