The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) on July 7, 2021, co-hosted an exclusive executive briefing with the White House which brought together key Biden-Harris Administration officials and social work leaders.
Administration officials provided a real-time update on their key priorities and successes to date including COVID-19 recovery, vaccine uptake, expanding health and mental health care coverage, plans for climate change and environmental justice and investing in the nation’s infrastructure.
Thousands of NASW members and others participated in the special briefing, where social work leaders outlined key priorities for action, many of which are reflected in the administration’s current and planned initiatives and articulated in NASW’s 2021 Blueprint of Federal Social Policy Priorities.
“Social workers have much to offer in improving and strengthening society”,” said NASW CEO Dr. Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW. “We want the Biden Administration to know we are partners in its Build Back Better and other critically needed initiatives. We stand ready to help in any way we can and offer the practice, policy and research expertise to tackle our most pressing social policy challenges.”
Administration officials in attendance included Cedric Richmond, JD, Special Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, MPP, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS, Senior Advisor and Chair of the White House COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force; David Kieve, Director of Public Engagement for the Council of Environmental Quality, and Carissa Smith with theDomestic Policy Council.
Observed CMS Administrator Brooks-LaSure, MPP “In your role as social workers, you know it’s not just about one part of the person. There are so many factors that determine whether people are living their best lives.”
Social work panelists included Michael Sherraden, PhD, MSW, Professor and Founding Director of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis; Diane Yentel, MSSW, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition; Luis Zayas, PhD, MS, Dean and Professor of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin; Lisa Reyes Mason, PhD, MSW, Associate Professor at the University of Denver, Graduate School of Social Work; and Michael Lindsey, PhD, MSW, MPH, Executive Director and Professor of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at the New York University School of Social Work; Claire Green-Forde, DSW, LCSW, Executive Director, NASW New York City Chapter and recent social work graduate, Elizabeth Antonowicz, MSW.
The panelists urged the administration to tackle issues important to the profession and the people they serve, including addressing alarming suicide rates, especially among Black youth; mental health and behavioral health access; providing relief for social workers saddled with high student loan debt; implementing a national and universal Child Development Account policy to promote asset building for all; addressing homelessness through universal housing vouchers; immigration reform, emphasizing the importance of humane, ethical and healthy treatment of children and families at the southern border; enlisting social workers to re-imagine public health and safety; interrupting the school to prison pipeline, and ending systemic racism in policing and throughout our society.
“The pandemic exacerbated many persistent vulnerabilities and inequities in our country. Specifically, it shined a glaring spotlight on racism, oppression, poverty, and voting suppression in the United States. said Mildred “Mit” Joyner, DPS, MSW, LCSW, President of NASW. “NASW and the social work profession applauds the Biden-Harris Administration for taking bold actions to address these complex issues and we stand ready to implement their agenda.”