Advocacy | Policy & Political Action

NASW AR is guided by the policy statements that appear in Social Work Speaks 2012–2015 in its advocacy efforts and will support and promote the following for 2015 Priority Issues.


 

Child Welfare

Advocate for policies and procedures aimed at the reduction of bullying in Arkansas school systems.

Closely monitor and review (and support when deemed appropriate) initiatives to eliminate or reduce poverty in Arkansas.

Advocate reducing the transition age out of foster care from 17 to 14 to provide more time for adequate planning.

Human Trafficking

Arkansas needs to establish more laws and resources for trafficked persons. A Human Trafficking Task Force met in 2014 and proposed 19 recommendations to address the issue.

Immigration

Arkansas has joined the group of states involved in the federal lawsuit against President Obama’s executive action on immigration. This order delayed the deportation of millions of undocumented residents.

Juvenile Justice

Arkansas’s traditional reliance on secure correctional confinement for minor and non-violent juvenile offenders was expensive, ineffective, and not supported by the research on the proven-effective alternative methods already recognized and implemented in other states.

Advocate for improved educational services and additional resources for youth held in secure confinement; increase professional development training for youth service staff; developing more tools for youth who are re-entering the community to increase youths’ chances of success.

Medicaid Expansion/Private Option

After the recent elections, the private option is in jeopardy. As a result of the private option, Arkansas had one of the country’s steepest reductions in uninsured individuals from 2013 – 2014 (22.5% to 12.4%).

Support and monitor the expansion Arkansas’ implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the role social workers can play in it.

Mental Health

Arkansas reduced its mental health funding in 2013 and 2014. In Arkansas, 12.5% of the population experiences frequent mental distress, whereas the national rate is 10.7%. Additionally, more than 90% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder, according to the National Institute on Mental Health.

Support the development of sufficient resources to support our state budget that will help support the delivery of vital human services to Arkansas citizens in need, including efforts to ensure prompt payment to providers.

Advocate for fair and equitable insurance reimbursement rates for licensed clinical social workers.

Work to promote the hiring of social workers and advocate for the role of the social work profession in the human service sector in Arkansas.

Advocate for adequate levels and types of school social work services on the basis of comprehensive needs assessment data and ensure manageable school social worker to student ratios per the NASW Standards for School Social Work Services.

Advocate for stricter laws aimed at the reduction of mental, sexual, and physical abuse of children, women, and elderly including expanded reporting requirements.

Prison Overcrowding

Arkansas is facing serious prison overcrowding issues. About 2100 state prisoners are being held in county jails. State prisons are over capacity by as many as 3500 prisoners. Many solutions have been proposed but none decided on yet.

Advocate for providing quality mental health service to reduce rates of recidivism, re-entry, and incarceration.

Reproductive Justice

State legislators have indicated they will propose further restrictions on abortions in Arkansas during this session. Proposed legislation includes cutting public funding to Planned Parenthood and banning the use of telemedicine to offer the abortion pill.

Advocate for increasing access to affordable contraception, securing age-appropriate sex education in our schools, fighting pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, and protecting a woman’s right to make personal, private decisions about pregnancy and abortion.

Cancellation Notice

Regrettably, NASW Arkansas has made the decision to cancel Lobby Day 2015 based on the Winter Storm Warning issued by the National Weather Service that covers that majority of the state. Though it is difficult to cancel this important event that so many have worked hard to prepare for and attend, safety is our primary concern.

We will not attempt to reschedule Lobby Day 2015 for a second time. Be on the lookout for tools and information about how you can contact your legislators and advocate for or against bills we’ve been tracking.

 

 


 

 

What is Social Work Lobby Day?

Lobby Day is a chance for social workers, students and professors to advocate for the social work profession at the Arkansas General Assembly. You will learn the skills you need to lobby state leaders about policy issues that are important to your profession and to your specific clients in our Advocacy 101 training. You will then put these skills to use by meeting with your local legislators in individual meetings at the Capitol. Lobby Day gives you the opportunity to tour the General Assembly, attend legislative meetings, and interact with social workers from across the state.

NASW Arkansas Lobby Days are held in ‘odd number years’ (2013, 2015…) due to the General Assembly’s schedule. During even years, legislators do not have full session.

We are always happy to speak with students about advocacy throughout the year. If you are interested or have more questions, please contact Holly Barron at hbarron@naswar.org.

 

Tips on advocating:

2014-2015 NASW-AR PACE Committee

Christiane Carlisle, LMSW
Alishia Ferguson, PhD, LMSW
Richard Freer, PhD, LMSW
Peggy Tidmore-White, LCSW
Shawn Young, LMSW

2014 PACE Endorsements

NASW-AR PACE is a registered political action committee with the Arkansas Secretary of State. The Chapter President makes annual appointments to the PACE Committee.


Preamble

Social Workers traditionally have been committed to improving American life through voluntary association of a sociopolitical nature. The involvement of Social Workers in social movements and political processes has taken many forms and concentrated on various elements needing improvement in American society and government, depending on many factors within the profession’s development.

Social Workers from the National Association of Social Workers have sought to renew and strengthen their organizational and professional focus in the political process by forming a national voluntary association for collective action which is the Political Action for Candidate Election (PACE). To secure the benefits of similar participation in chapter political processes, NASW-AR PACE was established to define a political action group for professional Social Workers in the Chapter of Arkansas.


Who Is NASW-AR PACE?

You are! Through NASW-AR PACE, social workers like you can make contributions to support progressive candidates and volunteer to work on campaigns of NASW-AR PACE endorsed candidates.


What Are NASW-AR PACE’s Goals?

NASW-AR PACE recognizes the importance of social workers’ roles in the formulation of sound public policy and seeks to build constructive working relationships with elected officials by:

  • Advancing social workers as candidates for public office.
  • Organizing social workers to help elect endorsed candidates to public office who support legislation and public policy consistent with the aims of NASW-AR.
  • Providing political education about endorsed candidates and issues to members of NASW-AR.
  • Promoting the adoption of public policy through political action that is in the interest of the social work profession and consumers of social work services.

How Do We Accomplish These Goals?

Political action is the key. The involvement of thousands of social workers working together can dramatically increase our influence and power in the political process. With your commitment and support, we can strengthen the voice of social work in the Arkansas General Assembly. You can be a part of the NASW-AR PACE team by:

  • Contributing to the NASW-AR PACE fund. These funds are used to provide financial support to candidates and to organize social workers to work on campaigns.
  • Volunteering to work for an NASW-AR PACE endorsed candidate.
  • Serving as a local organizer for social work participation in grassroots political activity.
  • Helping candidates for public office build ties to the social work community by sponsoring candidate forums.

Contributions

If you would like to contribute to the NASW-AR PACE fund to support progressive candidates or volunteer to work on campaigns of NASW-AR PACE endorsed candidates, please e-mail Holly at hbarron@naswar.org.  For information on the income and expenditures of NASW-AR PACE or any other Arkansas political action committee, visit the Arkansas Secretary of State financial disclosure search website.


Coalitions

NASW Arkansas Chapter is currently represented in the following coalitions:

Arkansas Advocates’ for Children & Families Kids Count Coalition to promote, protect and unify the interests of the children and families of Arkansas.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to assist victims of violence gain and maintain their freedom from abuse; to support parents fighting to protect their children from an abusive partner or ex-partner within the court system; and to support NCADV’s public policy efforts aimed at educating national leaders on the issue of domestic violence and influencing national legislation, policy and funding decisions that keep victims of violence safe.