By Kay Castillo, Director of Advocacy, Policy and Legislation, NASW North Carolina
Many social workers fear the idea of being involved in policy. You may think that policy has nothing to do with your clinical work (that you’re interested in micro social work not MACRO). That policy has nothing to do with your work in child welfare, public health, aging, etc. You may also think there’s no point because your legislators don’t share the same values as you. So with headlines about the NC Legislative Session starting May 14th, you are quick to ignore, roll your eyes and move on to the next subject.
Policy affects Practice and Practice affects Policy.
That’s right. The work you are doing now: the service definitions you are bound to, the funding you receive, how you serve clients in your agency, and more is wrapped up tightly in what happens during a legislative session.
Think back to the 2013 Legislative Session. What changes did we see? Our entire tax structure was changed- impacting our clients, our agencies, and ourselves. Our voting laws were drastically changed. A Good Samaritan law was passed impacting drug overdose. Our human trafficking laws and supports for survivors was changed. Starting executions on death row was approved. I could go on about where social workers and our clients were impacted, for better or for worse. If you are new here and didn’t read our weekly updates and bill summaries. OR if you quickly blocked it out of your memory and need a refresher on everything that happened (we don’t blame you for some!), click here.
BUT many of you showed up to make a difference with calls, visits and emails to your legislators! YOU stopped a penalty on Medicaid providers who might waive a copay for a client in need. YOU prevented notarized consent forms for minors seeking therapeutic treatment for depression and substance abuse. YOU prevented a prior authorization for mental health medications. And YOU made sure that social workers were heard.
So, when legislators get back to work on May 14th, what will happen? A list of bills eligible for short session can be found at the bottom of this list. During short session, legislators mostly focus on the budget. But we also anticipate policies impacting child welfare, foster care, juvenile justice, Autism services, mental health, and more to all be discussed.