News From the Hill – January 2012

Jan 25, 2012

Political Climate

Now that the calendar has turned to 2012, the upcoming election cycle has begun to gain steam.  The Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary are behind us, Republican candidates are looking down the road at the South Carolina primary.  Pieces will begin falling into place as the President continues fundraising, the Republicans move closer to declaring a nominee, and both parties determine their general election candidates for House and Senate races.

On Capitol Hill, many incumbents are wary of passing any controversial legislation down the home stretch.  A sudden shift, even in perception or media narratives rather than substance, could potentially alter the landscape significantly.  Democrats need to gain 25 seats in order to take over the House, a number that is dwarfed by swings that took place in 2006 (in the Democrats’ favor) and 2010 (benefitting the Republicans).  Republicans, meanwhile, would need just three Senate seats in order to claim the upper chamber if they win the Presidency (since the Vice-President would cast the deciding Senate vote in cases of a 50-50 tie).

Added in to the mix is the redistricting process that always follows the Census.  As states create districts to comply with shifts in population, it is not always clear how those new seats will perform in terms of favoring one party or the other.  There are several variables to be determined over the coming year, and we are really just getting started.

Representative Gwen Moore Introduces RISE Out of Poverty Act

On December 6, 2011, Rep. Gwen Moore (WI-4) introduced the Rewriting to Improve and Secure an Exit (RISE) Out of Poverty Act, H.R. 3573. The act would focus on reducing child poverty by permanently authorizing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program as a funding stream for subsidized employment, and revise the work participation rules for families receiving cash assistance.

This legislation will improve TANF by providing an inflationary increase for TANF based on child population growth and inflation. It will lift all time limits (except the five year time limit). It will eliminate lifetime and full family sanctions and provide a pre and post sanction review process. It will guarantee child care for those engaged in work activities. In addition, it will decrease the work requirement from 30 hours to 20 hours per week. It allows for post-secondary education. Child support payments will be passed through at 100 percent. It requires states to put together basic needs plans for families. Finally, it will eliminate the 30 percent on education for states.

NASW has signed on as a supporter of this legislation. Click here to view our letter of support.  In addition, you can contact your Representative and urge them to cosponsor the legislation.  See our action alert here.

Voting Rights

United States Attorney General, Eric Holder, affirmed his commitment to protecting the right to vote and indicated that the Department of Justice will thoroughly review new state voting rights laws to determine whether they are discriminatory or in conformance with existing federal law.  NASW and other nationally recognized civil rights organizations have diligently championed the right to vote of minorities, seniors, students and the underserved. NASW believes that voting is a basic right and elections must be devoid of fraud, discrimination, and impropriety.

Further, opportunity and accessibility to polling venues should be available to all without the threat of voter suppression and intimidation. Overt examples of discrimination within the area of voting rights remain pervasive and NASW, with its progressive allies will continue efforts to redress systemic violation of voting rights.

New Study: Doctors Deficient in Reporting Child Abuse

Pediatricians and other primary care providers are good at identifying physical injuries in their young patients that might be the result of child abuse, but they are not as good at judging when to report those cases to child protective services, according to a new study, To Report or Not to Report: Examination of the Initial Primary Care Management of Suspicious Childhood Injuries, published in the November issue of Academic Pediatrics.

The study, conducted by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC), found that primary care providers fail to report a substantial number of cases of child abuse.  Using a sample of injuries drawn from previous research, the evaluation of cases made by primary care providers (PCP) in 111 injury visits were assessed by expert reviewers to validate the primary care provider’s initial decision.

The reviewers found that reporting was warranted in 13 of the 63 cases doctors chose not to report to authorities. Most of those cases involved leg fractures or bruises to the face or ear, and in six cases the physicians themselves had identified a high likelihood of abuse. This study reveals that primary care providers should pay more attention to the bruises or scratches on a child and determine if they are consistent, which would make them suspicious. It also opens up several opportunities for social workers in child welfare to improve the training of physicians as well as the diagnosis and treatment of child physical abuse in the community.

In related news, NASW is a member of the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths.  On December 13, the bi-partisan and bicameral Protect Our Kids Act (S. 1984/H.R. 3653) was introduced. This bill will create a National Commission on Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths to study and evaluate federal, state, and private child welfare systems and develop a national strategy to prevent and reduce these deaths. To sign the petition asking your members of Congress to support this legislation, click here.

Congressional Social Work Caucus

The Congressional Social Work Caucus (CSWC) is approaching the first anniversary of its creation. Support the CSWC and contact your Representative and Senators and ask them to be a member of this important caucus that creates a platform on Capitol Hill to represent the interests of social workers throughout the United States. The CSWC consists of social worker Members of Congress and those who support the social work profession and society’s social safety net.

Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act

Don’t forget to contact your Representative and Senators and ask them to support to Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act (HR1106/S686).

Advocacy Blog Roundup

Congress Extends TANF by Two Months

House Passes Extension to TANF Program

Apply Online in Spanish for Benefits

Advocacy Alert Roundup

Support the “Increased Student Achievement Through Increased Student Support Act”!

Contact Your Senator or Representative About the Violence Against Women Act

Advocacy Listserv Activity

In December, 1,395 activists sent 3,894 advocacy messages to Congress through Capwiz. The most active alert was about supporting the Violence Against Women Act. For the year, 7,620 activists sent 28,665 advocacy messages to Congress through Capwiz. The most active alert was about the Social Work Reinvestment Act. Thanks to all of you who took the time to take action.  To see all alerts, go here.

NASW Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill 2024

NASW Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill 2024

  By Rachel Boyer, MSW, LMSW Ahead of the 2024 NASW National Conference, more than 200 social workers from 36 states and one U.S. Territory attended 172 meetings with Congressional offices in both the U.S. House and Senate on June 18, 2024. The purpose of these...