Social Workers Leading for Justice
E-News July 2017    

Social Workers for Equality - June was Gay Pride Month

Table of Contents


Notes from the Field 

Anticipating Medicaid Cuts


Happy July Social Work Friends!

There are lots of changes to announce at NASW-MA. Longtime staff Elaine Lowenstein (40 years) and Barbara Wright (23 years) retired at the end of June. We sent them off with cheer and best wishes. They've promised to stay in touch. Our chapter would not have thrived these past many years without their contributions and hard work.  I hope you'll join me in thanking them for everything they have done.

Today, July 5th, we welcome new Office and Financial Manager Michael LaBerge. Michael comes with experience in organizational operations, office management and finance. He is very interested and excited about the mission of NASW MA and is eager to get to work. I'm also very pleased to announce our new Communications Director, Jamie Klufts, who will begin on July 10th. Jamie comes with a wealth of experience in health communications, graphic design, and strategic organizational assessment with a focus on branding. She will be responsible for the Focus newsletter, our online e-newsletter, social media, the website, graphic design of our flyers and print materials, and press communications. Currently, we're in the process of hiring a new Membership and Program Manager who will work closely with the whole team here to make your membership experience even more meaningful and impactful. 

The Board of Directors, with many new faces and activist social work representation from across the state, will engage in strategic planning with staff, members and volunteers into the fall. Stay tuned for ways you can engage in the process!

I'll continue to keep you posted as we re-shape the Chapter office in the months ahead to meet the challenges of 2017 and beyond. We are updating our systems with a strong focus on communicating the work of NASW and a special focus on legislative and political work that will help invigorate our commitment to social work roots - fighting for economic justice and human rights, advancement of the social work profession, and advocacy for those served by social workers, many of whom are the most vulnerable members of society.

Please be in touch with your input, questions, and ideas. I've been travelling across Massachusetts, meeting with many of you and am eager to make contact.

In solidarity and hope,
Rebekah Gewirtz
Executive Director
(O) 617-227-9635 x16
(C) 617-645-4773



Chapter News

Successful June Continuing Education Events
Close to 125 social workers participated in continuing education (CE) events on two Fridays in June. These programs were the final two in our series of five CE workshops held in May and June.  An Introduction to Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples, led by Jill Fischer, LICSW and NASW member, offered information on studies showing the success of EFT with couples, and introduced social workers to various steps and strategies to implement and practice EFT. Joe Pereira, LICSW and Dennis Balcom, LICSW (pictured at left), both in private practice and NASW members, led a session on clinical treatment of men. This program, sponsored by the Social Work Therapy Referral Service, brought Joe and Dennis's longtime experience and expertise in this understudied area of practice, to a group of avid social work practitioners. Check out a related article on addiction, by Joe Pereira, in the July Focus Newsletter.

State House Hearings

Criminal Justice took center stage in June with two Judiciary Committee Hearings. Social workers testified to end mandatory minimums, reform solitary confinement, and on a host of other issues that will improve the circumstances of those in the criminal justice system so they can return to society and are less likely to be re-incarcerated. 

In addition, NASW rallied and testified for Paid Family Medical Leave arguing for low income and all parents to have bonding time with infants and recently adopted children.  The legislation would also allow employees to take time for ailing family members, and for individuals with significant illness. If the bill doesn't pass, we'll take it to the ballot for voters to decide. We are looking forward to working with our social worker members to help collect signatures from across the state.  We'll continue to keep you posted on the actions around this and how you can help make this important initiative law!

PACE Endorsement
In a special election for the late state senator Ken Donnelly's seat, PACE 
State Representative Sean Garballey
intervi ewed all three candidates, ultimately endorsing Rep. Sean Garballey, a huge  ally of NASW in the State House for the past decade. Sean championed the social work safety in the workplace law to passage a few years ago. It was a squeaker of a race with Sean ultimately losing to Sen. Donnelly's longtime chief of staff, Cindy Friedman. Equally progressive and a strong mental health advocate, we've kept an ally in the House and gained an ally in the Senate with the election of Cindy Friedman to this senate seat. 

Cindy Friedman, winner of the special election primary - congratulations Cindy!
This is the election year when PACE endorses social workers in local races. The committee is working on a special questionnaire for local candidates and is excited
 to have a few first-timers running.

Come participate in PACE this summer! Email Christine  Poff, Political Director, to learn more.

Summer Picnic in the Boston Public Garden
Before a summer break, NASW-MA Committees and Shared Interest Group members gathered in the Public Garden to mingle, talk across their respective activities, and welcome newcomers. It was a beautiful evening and we took turns chasing Rebekah's adorable two year old daughter, Nina, who was determined to feed the ducks and potentially dive into the pond! 

Picnic clean-up crew (L to R): Kaley Montgomery, Jonas Goldenberg, Margaret Haffey (LAC co-chair), Sathya Mandjiny, Hope Haff, Clif Day and his daughter Summer, Kevin (Private Practice SIG), Barbara Burka (SWTRS), Diana Taylor, Deb Goldfarb (Criminal Justice Committee).


Social Work Action Center

Social Work Loan Forgiveness Hearing
NASW-MA's Social Work Loan Forgiveness bill is on the docket of the Higher Education Committee's hearing - Thursday, July 13th at 10am in the State House.   Students, new professionals and longtime loan payers - please join us to make the case that social workers, some of the lowest paid, highly educated, and skilled professionals in the state desperately need debt relief!  Passage of this bill would help social workers stay in the field and serve the most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth.  Hearing personal stories about BSW and MSW debt loads can have a big impact on legislators. You can testify or just attend to show your support.  Email Clif Day if you'd like to participate at the hearing.

Hearing on Choice for All - even teenagers!
NASW's longtime commitment to choice fuels our effort to fight any restrictions on abortion in Massachusetts. Currently young women under the age of 18 must get a parent or judge's consent to terminate her pregnancy. On  Tuesday, July 11th at 1:00pm at the State House we have the opportunity to testify for bills lowering the age of abortion consent to under 16. While we will state unequivocally our opposition to any restrictions, at any age, we will support this incremental step.  To join NASW on July 11th, email Taylor Maranda .

Details about upcoming State House Hearings:
Tuesday, July 11th at 1pm : Lower the age for parental consent to get an abortion from 18 to 16 and under.

Thursday, July 13th at 10am in Room A2: Social Work Loan Forgiveness bill - establishes a $1 million pilot project to defray loans for social workers committed to working in underserved areas.

Tuesday, July 18th at 12:30pm in Room B2: Raise the minimum wage to $15/hour and end the special tipped wage for restaurant workers that keeps them earning less and for many, stuck in the ruthless cycle of poverty.

Are you passionate about any of these issues? Want to write testimony or come to the hearing?  Email Christine  Poff or Rebekah Gewirtz to learn more.  We'll walk you through what to expect.


Clinical Spotlight

An Important Initiative and Survey for Clinical Social Workers

The Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association (MHA) has convened a coalition called the Behavioral Health Unfinished Agenda of Reform (BHUAR). The initiative includes a diverse group of stakeholders, including providers, patient advocates, payers, government agencies, and more. It has developed three collaborative action teams focused on expanding and improving access to behavioral health services in Massachusetts.   The three teams are tasked with: (1) improving the behavioral health workforce, (2) developing a comprehensive database of community-based services for providers, patients, and families; and (3) providing a statewide database of existing community-based services as a best practice model for providers and communities statewide. 

The goal of the Work Force Action Team is to  improve and expand the behavioral health workforce by identifying innovative ways to enhance and support the behavioral health workforce in community-based, institutional, and other levels of care. As a member of this team, NASW MA is working to ensure a strong voice for social workers in this process.

A survey was developed that focuses specifically on the causes or challenges associated with the current shortage of  mental health and/or substance use disorder social workers and psychiatrists, as well as methods that are being used or could be used to enhance access to behavioral health services delivered by these provider types.

NASW-MA Chapter requests your participation in completing the survey using this Survey Link  
All individual survey responses will remain confidential and any results released will only be reported in aggregate form. MHA is asking for responses to the survey no later than  Friday July 14, 2017 .  You can review a copy of this survey template to see the questions in advance, but  all responses have to be provided through the online survey link above . If you have any questions regarding this survey or BHUAR in general, please contact Rebekah Gewirtz at NASW or MHA's Janice Peters at or (781) 262-6023.


Notes from the Field

New Procedure for Reporting Elder Abuse
Beginning the morning of June 30, 2017,  the Executive Office of Elder Affairs began centralizing the Elder Protective Services abuse report intake system (elder abuse hotline) to a single phone number, connecting the caller to a call center with specially trained intake workers in Massachusetts.  The elder abuse hotline number will remain the same (1-800-922-2275).  The 24/7 single phone number seeks to simplify the process for elder abuse reporting. All calls made to 1-800-922-2275 (day or night, 7 days a week) will go directly to the Massachusetts-based call center, regardless of the location of the reporter or the elder. 

It is important to note that while the initial intake will be centralized, all reports will continue to be referred to local Protective Services Agencies for screening, and if indicated, investigation and service planning.  People who will be most impacted by this change will be mandated reporters.  If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to Director of Protective Services, Alec Graham (Alec.C.Graham@MassMail.State.MA.US).

Changes to Mass Health Impacting Social Workers
The Mass Health program is in the process of transformation with the new Delivery System Reform Implementation Plan (DSRIP) and upwards of $1.8B coming to Massachusetts over the next five years. As part of the program, Mass Health is seeking to ensure social workers are core to the new medical home and ACO systems that will be created.  We expect a social worker loan repayment program to be included for LICSWs and a special projects program that would allow LICSWs to be eligible providers.  We are just learning more about plans underway at Mass Health and will keep you informed as we learn more.  To see the slide deck of proposed initiatives relevant to social work, check out this link: Do you have a special interest in Mass Health transformation?  If so, please be in touch by emailing with Rebekah.

Comments for the new group Ride-Health
An organization called  Ride Health  is moving into New England with a goal of  improving access to care for patients who face transportation barriers. They have been in touch with NASW to let us know they are developing a technology platform and tools with the goal of empowering medical providers, care coordinators, and social workers to help address their patients' non-emergent transportation needs. As an organization, they are looking to hear about social work experiences managing transportation for patients. We have been asked to share this with you as social work insight and opinions would be helpful to Ride Health as it expands into New England. Please feel free to reach out to Sumun Khetpal, at , or call at 580-230-0829. 


Social Workers Anticipate Medicaid Cuts

Social workers have been on the edge of their seats worried that the US Senate health care bill would pass. Thankfully the bill did not pass before the July 4th holiday and much of that was due to the activism of leaders like you making calls and working together to defeat it.  Thanks to all who signed up to call residents in other states with swing vote senators. The list of those concerned about or opposed to the proposed bill got longer each day. We made a big difference!

With a Massachusetts congressional delegation that opposes this mean spirited tax break for the wealthy, and our senators, Markey and Warren, playing a loud role in opposition, joining a phone bank to call voters elsewhere in the country helped put pressure on those in power.

Right now we are collecting stories from social workers about what medicaid means to clients and people with whom you interact in hospitals, community health centers, schools, and wherever social workers are.  Do you have a story about how Medicaid has saved a life or changed a community?  Please share your story with us and we will be in touch with how you may be able to get more involved in advocacy. Email Rebekah with your story. 


Upcoming Events

Featured event!  
PACE Campaign Training 
Wednesday, July 19th 6-8pm at 14 Beacon St, first floor. Learn how to get involved on a political campaign at the local or state level. What's involved, what's the commitment, and how you can you be effective? Have you thought about running for office yourself? In the age of Trump we want more candidates with social work values making decisions and passing laws in Massachusetts. RSVP

Don't miss these hot CE Events in the fall Fall - check out details in July's issue of Focus!
  • Love, Sex and Self-Respect: Your Body Holds the Keys, September 15, 2017 (3 CEs)
  • Safety in the Workplace for Social Workers in Private Practice & Other Settings, September 28, 2017 (3.5 CEs)
  • School Social Work Conference, October 20, 2017 (5.5 CEs)
  • Culturally Informed Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, October 23, 2017 (3 CEs)
  • The Pivotal Role for Clinical Social Work in Health Care: Updates on the Science of Behavior Change, November 3, 2017 (6 CEs)
  • Integrating Sensory Motor Techniques in Group (and Individual) Treatment with Trauma Survivors, November 17, 2017 (3 CEs)
We're working on adding a program on the role of social work in the changing health care landscape.  Be on the lookout for more details in the near future on that.

Do you have an idea for a great CE program that would interest you and others in your area of social work?  Please let us know! Email Jonas Goldenberg.

NASW READ - A Statewide virtual book group

Tuesday, October 3rd 6-8pm CEs included
Adcare, 107 Lincoln St, Worcester
You can come in person or join via conference call or screen (like skype) - RSVP for directions.

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs
You'll love this read - it's a fascinating story with data and examples of how the drug war has failed. As we go deeper into the opioid crisis, with little signs of an abatement, the book offers exciting alternatives to help people manage and end their addiction. For clinicians and advocates, here's a path to bring about change. Put it on your reading list this summer!


NASW Massachusetts Chapter

Build our power as social workers. 
 Elevate our profession.

Forward this email to your social work friends  and encourage them to join NASW-MA today .