The Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP) hosted its fifth annual Social Work Day on the Hill on March 20 in Washington, D.C. The day focused on the profession’s historical and current efforts to improve societal conditions through innovation and policy reform.
The first event, at the National Press Club, featured a panel on the Grand Challenges for Social Work federal policy recommendation to create a Child Development Account (CDA) for every newborn in America. CDAs are subsidized accounts that enable families to accumulate assets to invest in children’s development and life goals, such as postsecondary education, homeownership, business development and retirement security.
Brown School Dean Mary McKay delivered remarks, and then panelists presented findings from CDA and asset-based research experiments. Michael Sherraden, Signe-Mary McKernan and William Elliott III discussed findings showing improvement in these areas: mothers’ mental health and parenting practices; parents’ educational expectations of children; and social development of the children. Colleen Quint presented evidence from Maine’s statewide CDA program, which automatically opens a 529 college savings account for every newborn resident in the state. The full video of the panel can be watched here. The following is an edited excerpt from Michael Sherraden’s opening remarks.
The presenters’ final remarks emphasized key policy takeaways:
- Wealth inequality is harming the United States, and CDA policy is one strategy for increasing assets for all;
- CDAs can be a tool for workforce development;
- It would be most efficient to use an existing policy structure (529 college savings plan) and transform it to serve the whole population.
The second part of the day featured early-career social workers who answered questions about how social work can help save democracy. The topic arose from a discussion the National Association of Deans and Directors of Social Work had in response to Nancy MacLean’s book “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.”
A reception capped the day, honoring the contributions social workers have made and continue to make in the U.S. Congress and the federal government.