In 2011 the Congressional Social Work Caucus (CSWC) was founded by Congressman Edolphus Towns, representative of New York’s 10th District. The Caucus originally had 34 members, including both social workers and individuals interested in social welfare and social justice issues. The purpose of the CSWC was and still is:
”to create a platform on the Hill representing the interests of over 600,000 social workers throughout the United States who positively impact the lives of the elderly, the disadvantaged, children, veterans, or other individuals in need of guidance and direction in their lives. Every day social workers help people find solutions to poverty, divorce, addiction, emotional distress and other psychological and social issues, yet they often face a host of workforce challenges such as low salaries, high educational debt, and safety concerns. The Congressional Social Work Caucus will put a spotlight on the dedicated work of social workers in child welfare agencies, health clinics and outpatient healthcare settings, mental health clinics, schools, government agencies, social service agencies, private practice, criminal justice environments, and many more arenas in the public and private sectors.”
Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Charles Lewis, Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director for Congressman Towns (and Social Work Ph.D) at the Nancy A. Humphrey’s Institute for Political Social Work’s Campaign School. It was a great experience to get to know the ins and outs of the Social Work Caucus from an insider, but most importantly it was great to hear of the progress the Social Work Caucus had made in a single year. They had tackled many issues and gained membership to around 69 bipartisan members. You can see an overview of 2012 for CSWC at this link.
Now, with the new election this past November, Congressman Towns has left office and the Social Work Caucus has a new leader and new defined direction and goals. The 113th Congress’ CSWC will officially be relaunched at 4:3opm EST today, Thursday 3/14 so, without further ado, let’s meet the Congressional Social Work Caucus of the 113th Congress!
Barbara Lee, Representative of California’s 13th district has taken over leadership of the CSWC. Barbara Lee is a social worker and has been an elected Congresswoman since 1998. She has served as Chair of both the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus, making her a perfect candidate to take over the CSWC. In addition to Lee, many of the Congress’ 9 other Social Workers are part of the 113th CSWC, as are many other members of Congress. Check the list out and see if your representatives are a part for CSWC, and if not maybe you could urge them to be involved!
The 113th congress has the below areas of interest in mind for their time in office:
- Initiate and support legislation to address the unique challenges and opportunities for professional social workers.
- Monitor and evaluate programs and legislation designed to assist and support individuals, families, and communities at all income levels who are coping with economic, social and health problems, particularly those with limited resources.
- Provide Congressional staff members with educational tools and resources directed toward improving the social work profession and the people social workers serve.
- Assist in education and awareness efforts on the breadth and scope of the social work profession.
It is with pleasure the SJS welcomes the new CSWC of the 113th Congress! We hope to see some great work from them on behalf of social workers and those we serve.
If you would like to sign up for their newsletter please visit this site. Please note that their site is still under construction as they change leadership!
Written by Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer