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The social work profession was founded on social change. Throughout the profession’s history, social workers have sought to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources and opportunities that allow them to meet their basic needs. NASW upholds this challenge by advocating for the association to members of Congress and regulatory agencies that so often hold the authority to influence policy.

NASW has developed a policy agenda which asserts the association’s advocacy priorities for the legislative cycle. NASW’s policy agenda is consistent with the NASW policies in Social Work Speaks, which is developed by members of the association at the Delegate Assembly.

What does NASW Virginia Chapter do to influence state policy and regulations?

 

Advocacy on professional practices and social justice has been core to the mission of NASW and its Virginia Chapter since its inception. The chapter monitors bills; communicates chapter stances to legislators; educates elected officials on behavioral health and social justice issues; helps craft or influence bill/resolution language; and alerts and activates social workers and chapter members and students about when and how to use their power as knowledgeable constituents to influence legislative and regulatory outcomes.

 

The chapter also is deeply involved in or collaborates with numerous Virginia coalitions and organizations or partners, since rarely is genuine policy progress made by advocating alone.

 

These coalitions include the following:

  • Compassionate Choices

  • Solitary Confinement Coalition

  • Voices for Virginia’s Children

  • National Association of Mental Illness

  • Poverty Law Center

  • Equality Virginia

  • ACLU Virginia

 

What is the chapter doing now on advocacy?

 

As legislators settle in for a short, 46-day General Assembly session, NASW Virginia Chapter has been preparing for the rapid onslaught of bills on everything from reproductive rights to gun safety, as well as on professional issues such as mental health funding and salaries of behavioral health workers. It’s critical that we have engaged members in diverse specialties who are willing to detail the client impacts and outcomes of policy proposals.

 

Check the Virginia General Assembly site for the most recent updates on bills, meetings and legislators.  

How can I advocate on social justice and professional practice issues in Virginia?

 

  1. Write, call, or safely visit your legislator. We encourage you to use NASW and chapter resources and research as background in formulating your personal opinion, but please know that no one is authorized to speak publicly for the chapter except the executive director and president, unless you have Virginia Chapter-specific talking points about a certain bill and a call to action. You should be clear in your communications that you are speaking as an individual Virginia social worker.

  2. Read your monthly NASW Virginia member newsletter to stay up to date on calls to action and advocacy issue updates.

  3. Invite social work colleagues to join NASW so they can add their voices to Virginia advocacy efforts. The more social workers who call, write, and visit, the more legislators must listen and feel prompted to act!

  4. Order the latest Social Work Speaks (12th edition releases in January/February 2021), which contains all NASW policy statements approved by the Delegate Assembly, as well as how-to information about advocating for the social work profession and your clients. All chapter policy statements and legislative/regulatory strategies must align with and/or support NASW’s national advocacy goals and current policy statements.

  5. Follow NASW on all major social media platforms to stay up-to-date on national advocacy opportunities and progress on the organization’s strategic priorities. You also can read Social Work Advocates and view the latest news releases.  

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