GSCSW considers Legislative Advocacy as a fundamental pillar of this organization.
One of the primary goals of the Legislative Committee is to ensure that clinical social workers have a voice in the Georgia General Assembly. As such, GSCSW has contracted with a registered lobbyist – Jamie Lord – who works diligently with our Legislative Advocacy Committee to identify and educate the GSCSW Board and our membership regarding pieces of legislation that could affect social workers and/or the consumers of social work services. The Legislative Advocacy Committee also collaborates with the GSCSW Board, our membership, and other like-minded policy groups across the state to prioritize and/or introduce legislation that we believe is pertinent to both our profession and our consumers. Furthermore, the Legislative Advocacy Committee is responsible for attending the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists monthly meetings and relaying the content discussed back to the GSCSW Board and membership.
Because Social Workers interact with many aspects of society, tracking relevant legislation can be a daunting task. While our friends at the NASW do pay attention to similar topics as GSCSW, the NASW tends to follow a much broader scope of issues.
Our key distinction is that the GSCSW focuses almost exclusively on clinical issues. Examples of legislation the GSCSW Legislative Committee tracks and engages with includes, but is not limited to:
- Aging and Disability
Items addressed included increased funding of home and community-based services; allowing individuals with disabilities to reenter the workforce while maintaining Medicaid coverage; supporting minimum standards for nursing facilities and for the Georgia Senior Legal Hotline; and monitoring bills about predatory lending practices will be closely monitored and supported as appropriate.
Advocacy focused on supporting legislation that improves protective services, foster care, and adoption systems throughout the State. It also focused on measures that protect and strengthen the social/environmental conditions of all families.
- Civil Rights
Advocacy focused on ameliorating or preventing discrimination based on any preference or personal characteristic, condition or status. Measures that positively addressed the inequities in the adult and juvenile justice systems are tracked and monitored, and appropriation of funds that promote social justice for all Georgia citizens was supported.
- Consumer Affairs
The prevention of predatory lending practices and legislation regarding accessibility and funding of consumer health/mental services and products were addressed.
Advocacy supported legislation that promotes environmental safety and health in rural and urban areas.
- Family/Domestic Violence
Items addressed included legislative initiatives that promote safe and secure families and neighborhoods through violence prevention, early intervention, conflict negotiation and mediation as well as the provision of effective education, treatment and rehabilitation services for victims and perpetrators of abuse.
- Physical and Mental Health
Advocacy focused on supporting legislation related to healthcare quality, delivery and accessibility, as well as provision of prescription drugs and other continuing care services. Particular attention was given to mental health care access, delivery and funding.
Advocacy focused on the inclusion of the professional social worker in the delivery of services affecting the health and well being of the citizens of Georgia. In addition, monitoring legislation to assure appropriate use of the title “social worker” was a priority.
- Reproductive Choice
Advocacy focused on supporting legislation protecting a woman’s right to reproductive health and choices as well as measures to provide comprehensive sex education in the schools.
Advocacy and monitoring efforts are directed toward measures that modify current legislation regarding existing benefits and options available to current and former public assistance recipients.
The only way a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can work is if the people get involved!! Here are some suggestions for doing just that:
As citizens, our right to vote is the single most important way we have to influence the people who make the decisions for our local, state, and federal governments, and most of us don’t even do it. Get educated about the candidates. Vote early, and vote often.
- Get to Know Your Legislators and Voice Your Priorities and Concerns
Did you know that the best time to contact your legislators is when they’re NOT in session? Legislators don’t just work during the 40 days they’re in session. Not only are they there to work for you year-round, but also they are actually more available to you when they’re not in session. They are more likely to take time to meet with you and give your concerns their full attention when they are in their home districts among their constituents. Make a point of getting to know your legislators in the off-season so they are more likely to seek out your opinion or take your calls when they’re in session. If constituents contact a legislator at least three times, the legislator will most likely recognize them and their reason for contact. Not only can you advocate for yourself and your issues, but also for your clients! Learn more about your legislators. Check their websites regularly to find out what they are doing. Meet them in their office. Invite them to your organization to meet clients willing to talk to them. Put a face on the decisions they make!
- Watch Advocacy Websites
Did you know that up-to-the minute information regarding the General Assembly is available via the internet? Bookmark and regularly visit websites which track legislative sessions and decisions. See the helpful links below for website suggestions.
- Join GSCSW’s Legislative Committee
Help get the word out to your Social Work peers by becoming involved in GSCSW’s Legislative Committee. Contact the Committee Chair at [email protected] to join.
Although these links are instructive and informative, GSCSW does not monitor the accuracy or content of these websites.
- Find out what’s been happening during the Georgia General Assembly Legislative Session.
- The Secretary of State’s website provides information on voter registration and the election process.
- Find out who your Senator and Representative is in the Georgia General Assembly and the U.S. Congress; look up voting records on current legislators and candidates running for state and national positions.
- Legislative information on U.S. Congress including status of bills, committee information and congressional voting records.
Will Smith (Chair)
Contact the Committee Chairs at [email protected]
Georgia General Assembly Report
Find out what’s been happening during the Georgia General Assembly Legislative Session by clicking here.