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Social Work Day on the Hill
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When: 3/17/2015
2:00 to 4:00 PM
Where: Rayburn Room 3-B40
Rayburn House Office Building
Contact: Dr. Charles E. Lewis

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Former Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns, a professional social worker who represented his central Brooklyn congressional district for 30 years as a member of the House of Representatives announced today that he is organizing a day on the Hill for social workers.  The event will be held on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 with a reception planned in Room B-340 in the Rayburn House Office Building from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.  Other activities are being planned for the day.

The theme for the day will be: Engaging Congress in the Pursuit of Social Justice.  Several social work organizations are sponsoring the event that will be held in conjunction with the Congressional Social Work Caucus (CSWC) which Towns founded in 2010 during the 112th Congress.  The CSWC is currently chaired by California Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA13).  A focal point of the day will be stepping up efforts to pass the Dorothy R. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act (SWRA).

“Having a day for social workers on the Hill has been a dream of mine for a long time,” the former lawmaker acknowledged.  “This will be a day held each year when social workers from all walks of life can gather on the Hill to celebrate the many accomplishments we have made in Congress and salute the many social workers working with the federal government to create a more just and equitable society for all people.  March is Social Work Month so this is the perfect time to do this.”

Towns, who earned his M.S.W. degree at Adelphi University’s School of Social Work and taught courses at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service, first introduced the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act in 2008 during the 110th Congress and it has been re-introduced in succeeding Congresses, most recently in the 113th Congress by Rep. Lee as H.R. 1466.  A companion bill, S. 997, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.  Both Lee and Mikulski are social workers.  Congresswoman Lee earned her M.S.W. degree at the University of California, Berkeley School of Social Work.  Sen. Mikulski is a graduate of University of Maryland School of Social Work.  The SWRA would establish the Social Work Reinvestment Commission to provide independent counsel to Congress and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on policy issues associated with recruitment, retention, research, and reinvestment in the profession of social work.  It would also provide workplace improvement grants to eligible entities and individuals to address workplace concerns for the social work profession, including caseloads, compensation, social work safety, supervision, and working conditions, and research grants, education and training grants, and community-based programs of excellence grants.

There are currently seven professional social workers in Congress—five in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate.  In addition to Congresswoman Lee, other social workers in the House are Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA53), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL4), Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ9) and Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA3).  Sen. Mikulski and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan are professional social workers.  Congresswoman Lee is the chair of the Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity and founder and co-chair of the Out-of Poverty.  In 2013, she was selected by President Barack Obama as the congressional representative to the United Nations.

For additional information, contact Dr. Charles E. Lewis, Jr., president of the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP) at  CRISP is a 501(c4) nonprofit organization Towns helped to found to complement the work of the Social Work Caucus.


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