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Advocacy Day
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Tuesday, March 27 - Register Here

2018 - Social Workers: Leaders. Advocates. Champions.

Every March, during Social Work Month, NASW Ohio Chapter hosts Advocacy Day to connect social workers to their state legislators. It's a time to promote our profession and issues that impact our clients. Join over 800 social workers and social work students at the Riffe Center in Columbus for a day of action. You'll learn how to be an effective advocate and meet with your state Representative's and state Senator's offices.


NASW Ohio’s Advocacy Day is the day that we introduce our state legislators to the social work profession. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet directly with their state representative and senator to discuss the value of social work and the challenges facing our profession. We will discuss professional issues such as student debt relief, social work salaries and social work safety, as well as social justice topics like banning conversion “therapy” at the state level, and legislative solutions to improve police and community relationships.

This year’s Advocacy Day will spotlight juvenile justice. In collaboration with the Juvenile Justice Coalition, NASW Ohio will offer programming and meeting materials to prepare attendees to talk to state legislators about ending the school to prison pipeline and developing policies that support youth who must interact with the juvenile justice system.

In December 2016, youth advocates had a major with the passage of House Bill 410, which modified school discipline and truancy policies to align with national best practices so that all of Ohio’s students can stay connected to educational opportunities and school. But in order to have an educational system that fully supports all students, we need to build on the momentum from HB 410. Our asks this year for Advocacy Day will be for legislators to adopt best practices in discipline and truancy for pre-K through 3rd grade children and for bullying prevention. We will talk to legislators about the difference that a social worker can make to a child’s education, and stress the importance that every school have a social worker on staff.



9am-10am- Registration

10am-11:30am- Training

11:30am-12:00pm- Lunch (provided) and planning

12:00pm-3:00pm- Meetings with legislators


Cost (includes boxed lunch and 1 social work CEU)

$25 for students, $30 for non-students


We're happy to process refunds until Tuesday, March 13. After that date, however, no refunds will be available.


Dress Code
Please wear professional (business casual) clothes to Advocacy Day.


Parking and Location

We look forward to hosting you at the Riffe Center in the heart of downtown Columbus. Please note you'll have to pay to park - usually $8-$10. Find a map of parking locations here. After teaching you the ins and outs of lobbying, we'll direct you to either the meeting with your representative in the same building or the meeting with your senator across the street at the Ohio Statehouse.


Preparation and Issues


You can watch the preparation webinar here: 


The Advocacy Day theme is simple: social workers are key to building safer communities. We hope that the legislators you meet with will leave the meeting knowing that no matter how complex the problems facing us, social workers should be part of the solution.

There are some policy issues that we always cover in our legislative meetings. Many of the legislators are new this General Assembly, and some may have misconceptions about our profession. We like to start our meetings with some general sharing about the profession and the challenges social workers face. Remember, while most people tend to follow national politics, many of the challenges that social workers face would be addressed at the state and local level. From healthcare and schools to caseloads and reimbursement rates, Ohio legislators have a lot of power to shape the outlook of social work jobs. It is crucial that legislators understand our profession and the value that social workers bring to Ohio. Here are some facts to share with your legislator about social work.

- There are currently about 26,000 licensed social workers in Ohio
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work is projected to grow by 16% from 2016-2026. That is much faster than the average of other professions.
- Social workers provide most of the counseling and mental health services throughout the state.
- Social workers are highly educated, with most holding a Master’s Degree (MSW).
- Despite high levels of education (and student loan debt) social work salaries remain low, with an average MSW making around $40,000 per year.
- Social workers are trained in tackling complex, systemic issues at any level, from micro to macro practice!

The social work profession is facing significant challenges in the coming years, which will have an impact on public welfare as well as social workers themselves.
- Workforce shortages in crucial health and human service systems, particularly in community mental health and geriatric social work.
- Stagnant and inconsistent reimbursements rates for mental health services that make it difficult for agencies to offer competitive salaries.
- An overly complex and difficult to navigate insurance system for private practitioners offering crucial mental healthcare.
- Burdensome student loan debt that is causing social workers to leave the field for higher salaries.

Please plan to share with your legislator all of the great things that social workers do, and also some of the challenges that face us. Feel free to add a personal touch with brief stories and experiences from your field placement or workplace.

Every year for Advocacy Day we pair professional issues with social justice issues to best represent what NASW would like to see prioritized at the Statehouse. It is always difficult to choose which bills to discuss, because with a field as broad as social work, we could choose to weigh in almost any legislation introduced.

This year, we are thrilled to be partnering with the Juvenile Justice Coalition to work on legislation that will impact youth safety. The core message for this advocacy is simple: Social workers are crucial to creating safe communities for Ohio kids.

Before I share about the legislation that JJC is working on, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one lingering threat facing LGBTQ youth in Ohio: the continued use of conversion “therapy” with gender non-conforming and LGB youth. Those of you who have attended in previous years will remember this topic, as NASW has been a lead advocate seeking a ban on conversion “therapy” since 2015. Conversion “therapy" is the practice of seeking to change a person's sexual orientation, including efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender.

Last year, Senator Charleta Tavares sponsored legislation to ban the practice of conversion “therapy” by certain healthcare professionals (including social workers) when working with minors. This bill, Senate Bill 126 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Medicaid, but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. If you are meeting with Senator Burke or Senator Beagle, ask them to schedule a hearing for SB 126. If you are meeting with Senator Tavares, be sure to thank her for her championship on this important topic. For any meeting, it is important to stress that conversion “therapy” is not only ineffective, but harmful practice that may encourage family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and caring, which are important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts. Young people who experience high levels of family rejection face serious health risks, including being 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, and 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression. Ohio currently has four cities that have implemented bans on conversion “therapy” with minors, but without a statewide ban, youth outside of these urban centers remain at risk.

In these disturbing times, we know well that many youth have become concerned for their safety in communities and in schools. Many legislators and constituents are appropriately concerned about gun violence. A new breath of momentum toward addressing gun violence has come from the school shooting tragedy and subsequent activism and leadership at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. NASW supports treating gun violence and mass shootings as the public health crises that they are. We know that this issue is multi-faceted and can become quickly heated, but we also know that these are necessary conversations to be having.

We have opted to focus our attention on a small selection of bills that will impact our ability to intervene and prevent school shootings. The overarching message here is simple: Legislators have a duty to provide every student with appropriate social and emotional supports in order to better identify and treat students who could commit school violence. School social workers are equipped with skills in de-escalation, mental health interventions, and community organizing skills which can be deployed to create safer school environments. But currently, in districts that have school social workers (which is not every district) they are often undersupported with oversized caseloads, complicated regulations to follow, and little support, reducing their effectiveness in addressing violence in schools.

The Juvenile Justice Coalition is a state-wide advocacy organization that works with Ohio youth who are at-risk of involvement or involved in the juvenile court system. JJC works mainly through policy advocacy and advocating with youth and families. We have been working with JJC to develop the policy asks for March 27th. The bills they have highlighted are moving through the Ohio legislature quickly. We want to give you the most up to date information on the bills in question, so we will send additional information on the following bills as Advocacy Day nears.
First, we will be discussing HB 318 which will define qualifications and duties of school resource officers. This bill has recently been moved to a committee that will add funding to the bill, increasing the number of school resource officers in schools. Ohio school districts are facing major funding shortfalls leading to loss of jobs for school support staff. Placing the responsibility for monitoring student’s emotional health on teachers and school resource officers is a recipe for failure. NASW joins JJC in opposing HB 318 and calling for funding for more social-emotional supports for students, including school social workers.

We will also be discussing SB 246 known as the SAFE Act which reforms truancy and disciplinary procedures in grades Pre-K through 3rd. The SAFE act is similar to HB 410 that passed in the last General Assembly. HB 410 made similar reforms in higher grade levels. Both HB 410 and the new SAFE Act have or will require implementation of Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) which is a move away from punitive school policies toward restorative models. We know, from work with school social workers, that the implementation of these reforms will be strained without proper funding to staff the schools with social workers and other supportive professionals.


Previous Advocacy Days:


2017 - Social Workers Stand Up

650 attendees advocated for increased funding for health and human services, opposed licensing board consolidation, and voiced support for the passage of Monica's Law.


2016 - Forging Solutions Out of Challenges

525 attendees advocated for increased salaries for social workers, funding for police training in implicit bias and crisis intervention, and banning licensed providers from practicing conversion therapy.

2015 - Paving the Way for Social Justice

We discussed proposals to improve community-police relations, banning conversion or reparative therapy, and educational debt relief for social workers.


2014 - Addressing Barriers to Professional Success

330 attendees asked to close a loophole in social work title protection by passing HB 232 and to develop a social work educational debt relief program.


2013 - The Role of Social Workers in Healthcare

The ask was to support Medicaid Expansion and to consider social work as a pivotal role in healthcare.

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