Social Work Advocacy Needed Now More Than Ever

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There is now a formal acknowledgment at a state and national level to address social determinants of health—New York State Department of Health is in the process of implementing the Section 1115 New York Health Equity Reform Waiver with the goal of addressing health equity and external factors that impact an individual’s health.


If an individual has a history of trauma, and lacks adequate housing or experiences food insecurity, this only compounds the barriers that they are facing. While interventions that assist individuals and families with their current needs should be the priority, we need to begin to address the systemic issues that continue to perpetuate the ongoing cycles of poverty. It is only in support of long-term stability of individuals and families that we can begin to assist them in their journey to address trauma in their lives.


Historically, training provided to social workers has primarily focused on individual and family interventions. However, the current healthcare landscape calls on social workers to advocate for policies that benefit increasing opportunities and strengthening the safety net for individuals in our communities.


As social workers, we need to have a voice in conversations related to systemic change and provide recommendations to policy makers and community leaders. We have a unique perspective and viewpoint because of our connection to communities and the location of our services.


How social workers can act in their communities:


·         Follow coalition websites that provide information on legislation and policy, such as the NY Health Home Coalition, Care Management Coalition, and National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

·         Find local organizations that are providing services in your community and follow events and information that they are posting.

·         Seek out local chapters and coalitions that bring partners together to share resources and best practices, including the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Single Point of Access (SPOA) programs, and Community Action Agencies (CAA).


Peter Bauman, LCSW-R, PMP, is the Senior Director for the Greater Rochester Health Home Network (GRHHN). Mr. Bauman has more than twenty years in the healthcare field. Recently, he was the Director of Operations for the Finger Lakes Performing Provider System (FLPPS) where he provided oversight in the Finger Lakes region for New York State Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) Program projects and initiatives that aimed to fundamentally restructure healthcare delivery by increasing primary care physician engagement and promoting interventions that address social determinants of health. Prior to FLPPS he held various leadership positions at managed care companies where he utilized his expertise to implement workflows and processes to improve patient quality by increasing patient and provider engagement. Peter is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who earned his Project Management Certification 2010 and is a Lean Six Sigma Certified Green Belt.

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