I also want to say a thank you for being an NASW-Michigan member. It is your membership that allows us to advocate for you and the clients that you serve. Know that we are your voice at the Capitol and are having individual meetings with state senators and representatives to make sure that the needs of the social work profession are heard. Often times I am asked “what does NASW do for me?”. This is something that I think about often and I want you to know that the staff here is working hard to make sure your needs, concerns, and requests are being addressed.
As we celebrate social work month know that your hard work in partnership with NASW-Michigan and your membership impacts the social work profession in Michigan. I ask that you stop for a minute and consider what our profession would be like if NASW-Michigan did not exist
The following are some of my thoughts.
Specific to Michigan social workers:
- There would not be an organized legislative voice for social workers and our clients
- There would not be licensure, title protection, or a scope of practice in the state
- There would not be an advocate to assure that clinical social workers are covered by insurances
- There would not be qualified professionals ready to answer critical ethical dilemmas and questions
- There would not be a presence at the Michigan Board of Social Work meetings to speak to issues facing the profession specific to Michigan
- There would not be strong organized advocacy for diversity in the field and there would not be a specific task force for Deaf and Hard of Hearing clients and social workers
- There would not be an annual conference that brings social workers from all areas of the field together and truly allows for a meeting of the profession
- There would not be ongoing collaboration with Community Mental Health and other like-minded organizations that employ social workers and provide services for our clients
- There would not be the various special interest groups that help to assure that best practices are discussed, shared and understood
- There would not be regular publications with key practice information, community events, or legislative updates distributed statewide
- There would not be regular in-reach to social workers in Michigan to understand the needs of our profession and professionals
- There would not be the availability of response to member concerns on a 7 day a week basis
Specific to schools of social work:
- There would not be easy access to classroom guest lecturers on advocacy, ethics, professional development and career development
- There would not be an outreach by a social work professional association to educate students on the intricacies and importance of licensure and professional standards
- There would be the absence of a major macro practice field placement site
- There would not be biannual policy faculty roundtable meetings
- There would not be an annual Legislative Education and Advocacy Day (LEAD) that brings hundreds of students, faculty and practitioners together to learn about current initiatives
- There would not be a student leadership program (U-Link) that brings students from all campuses together to work on and develop critical social work projects
- There would not be social work student of the year awards honoring exceptional students from every schools of social work in the state
You, as members, make all of the above items happen. All of us at NASW-Michigan are very appreciative of the time and effort you put in to making Michigan social workers some of the best in the country. Although we continue to need your volunteer time and financial support it is important that you understand that without you the spirit of social work in Michigan would be far less than what it is today. Your membership allows us the ability to meet with legislators, to advocate for the profession, and to make sure social work is at the table as critical policy and program decisions are made. When you come to us with concerns it opens the door for NASW-Michigan, your professional association, to be the voice of social workers and your clients.
All of this is my way of saying that we need to celebrate social work and the work we do. It is important to ensure that we are heard and represented when critical decisions are made. Your membership in NASW-Michigan allows this to happen and for that I thank you. Clearly, you are making social work the great profession that it is. Thank you.
Maxine A. Thome, PhD, LMSW, ACSW, MPH. Executive Director, NASW-Michigan Chapter