NASW Statement on Senator Edward Kennedy’s Death

Aug 27, 2009

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is deeply saddened by the death of United States Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), who after a year-long battle with brain cancer, died this week. Sen. Kennedy has been a champion for many social policies of significance to social workers and their clients throughout his tenure in the Senate of more than 40 years.

Two of the cornerstones of the social work profession are social justice and advocacy on behalf of individuals and families whose voices otherwise would not have been heard. Sen. Kennedy’s commitment to social justice mirrored the core values of social work and will be greatly missed.  NASW extends condolences to Sen. Kennedy’s family, friends and all who will feel the void from his absence including the millions of individuals who have benefited from his decades of service.

Sen. Kennedy’s influence can be found in some of the most important legislation of our time, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Ryan White CARE Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and most recently the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, Wellstone/Domenici Mental Health and Addiction Parity Act of 2008 and the Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009. Even while dealing with his own cancer struggle, Sen. Kennedy introduced a bipartisan cancer reform bill, the 21st Century Cancer ALERT (Access to Life-Saving Early detection, Research and Treatment) Act to address cancer research, treatment and preventative services.  Sen. Kennedy has fought unrelentingly for policies that affect social workers in their work with individuals and families every day. His tenacity and passion to bring a better healthcare system to America never wavered, even in the face of partisan opposition and political backlash.

As our government works to reform our health care system, let us remember the great lengths that Sen. Kennedy and others have gone to fight for equal opportunity and fairness for all. Sen. Kennedy has called universal healthcare the “cause of his life” and he will certainly be remembered in the social work community for his tireless work to bring our country a step closer to reaching this goal. NASW will continue to support Sen. Kennedy’s ideal that all individuals have the right to affordable, accessible, and high-quality health care and as a fitting tribute asks all NASW members to contact their members of Congress in support of universal healthcare.

Contact: Elizabeth Franklin
(202) 408-8600 x537

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