Arizona Social Workers Tackle the Tough Issues

The National Association of Social Workers has asked the Trump administration to declare gun violence a national health emergency on par with the opioid crisis. Photo Credit: Rich Legg/iStockphoto

Suzanne Potter
Public News Service

PHOENIX — Hundreds of social workers will gather in Phoenix this Friday November 3rd, to tackle some of the toughest ethical and political issues facing society – from mass shootings to health care, child abuse and drug addiction.

There are about 10,000 social workers in the state working to address behavioral, mental and emotional issues in various settings – child welfare agencies, hospitals, schools, mental health clinics and human services programs. Jeremy Arp, executive director of the Arizona chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, said the profession has no shortage of challenges.

“Some of the minefields that we’re navigating these days would be trauma due to different events happening around us, whether it be gun violence, child welfare,” Arp said; “also looking at the opioid epidemic.”

The NASW recently called on President Donald Trump to declare gun violence a national health emergency, which would focus resources to combat a problem that takes more than 35,000 lives a year between homicides and suicides. The group has also taken stands on issues that threaten family stability.

The conference, called Social Workers Stand Up, will be held at the Desert Willow Center in Phoenix.

NASW opposes efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which expanded Medicaid and extended medical coverage to more than 20 million Americans. Arp said social workers need to stay engaged in the political process, by voting and weighing in at community forums.

“Making sure that you pay attention to what’s going on in the news and what’s going on at the State Capitol with funding for health and human services, as well as education and welfare programming,” he said.

NASW has criticized Trump’s decision to revoke the DACA program, saying the Dreamers – people brought to the U.S. as children – have contributed a great deal to society. The group also opposes the large cuts in social service programs in the President’s proposed budget.