Metro DC Advocacy Work

Advancing the Social Work Profession and Social Justice

What does NASW Metro DC Chapter do to influence DC policy and regulations?

Advocacy on professional practices and social justice has been core to the mission of NASW and its Metro DC Chapter since its inception. The chapter monitors bills; communicates chapter stances to city council members and regulators; educates elected officials on the needs of social workers and issues related to behavioral and mental health; advocates for social justice; helps craft or influence bill/resolution language; and alerts and activates social workers, chapter members, and social work students about when and how to use their power as knowledgeable constituents to influence policy outcomes.

The chapter also collaborates with DC coalitions, organizations, and partners on issues such as:

  • Parity
  • Solitary Confinement
  • Mental Health Funding
  • Social Work Workforce Development
  • Racial Equity and Justice
  • Student Debt and Forgiveness
  • Reproductive Justice
  • LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Affordable Housing
  • Gun Violence and Gun Safety
  • Poverty Reduction
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy

COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: 

The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ends May 11, 2023. NASW has developed resources for social workers to assist with the “unwinding” of pandemic relief waivers for Medicare/Medicaid patients (beginning in DC in April 2023) and to advocate for telehealth permanence and other pandemic-related issues that improve access and care of clients.

Metro DC social workers are invited to:

Contact Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE, at to volunteer for the chapter’s Policy Committee or NASW’s PACE Committee (candidate vetting and endorsements).

Advocacy is social work, so please stay abreast of our progress through our emailed action alerts and our newsletter, social media, and website.

How can I advocate on social justice and professional practice issues in DC?

  1. Write, call, or visit your council member and other elected officials. We encourage you to use NASW and chapter resources and research as background in formulating your personal opinion. Please be aware that no one is authorized to speak publicly for the chapter except the executive director and president, unless you have Metro DC Chapter-specific talking points about a certain bill and a call to action. You should be clear in your communications that you are speaking as an individual DC social worker.
  2. Follow NASW Metro DC Chapter on social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram for policy statement updates and more advocacy news (@NASWDCMETRO). Use your social media to share our legislative alerts and updates! 
  3. Read your members-only bimonthly NASW Metro DC newsletter to stay up to date on calls to action and on advocacy issue updates.
  4. Invite social work colleagues to join NASW so they can add their voices to DC advocacy efforts. The more social workers who call, write, and visit, the more lawmakers will listen and feel prompted to act!
  5. Order the latest Social Work Speaks Speaks, which contains all NASW policy statements approved by the Delegate Assembly, as well as how-to information about advocating for the social work profession and your clients. All chapter policy statements and legislative/regulatory strategies must align with and/or support NASW’s national advocacy goals and current policy statements. 
  6. Follow NASW on all major social media platforms to stay abreast of national advocacy opportunities and progress on the organization’s strategic priorities. You also can read Social Work Advocates and view the latest news releases.  

Advocacy Matters at the National Level, Too

The social work profession was founded in social change. Throughout the profession’s history, social workers have sought to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources and opportunities that allow them to meet their basic needs. NASW upholds this challenge by advocating for the association to members of Congress and regulatory agencies that so often hold the authority to influence policy.  

NASW has developed a policy agenda that asserts the association’s advocacy priorities for the legislative cycle. NASW’s policy agenda is consistent with the NASW policies in Social Work Speaks, which is developed by members of the association at Delegate Assembly. 

Want to know what the key Policy Issues are for NASW this year? Learn more here

The NASW website has many resources available, including advocacy-related tools, guides, and other materials under the Advocacy tab. Here are some quick links:

  1. Become more effective by adopting these Advocacy Tips
  2. Sign up for Legislative Alerts.
  3. Read blog entries related to advocacy.
  4. Read Advancing the American Agenda: How the Social Work Profession Will Help.
  5. Skim the latest Washington Update
  6. Check out a podcast from NASW's Social Work Talks: Episode 9 - Social Workers and Advocacy.Advocacy.
  7. Increasing voter participation is a social work issue. View our webinar series on protecting voter rights, mobilizing voters, and engaging as social and political activists.
  8. Follow current legislation in Congress and track how your representatives voted.
  9. View NASW Comments and Statements, as well as sign-on letters that promote our public policy goals.
  10. Get involved with NASW's Political Action Committee, Political Action for Candidate Election (PACE)Election (PACE).
  11. See which members of Congress are social workers!

Local Resources

District of Columbia

  • DC City Council: The official site of the Council of the District of Columbia.
  • DC Watch: DC Watch is an online magazine that covers local citpolitics and public affairs in Washington, DC. In addition to articles and columns about political issues and politicians, DC Watch features resources for civic activists and background material on legislation and current events in the District of Columbia.
  • DC Vote: DC Vote was formed to develop and coordinate solution-oriented proposals that aim to achieve full democratic equality for DC residents. Under DC Vote’s umbrella, creative proposals are incubated and vetted to determine possibilities for consensus and advancement into the policy arena. DC Vote welcomes citizens, advocates, thought leaders, scholars, and policymakers seeking to advance its cause. 
  • DC Docs: Subscribe to free DC government email newsletters by clicking on the link. 
  • NASW Advocacy: NASW's Government Relations staff is fighting hard to make the voice of professional social workers heard on Capitol Hill. Learn how you can take action on the federal issues important to social workers.
  • DC Appleseed Center: DC Appleseed solves problems affecting the daily lives of those who live and work in the Metro DC area, from healthcare to voting representation to education reform to environmental concerns to jobs and housing. It works with volunteer attorneys, business leaders, and community experts to identify the issues, conduct research and analysis, make specific recommendations for reform, and advocate effective solutions. The staff organizes project teams and leverages thousands of hours of pro bono time.