submitted by Adria Navarro, Ph.D., LCSW
On April 10th, 2021 the NASW CA Board voted on a motion to establish our newest state council, the NASW CA Council on Aging. The mission of the council is to enhance the quality of life for older adults residing in California by supporting the ethical and competent practice of gerontological social work. Why now? The population of older adults (65+) in our state is projected to surpass 10.8 million by 2030. The policy changes in play mean there are growing employment opportunities for social workers to serve and assist older adults. This surge calls for our profession to evolve with enhanced competency in both the micro and macro arenas of gerontological social work.
The Council on Aging will serve through participation and collaboration on annual NASW conference presentations, regular NASW CA Newsletter content, NASW education recommendations, and involvement with Lobby Days. There are older adult practices, policies, and research that need our action! If you would like to join the first quarterly Zoom networking session at noon on May 11th, 2021 please email Adria Navarro at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spotlight Conversation with a Gerontological Social Worker: Mary Twomey, MSW (https://www.linkedin.com/in/mary-s-twomey/)
May is Older Americans Month
On the day before the Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, I searched nervously through its 300 pages for references to elder abuse, adult maltreatment, abuse of adults with disabilities, Adult Protective Services (APS), etc. Finding none of these, I went to bed that night despondent that, once again, the federal budget would not recognize the important issue of abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and self-neglect of older adults and adults with disabilities (“adult maltreatment”). So, imagine my delight when the news reached me the next morning that, in fact, there was $100 million in the bill for adult maltreatment prevention/intervention activities, including support of state Adult Protective Services (I still don’t know what document I had been searching!).
It’s rare that one is aware that history is being made as it is being made (how many people witnessing the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 knew that history would recognize it as the first step to World War I?), but on March 27, I was keenly aware that the history of geriatric social work would forever note that day as a pivotal moment in its history. This is because when President Trump signed the CARES Act into law on that day, it marked the first time in U.S. history that dedicated federal funding was earmarked for state Adult Protective Services programs. I know, crazy, right?
The CARES act allocation for adult maltreatment programs ($100 million), while tiny in comparison to the federal budget for the child welfare system ($9 billion), or the domestic violence services system ($500 million), is the first step to building the foundation of the federally -funded response older adults and adults with disabilities deserve when maltreatment impacts their lives.
So, for Older Americans Month 2021, we geriatric social workers are a bit giddy. We’re celebrating this new acknowledgement of the importance of our role. We know it’s a small pot of funding, but we’re a scrappy bunch used to doing more with less. While only 3% of MSW students concentrate in geriatric social work, and only 12% of social workers identify their practice specialty as “aging”, over 70% of all social workers will work with older adults or adults with disabilities in their practice. We hope you’ll join us in our upcoming celebration of Older Americans Month. It is vital to all social workers throughout the U.S. that the systems designed to respond to adult maltreatment are fully funded, evidence-based, with a well-trained social worker work force.