Social Work Legislative Education and Advocacy Day (LEAD) is a legislative event hosted by the National Association of Social Workers – New York City (NASW-NYC) Chapter, the New York State Social Work Education Association (NYSSWEA), and the New York State Association of the Deans of Schools of Social Work that brings hundreds of social work students and professionals to the Capitol.

The goal of this event is to further social workers’ knowledge about policy issues in substantive areas of social work practice, teach participants about legislative advocacy, and provide an opportunity for social workers to lobby on behalf of specific legislation. This year, students advocated for New York State budget investment in the social work profession, including loan forgiveness. Students also advocated for legislation to support initiatives to prevent suicide.

This year’s LEAD event was on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, and 25 faculty and students from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work made their way to Albany, New York, to build support among state legislators for programs and bills that strengthen the ability of social workers to do their work among the vulnerable populations within the state.

The Wurzweiler contingent in the hall of the state capitol

This year, there were two major LEAD issues:

  • RACIAL EQUITY ASSESSMENT IN LEGISLATION (REAL) ACT: The REAL) Act is a bill that would require the New York State Legislature to create a mechanism by which all bills be viewed through a racial equity lens. This process will help ensure that the laws passed to protect and support New Yorkers do so for all New Yorkers.
  • SOCIAL WORK INVESTMENT INITIATIVE: On March 30, 2018, the Legislature passed the Health and Mental Hygiene budget bill, which called for the full and complete implementation of the 2002 licensing laws and included most of our exact language related to diagnosis, treatment and non-licensed tasks, effectively ending the 14-year licensure exemption. However, it is imperative that our proposed amendments be enacted in conjunction with a financial commitment to invest in the social work profession. As such, we continue to advocate for funds to support loan forgiveness, test prep and workforce studies to help identify where additional supports are needed.

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