A Dynamic Time in NYC;
A Dynamic Time at NASW
Robert Schachter, DSW, LMSW
NASW-NYC is active on no less than two major fronts: strengthening the profession and social and economic justice. It is this combination that will position the Chapter and the profession to work with the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the other recently elected government officials in NYC, as well as in the State Capital, and with Programs that employ social workers.
Mayor de Blasio’s Inspired Appointments
At a recent reception I attended to meet most of the Mayor’s appointees who will have responsibilities relating to health and human services, there was palpable anticipation and hope generated by the Mayor’s choices. At the top of his selections is Lilliam Barios-Paoli, an urban anthropologist by training, who has a deep appreciation of social work and shares the values of the profession. Dr. Barios-Paoli is now the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services
While one social worker was appointed commissioner in his administration, Donna Corrado, PhD, LCSW, at the Department for the Aging, each of the Mayor’s appointees inspires admiration, given their experience, progressive values, and history working with social workers. This includes Gladys Carrion at Children’s Services, Steve Banks at the Human Resources Administration, and Gilbert Taylor at Homeless Services. In addition, Richard Buery, the former CEO of the Children’s Aid Society, was appointed Deputy Mayor for Strategic Planning and will have responsibilities relating to implementing universal pre-K.
NASW leadership is looking forward to every opportunity to work with the new City government in addressing inequality, poverty, and injustice along with the needs of the profession so that we can be more effective at what we do.
Social Work Salaries and Debt
The campaign for equitable salaries that the Chapter launched in mid-January has generated a great deal of attention, with over 2,700 social workers and supporters signing onto the campaign as of today. Strength in numbers is crucial for the campaign to have sustainability. At the beginning of the month the New York Non-profit press, which goes out to 17,000 readers, many of whom are employers, carried a major feature on the salaries campaign, along with a focus on the impact of policy on practice.
On the Albany front in the State capitol, NASW and the Association of Deans of the Schools of Social Work brought 120 students from schools across the state to lobby for an increase in funding for the Social Work Loan Forgiveness Program, which was created in 2005. As of this writing, we are waiting to see if the Assembly puts our request into its budget bill. The Senate has already done so.
Inequality, Poverty, Social Justice and Racial Equity
As Mayor de Blasio moves forward to address inequality in the City, NASW-NYC is moving to complete a fairly comprehensive poverty toolkit with 17 briefs on poverty. What is unique about the tool kit is that it reflects the extraordinary breadth and scope of poverty in the City. As conceived of by Chapter President, Dr. Martha Sullivan, the tool kit will address poverty from both a national and city perspective, covering poverty in relation to:
|1. anti-poverty programs
2. racial disparities
6. mental health
11. communities of African descent
12. the Latino community
13. the Asian American community
14. the LGBTQ community
What is unique about the tool kit, in addition to it being accessible and useful for its brevity in each area and for the data, is the fact that it is comprehensive in showing how poverty covers so much of the landscape of the City. It is difficult for the public and media to convey and acknowledge the magnitude of this in so many people’s lives. It is the perspective of social work that captures this scope.
The Chapter will be rolling out the toolkit over the next few months. At the same time and in the months ahead, we can expect, under the leadership of President-elect Sandy Bernabei, to see a heightened focus on racial justice and racial disparities across almost every sector social workers are in.
As we look at how policies are influencing the delivery of services, including how social workers will work, we also need to be examining the needs of clients and their communities and how they will benefit, or not, from current, unfolding change. This examination ties into questions of racial equity.