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News from the Rutgers Social Work Policy Network
February 9, 2021

The second week of Black History Month!
We are grateful to recognize & celebrate the fact that Black Lives Matter. 
Every Month, Day & Hour of the Year.

Honoring Black History Month with RU & PRCC
February 1-28, 2021
Join the RU - New Brunswick community and the Paul Robeson Cultural Center to celebrate Black History Month with events that reflect the richness of the African diaspora and historical contributions of trailblazers.
Learn more at the PRCC website!

Honoring Black History Month with RU & PRCC
February 1-28, 2021
Join the RU - New Brunswick community and the Paul Robeson Cultural Center to celebrate Black History Month with events that reflect the richness of the African diaspora and historical contributions of trailblazers.
Learn more at the PRCC website!

For the People, By the People: New Jersey State Budget 101, NJPP: "The budget reveals short-term and long-term priorities of the state and is, at its very core, a moral document. It is how we pool all of our resources together, mainly through taxes, to fund vital programs and essential services that benefit all of us, including public schools and colleges, highways, mass transit, public-health infrastructure, and the social safety net. Communities, programs, services, and lives depend on the state budget."
Don't miss this important read from NJPP's Crotty Fellow & RU SSW graduate student, Marleina Ubel!

Opioid settlement reached with McKinsey: What NJ will get, and its ties to the company, North Jersey News: "New Jersey will receive about $16 million in an opioid legal settlement with the consulting titan McKinsey & Company... New Jersey is one of 47 states to share $573 million in settlement money to resolve claims that McKinsey 'created and carried out a host of hard-charging sales strategies' used by opioid manufacturers..."

Trenton's Vaughn blasts Gusciora administration for excluding BLM from anti-hate resolution, The Trentonian:  "City officials [last] Tuesday night yanked a non-binding resolution denouncing hate and extremism following last month’s insurrection in Washington, D.C... West Ward Robin Vaughn blasted the administration for leaving out the Black Lives Matter movement of the resolution."

Department of Environmental Protection Enforcement Project to Help Towns Stop Illegal Dumping, Hopatcong Lake Regional News: 
"Communities participating in the initial launch of the Project include Camden, Fairfield, Jersey City, Linden, Newark, Paterson, Salem, Secaucus, Trenton, Vernon and Vineland...The DEP will procure and provide the equipment, bring partners together for broad training on implementing an illegal dumping program at the local level, as well as impart strategies for deterring illegal dumping. The Attorney General’s office will offer guidance and training on pathways for both civil and criminal enforcement."

Childhood traumas: NJ releases first-in-nation plan to fight them, NJ Spotlight: "New Jersey officials released the nation’s first community-driven statewide plan to prevent and reduce the damage done by childhood traumas like abuse, neglect and extreme poverty, which can harm the health and welfare of families for generations. The NJ ACES Statewide Action Plan outlines strategies to help government agencies, health, education, and social service organizations and members of the public better understand and address adverse childhood experiences, or ACES."

N.J. public worker pension fund and taxpayers hit hard by workers’ comp ‘loophole,’ North Jersey News, "A workers’ compensation policy that encourages New Jersey’s government employees to settle for lifelong medical coverage rather than cash benefits lets insurers off the hook at the expense of the public worker pension fund...".Read more on why this matters.

NYC MTA’s New Chief Accessibility Officer Doesn’t Think All Subway Stations Need Elevators, Gothamist:
"Arroyo, [the MTA's new Chief Accessibility Officer's] job will require him to balance being an advocate for the accessibility community, which often calls for nothing less than full accessibility, and a representative for MTA leadership, with all of its financial and physical limitations."

Attorneys demand release of ICE detainees in NJ and NY, citing Biden administration memo, My Central NJ: "As of [last] Tuesday, there have been a total of 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases combined at the five facilities that house both New Jersey and New York residents in ICE custody, according to figures on the ICE website. The Elizabeth detention center had the most confirmed cases, at 39, while Essex County had 24 confirmed cases."

Officials say CHOP will vaccinate Philly teachers, as union protests return to classrooms, KYW: "A mediator is reviewing the dispute that has a lot of School District of Philadelphia teachers continuing to work remotely instead of returning to their classrooms. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers staged a rally in Wynnefield on Monday morning to drive home their message: Teachers should go back to school buildings only when there is an effective plan to vaccinate teachers and ventilate buildings."

Court of Appeals Denies Motion to Stop Line 3, Unicorn Riot: "On February 2, the Minnesota Court of Appeals granted Enbridge the go-ahead to continue construction on the Line 3 pipeline. The ruling denied a lawsuit to stop construction made by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, the Sierra Club, Honor the Earth, and Friends of the Headwaters." A disappointing decision yet unsurprising due to the history of neglect for indigenous communities in federal policy and corporate agendas.
Grassroots resistance continues despite below zero fahrenheit temps.

Police Training Examined in Upcoming Lawsuit, Unicorn Riot:
"A family is preparing for a civil lawsuit this spring against the Columbus Consolidated Government, the Columbus Police Chief, and three police officers who were dispatched to Hector Arreola’s home after he called 911 for help in Jan. 2017. According to court documents, techniques taught in mandatory police training may have contributed to Hector’s death." (TW: Description/images of Police Brutality and Racially Motivated Murder).

ACLU to push reparations bill, Southern expansion, ACLU: "The ACLU ...[is] embarking on an aggressive racial justice agenda that includes support for a reparations bill, expanding resources into southern states, and pushing for rural post offices to adopt basic banking services."

Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Expansions And Child Support Outcomes, IRP: "According to a recent study by Lindsey Bullinger, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansions improved some child support outcomes. States that expanded Medicaid experienced larger increases in payment of both past due and current child support than non-expansion states. In addition, unmarried mothers with a child support order received more child support if they lived in an expansion state than similar mothers not living in expansion states."

Schumer dodges on whether minimum wage increase can survive Senate, Politico: "Led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), many in the Democratic caucus are hopeful that their pursuit of a coronavirus relief bill without GOP votes can include a $15 minimum wage increase. But President Joe Biden, himself a longtime former senator, has raised doubts about the pay increase surviving a challenge to it."

Democratic lawmakers push FDA to lift restrictions on abortion pill, Politico: "Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are asking the Food and Drug Administration to lift rules requiring people seeking medication abortion to obtain pills in-person, citing pandemic-related risks."

Booker reintroduces ‘baby bonds’ bill to give all newborns a $1K savings account, Politico: "Under the so-called baby bonds program, the federal government would open a $1,000 savings account for every American child at birth, with additional deposits of up to $2,000 a year based on household income. Recipients could begin making withdrawals when they turn 18. The program is designed to narrow the racial wealth gap, Booker said."

Education Dept. is disproportionately auditing Black and Latino college students, The Washington Post: "...[Analysis] of federal data found that the Education Department has disproportionately selected students from majority-Black and Latino neighborhoods to provide further proof that the information on their financial aid application is accurate... For at least the last decade, the Education Department has disproportionately selected students from majority Black and Latino neighborhoods to provide further proof that the information on their financial aid application is accurate". Read more to better understand the negative implications of this discriminatory practice.

How the government got in the private prison business, and why it's getting out, KYW: "President Biden recently ordered the Department of Justice to end contracts with federal private prisons in an effort to address racial inequity in the country...Currently in the United States, 2.3 million people are incarcerated. Of those people, 225,000 are in federal prisons and 120,000 are in private prisons."

Biden’s Private Prison Executive Order Doesn’t Undo Mass Incarceration, Truthout: "Although couched in the language of taking on mass incarceration, Biden’s private prison executive order fails to scale back incarceration or to confront racial state violence head-on."

The War on Voting, Popular Information: "A new report by the Brennan Center for Justice, released on Monday, reveals that legislators in 33 states have introduced 165 bills to restrict voting rights. This is not typical. At this time last year, just 35 bills to restrict voting had been introduced."

Track COVID-19 in New Jersey: Maps, graphics, regular updates, NJ Spotlight: "Follow the progression of the disease, with case numbers by county and city, demographics and other metrics."

Only 161K New Jerseyans are fully vaccinated. Can the state reach its 4.7M goal by June?, North Jersey News: "As of Thursday, 876,529 doses had been administered in New Jersey. Under a two-dose system, New Jersey needs 9.4 million doses to be administered to meet its goal of vaccinating 4.7 million people by May or June. That would innoculate 70% of the adult population - a baseline for achieving herd immunity. Although the pace has picked up in New Jersey, so far only 161,000 people are fully vaccinated with both shots."

Disabled Advocates Demand Better Vaccine Access as They Face Greater Risks of Dying from COVID-19, Democracy Now: 
"Some states...are failing to prioritize vaccines for people with serious physical or developmental disabilities, even though studies show they are up to three times more likely to die from COVID-19."

Vaccine inequity prompts calls for federal response, The Hill: 
"More than 35 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the country, but it is becoming increasingly clear that vaccinations have not been equitable for communities of color that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. Several members of Congress have taken notice of the disparity in the past week, with three sets of lawmakers urging the Biden administration to address the situation."

Pandemic’s Toll on Housing: Falling Behind, Doubling Up, NY Times: "As the pandemic enters its second year, millions of renters are struggling with a loss of income and with the insecurity of not knowing how long they will have a home. Their savings depleted, they are running up credit card debt to make the rent, or accruing months of overdue payments. Families are moving in together, offsetting the cost of housing by finding others to share it."

COVID Hardship Watch, CBPP:
According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, "One in 3 children living in rental housing live in a household that didn’t have enough to eat, according to data for December 9–21...And more than 4 in 10 children living in rental housing live in a household that either isn’t getting enough to eat or is not caught up on rent."

Democrats push temporary Obamacare expansion in Covid bill, Politico: 
"Pieces of the Covid-19 relief package House Democrats released Monday night include the first major expansion of Affordable Care Act subsidies in more than a decade — a key plank of President Joe Biden’s health care agenda that they hope to pass in the coming weeks."

Dems try to shoehorn major child poverty reduction plan into Covid bill, Politico: "The proposal, details of which are still being finalized, would provide families a $3,600-per-child allowance for children under the age of 6 over the course of three years. and $3,000 per child for those between the ages of 6 and 17. The size of the benefit would grow smaller at certain yearly income levels — $75,000 for single parents and $150,000 for a couple’s aggregate total — and would be distributed on a monthly basis."

The debate over who deserves a stimulus check, explained, Vox: "As Congress continues to negotiate over the $1.9 trillion stimulus package, a group of bipartisan lawmakers has proposed more limited payments by lowering the income threshold for who gets the full $1,400 benefit. Their proposal would begin phasing out the benefit for individuals earning over $50,000 and married couples earning more than $100,000. Previous stimulus checks had phaseout thresholds at $75,000 per individual and $150,000 per household."

Schumer and Ocasio-Cortez announce funds for families who lost a loved one during Covid but couldn't afford funeral, CNN:
"The New York Democrats announced that families can get reimbursed up to $7,000 for funeral expenses, with $260 million of those funds to be directly allocated to New Yorkers. Eligibility for the funds will be retroactive through the beginning of the pandemic, January 20, 2020, to December 31, 2020, and Schumer says he and Ocasio-Cortez are working to keep the program in place for the rest of the pandemic."

In the Absence of COVID Safety Plans, Teachers Are Resigning and Retiring Early, Truthout: "Nearly half of the teachers of color interviewed — including 43 percent of Black teachers — told researchers that the decision to stop teaching has been hastened by COVID."

Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration by Reuben Jonathan Miller

"...Halfway Home shows that the American justice system was not created to rehabilitate. Parole is structured to keep classes of Americans impoverished, unstable, and disenfranchisedlong after they’ve paid their debt to society."

 -"Informed by Miller’s experience as the son and brother of incarcerated men, captures the stories of the men, women, and communities fighting against a system that is designed for them to fail. It is a poignant and eye-opening call to arms that reveals how laws, rules, and regulations extract a tangible cost not only from those working to rebuild their lives, but also our democracy. As Miller searchingly explores, America must acknowledge and value the lives of its formerly imprisoned citizens."

-Read more about this important book today at 'Halfway Home' Makes Case That The Formerly Incarcerated Are Never Truly Free’

Contact Your Legislator
Urge Congress to Tackle Student Debt with New Jersey Citizen Action

"The Biden administration has promised to take action on student debt and did deliver on the promise of pausing federal student loan payments and interest until October 2021. But there is more to be done and we cannot wait around. There are a few steps that Congress can take now to protect borrowers throughout the rest of the pandemic and beyond."

1. Urge President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 of federal student loan debt.
2. Borrower Defense to Repayment Rule.
3. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
4. Gainful Employment Rule.

"Borrowers need relief now. Congress can take concrete steps to tackle the student debt crisis, protect borrowers, and stimulate the economy but they need to hear from YOU first. Join us in urging the New Jersey Congressional Delegation to take action!" 
Learn more today about student debt & New Jersey Citizen Action.

CBPP State Policy Fellowship
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
A project of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the State Policy Fellowship identifies highly motivated candidates – with a priority for fellows whose identities and experiences are underrepresented in state policy debates – to research policies that advance economic and racial justice. To apply for a State Policy Fellowship, please complete this application form and submit the required materials by February 19, 2021. If you have questions, please contact Eric Figueroa at Learn more about the CBPP State Policy Fellowship here.

Digital Communications Manager (Full Time)
NJ Policy Perspective

The Digital Communications Manager will be responsible for the development and daily execution of NJPP’s digital and video strategy. This is an ideal fit for a creative and digital media-savvy individual who enjoys translating complex policy topics into stories that entertain as much as they inform. Please send your resume, cover letter, and portfolio of work to with the subject line “[Last name] - Digital Communications Manager” by February 22, 2021. In lieu of a portfolio, please link to or attachment three examples of your work with a brief description of your role in the project. Learn more about NJPP's Digital Communications Manager position here.

Kathleen Crotty Fellowship
NJ Policy Perspective

The Kathleen Crotty Fellowship honors Kathy’s legacy by providing an eager, self-motivated student committed to public service with an intensive summer experience working in New Jersey policy and advocacy, under the guidance of experienced mentors at NJPP. Crotty Fellows participate actively in the research and writing of reports, op-eds and blog posts for publication, and will join NJPP analysts in outreach and coalition work. Fellows should come away with experience and networks to help them launch successful careers in New Jersey public service. Fellows receive a $10,000 stipend. Please send your cover letter, resume and writing sample to by March 1 using the subject line format: “Crotty Fellowship 2021 – [Your last name].” Finalists will be contacted by March 8 to schedule an interview. The Fellow will be notified by April 5. No phone calls, please. Learn more about the Crotty Fellowship here.

New York University's Brennan Center presents
America’s Broken Legal System
with Hon. Jed S. Rakoff & Hernandez Stroud
February 17 (6:00 PM EST via Zoom)

Free. Registration Required.
"Too often, the U.S. criminal justice system compels innocent people to plead guilty. It disproportionately incarcerates Black and brown Americans, often for relatively minor offenses. Meanwhile, high-level executives are rarely prosecuted or held accountable for much more serious crimes. Jed S. Rakoff, a federal trial judge and an expert on white-collar crime, examines these and other paradoxes in a new book, Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free: And Other Paradoxes of Our Broken Legal System.
He will be joined by Hernandez Stroud, counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, to discuss the shortcomings of the country’s legal system and propose paths to reform."

Black Mental Health: A Time during Covid-19 and Civil Uprising.
February 18 (6:30 - 7:30 PM EST via Zoom)
Free. Registration Required by February 16.
"The COVID-19 virus has disrupted the world at an unprecedented scale. And over the past several months, Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 compared with their white counterparts. This has only been compounded by widespread civil uprising in protest of racial discrimination and police brutality. Join us for a compelling conversation with Janelle R. Goodwill, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, Kouri Marshall, Co-Founder of ChiGivesBack, Inc., and Suzet McKinneyDrPHMPH, CEO/Executive Director of the Illinois Medical District. The panel will be moderated by Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice alumna Tina K. SacksAM ’98PhD ’13, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley."

Advocating for Educational Equity
February 18 (6:00pm - 7:00 PM EST via Zoom)

Free. Registration Required.
 Join the RU Division of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement for a panel of educational policy and grassroots activists who will discuss how education policy can exacerbate educational inequality and negatively impact students of color's academic success. You will learn how you can exert influence on lawmakers to create policies that will level the playing field for all children and create educational equity.

Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration
A Book Talk with Author Reuben J. Miller
February 19 (12:00 PM EST via Youtube)

Free. Access Livestream Here.
"Each year, nearly 600,000 Americans are released from prison and join a population of twenty million people who live with a felony record. Incarcerated people in the US are met by more than 48,000 laws, policies and administrative sanctions upon release, a supervised society that Reuben Jonathan Miller calls “carceral citizenship...Join Professor Miller as he examines the afterlife of mass incarceration, attending to how U.S. criminal justice policy has changed the social life of the city and altered the contours of American Democracy one (most often poor black American) family at a time. Drawing on ethnographic data collected across three iconic American cities—Chicago, Detroit, and New York—we will explore what it means to live in a supervised society and how we might find our way out. Respondents Broderick Johnson and Anna Haskins will discuss Reuben’s book and how it fits in with their own work. Audience Q&A will follow." Learn more about the Halfway Home Booktalk Here.

Campaign School for Social Workers
Friday and Saturday, February 26-27, 2021 via Zoom
Free. Advanced Registration Required
You belong in politics! The Campaign School for Social Workers is for anyone who wants to be more politically active as a candidate, staff, volunteer and/or advocate for social change. Attendees learn from political social workers and national experts how to run a winning campaign, gain exposure to political career paths, and build valuable skills that can be applied to any practice setting. We have a strong network of more than 2,000 alumni who have gone on to run for elected office, work for elected officials, volunteer in campaigns, and/or serve as advocates for social change. Register today!
Learn More & Register for the 2021 Campaign School for Social Workers

28th Annual NASW-NJ Conference & Exhibition 
March 7-8 via Zoom (Review session times via website)
Free for Student Members of NASW & Affordable Options for Student Non-Member of NASW
Registration Required.
The NASW-NJ Annual Conference is the must-attend event of the year for New Jersey's social workers. The conference brings together over 1,000 participants from across New Jersey and nationwide for 2 days of learning, laughter, and networking. With dynamic keynote speakers, cutting-edge workshops, and engaging special presentations, attendees have the opportunity to earn up to 22 Continuing Education credits during the event.

Social work has a complex history of upholding white privilege alongside a goal to achieve racial justice. Moreover, our profession simultaneously practices within racist systems and works to dismantle them. The 2021 NASW-NJ Virtual Conference will present an opportunity to examine our profession’s relationship to white privilege and racial justice in order to reimagine an anti-racist future.

Fine & Punishment
When you commit a crime, yes, you are entitled to an attorney, but you don't get a free attorney. You have to pay for it...But people convicted of crimes are also paying for things that have nothing to do with committing crimes or using state resources. Like they pay into a state fund for child abuse and into another fund to support traumatic hospital cases. Today on the show, how states rely on people with criminal records to fund basic government functions, and how it creates perverse incentives.

The Social Work Policy Network's e-newsletter is created by:
Brittany Libby, MSW Graduate Student, Network Research Assistant
Dr. Lenna Nepomnyaschy, RU Associate Professor, Network Founder

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