Social Work Reinvestment Act Petition
by Courtney Kidd, LMSW
Social work is facing its watershed moment—the crucial turning point that will define our future. Six years ago, the Social Work Reinvestment Act (SWRA) was brought before Capitol Hill in an attempt to promote the need for social workers, and to address many of the concerns the profession faces. With the rejuvenated efforts of Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Senator Barbara Mikulski, as well as support from the Congressional Social Work Caucus, the SWRA is once again making its way to the hill. This time, it has some help. The Social Work Caucus, founded in 2011 by Congressman Edolphus Towns, acts as the representative for the interests of social workers on Capitol Hill. Together, these social workers on the hill are looking to help social work become a sustainable work force.
The SWRA attempts to identify and address the ongoing concerns in the social work profession, including competitive and fair wages, research, tuition assistance, and national licensing. Social workers face many challenges in the workforce, with almost 75% of graduates beginning their careers with more than $35,000 in debt, while the national mean salary for social workers is $52,000. The SWRA identifies the national shortage of trained social workers in the workforce, and addresses the direct implications that has on the population. The bill intends on launching a commission to study recruitment and retention techniques to promote the profession, relying on areas such as grants, workplace improvements, education about the profession, and perhaps most importantly, continued Congressional advocacy for social workers.
The goal is to not only reinvest in social work, but to rejuvenate it. We, at Social Justice Solutions, strive to support these first steps in promoting social workers by hosting a social worker driven petition. It is our belief that social workers hold a unique skill set that provides a vital role. In few other professions can you use these skills, combined with a code of ethics, to provide direct practice, community organizing, policy making—the list is endless to what social workers can do, but we limit ourselves by not advocating for our own needs. The social work petition provides a way for every social worker to help the efforts of the Social Work Caucus, and the SWRA. Each signature is another voice supporting the advancement of the profession.
The challenge we face is to demonstrate the need for social workers in our roles, and in turn, receive support from the community. Social workers must be at the decision-making table to be effective change agents. The SWRA Petition looks to connect our profession together in pursuing this goal. The SWRA bill is the first step for social workers to advocate for ourselves. Together, with our partners in the Congressional Research Institute of Social Work and Policy (CRISP), we hope to see social workers benefit from an increase of support within society. We look to you for aid in our venture. We look to you to make a difference. You can sign the petition at http://www.SocialWorkPetition.com.
Courtney Kidd, LMSW, is Social Justice Solutions Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer. Courtney graduated SUNY Stony Brook with her Master’s in Social Welfare, and Dowling College with a B.A. in psychology. She is currently working for the Department of Veteran Affairs, with a strong interest in military/veteran mental health. Courtney continues to work for the promotion of the social work profession and is actively involved in the NASW as the Veteran Steering Committee Chair. Her other areas of interest include policy, program development, advocacy, and systems work. Courtney can be reached at: Courtney@Socialjusticesolutions.org.