By Rena Malai, News staff
NASW co-hosted a Capitol Hill briefing with the Congressional Social Work Caucus in October to discuss the challenges of helping children in the child welfare system.
Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of the NASW Social Work Policy Institute, moderated the briefing, titled “Children at Risk: Optimizing Health in an Era of Reform.”
Rep. Edolphus “Ed” Towns, D-N.Y., who created the Social Work Caucus last year, gave the welcome remarks.
“This is a very important session,” said Towns, who is also a social worker. “Children are 25 percent of our total population, but they are 100 percent our future.”
The speakers were Janet Schneiderman, research associate professor at the USC School of Social Work; Sarah Zlotnik, senior strategist at PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and Bryan Samuels, commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The speakers discussed the importance of addressing the emotional, behavioral, psychological and physical health needs of children in the child welfare system to improve their outcomes.
Samuels said while it is necessary to transition children out of the system, the trauma they may face from their experiences often are not sufficiently addressed.
“My goal (in this briefing) is to give an alternative understanding to the challenges in child welfare,” Samuels said. “I’m out every day to try to get people to take a step back and look at the approaches that will take us to a better outcome when it comes to children’s access to health care.”
Levy Zlotnik said recommendations to Congress from the briefing include encouraging health care and child welfare systems to collaborate to ensure that children and youth in foster care have greater access to high-quality health and behavioral health care, and ensuring a more qualified interdisciplinary workforce when it comes to dealing with children accessing health care through the child welfare system.
“This briefing is an example of how cross-system and cross-disciplinary knowledge is essential,” she said.
From the January 2013 NASW News. NASW members click here for the full story.