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Policy Updates from the Rutgers Social Work Policy Network
March 23, 2021

Updates from the Social Work Policy Network
The Social Work Policy Network sends weekly resources regarding national & local legislature, events, as well as media. Today, we focus on social justice for AAPI populations, conditions at the southern US border, and high covid-19 rates in New Jersey.

Asian American Lives and Livelihoods Don't Just Deserve our Qualified Support, RAND Corp:
"Shortly after eight people were murdered in and around Atlanta on March 16, a few key facts were widely reported: six of the eight victims were Asian American women, and the suspect denied race was a motive, blaming his 'sex addiction'. These facts make it possible for some to deny that racism played a role in the attacks, or that systemic racism against Asian Americans still exists in this country…

Racism against Asian Americans is deeply rooted in the history of the United States. Enduring stereotypes about and bias towards Asian Americans, as well as lack of concern about them, have had longstanding harm on Asian American lives and livelihoods. The devastating event that unfolded in Atlanta was a reminder that people act on those stereotypes, but that justice still behaves as though it 'doesn't see color'."

LOCAL UPDATES
N.J. unemployment agents would be assigned to work directly with legislative offices under new bill, NJ.com: "S3505 would require the Department of Labor to assign at least one unemployment claims handler to each legislative district and partisan office during the coronavirus pandemic, appropriating $1.8 million of the CARES Act funds. It advanced out of the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee unanimously Monday."

Tax Day in NJ now May 17, NJ.com: "State officials said Friday they used discretionary powers to make the delay and would release “formal guidance” on the decision soon."

Legislature asked to extend year of services for students with special needs, NJ Spotlight: "Many families of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities say the state has failed to recognize just how disruptive the year-long gap in in-person learning has been for those with special needs, especially for students close to aging out of the system."

State wants schools to submit student performance data to gauge COVID-19 ‘learning loss’, NJ Spotlight: "Using results collected up until mid-February, the interim data will mark students at, above or below grade level in language arts, math and science, the guidance said. The administration said that performance grading is aimed to give the state a detailed view of whether and where students have regressed during the pandemic."

Homelessness in N.J. increased before pandemic, annual count shows, NJ.com: "New Jersey’s homeless population grew by 9% last year, a bigger increase than 42 other states, according to a study from the Department of Housing and Urban Development."

‘Our state has forgotten us’ - Immigrant groups sour on New Jersey’s liberal governor, Politico: "Advocates say they feel increasingly left out of Gov. Phil Murphy’s agenda, as their calls for Covid relief for undocumented residents have been largely ignored."

About 50 people testify in support of N.J. bill that would give civilians more police oversight, NJ.com: A group of New Jersey lawmakers approved a bill [last] Wednesday to give residents more power to investigate local cops, after dozens of people from around the state testified they’d lost faith in police departments’ ability to investigate their own." 

NATIONAL UPDATES
White House Eyes Sweeping $3T Spending Proposal, The Hill: "The Biden administration is preparing a massive spending proposal on infrastructure and other domestic priorities like child care and drug costs that could put fights over hot-button issues like climate change and taxes front and center."

Biden’s border policies are under scrutiny. His administration is racing to find solutions, Vox: "Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced new measures on Tuesday to accommodate increasing numbers of unaccompanied migrant children arriving on the southern border as the Biden administration comes under fire for detaining them in inhumane conditions."

Number of Unaccompanied Migrant Children Held More than 10 Days Quadruples in Past Week, The Hill: "The number of migrant children being held in U.S. Border Patrol custody for longer than 10 days has quadrupled in the past week.. U.S. Border Patrol facilities are only permitted to hold children for 73 hours, but DHS documents leaked to the news outlet reportedly show that 3,314 children have been held in custody for longer than that limit, with 2,226 being held for more than five days and 823 for more than 10 days."

What is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Do I Qualify For It?, ProPublica: "The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is meant to reduce the amount that low- and moderate-income Americans have to pay in taxes - and it can sometimes result in a refund. Figuring out whether you qualify can be confusing. This guide can help."

Hair style discrimination could be federal crime after N.J. wrestler was forced to cut his dreadlocks, NJ.com: "And on Monday, two New Jersey members of Congress, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12th Dist., proposed federal legislation blocking discrimination against hair styles associated with race or national origin, including tightly coiled or tightly-curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots and Afros."

The House just passed a sweeping and bipartisan bill to boost unions, Vox: If enacted into law, the PRO Act would be one of the most dramatic changes to US labor law in decades. One of the bill’s most significant provisions is a policy that would override state right-to-work laws that weaken unions by letting unionized workers not pay dues. It would also create tougher penalties for employers who interfere in employees’ efforts to unionize."

Medicaid Is Key to Building a System of Comprehensive Substance Use Care for Low-Income People, CBPP:"Robust and reliable funding for substance use disorder (SUD) services is essential for closing the treatment gap, where fewer than 13 percent of the 21 million-plus people who need substance use services get any. A comprehensive system of SUD care would provide a full continuum of treatment and recovery services to people living with all types of substance use disorders, integrate care for their co-occurring physical and mental health conditions, advance racial equity in treatment access and quality, and connect people with services to meet their social needs. Medicaid should be the foundation for funding comprehensive care for people with low incomes."

Supportive Housing Can Help Keep People with Mental Illness Out of Jail, RAND Corporation: "Sheriffs around the country have complained that their local lockups now double as psychiatric hospitals. By any number of measures—costs, health outcomes, recidivism rates—the system is a failure. Researchers at RAND have been tracking a different approach in Los Angeles. The effort is still small, compared with the need, but it has helped several thousand people stay in treatment, in housing, and out of trouble."

Eleven years after its signing, the Affordable Care Act is drawing hundreds of thousands of enrollments, NY Times: "But Mr. Biden now has a new challenge: living up to his campaign promise to expand the law, including creating a “public option” for a government-run insurance plan, and tackling not only the rising cost of health insurance premiums but also the costs of prescription drugs. For that, he will need the cooperation of Congress."

COVID-19
After early stumbles, state hotline delivers more vaccination appointments for seniors, NJ Spotlight: "According to the state Department of Health, the percentage of New Jerseyans over age 75 — the group most at risk for death from the virus — who have received at least one COVID-19 shot nearly doubled since late last month. The DOH said it has since expanded the effort to focus on the wider 65-and-over demographic."

Could COVID ‘vaccine passports’ be key to more N.J. reopening? Murphy says he’s open to concept, but it’s up to CDC, NJ.com: "Gov. Phil Murphy says he’s open to the idea of a so-called vaccine passport for the coronavirus to be used to get on a plane or go to a Giants game in the future. But he stopped short on saying it is something New Jersey would implement."

Vaccine mystery - Why J&J’s shots aren’t reaching more arms, Politico: "Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Covid vaccine was supposed to be the catalyst for the country’s return to normal. Instead, it’s sparking confusion and finger-pointing between the states and the Biden administration over why millions of doses are sitting unused."

As variants spread and travel increases, the C.D.C. director urged caution to prevent 'another avoidable surge.', NY Times: "Virus variants are making up a bigger share of cases...  A variant first discovered in California that now accounts for over half of the state’s cases is spreading in Nevada and Arizona. A fast-spreading variant first located in Britain is now responsible for nine percent of cases in New Jersey and eight percent of cases in Florida..."

ACTION OPPORTUNITY
Tell Biden & the U.S. Senate to Protect the Post Office!
The Senate is now considering the nominations for new Postal Governors. The Board of Governors will decide who will be Postmaster General, whether mail service will be improved, whether post offices will be closed, and other important policies. It's critical the Senate vote on nominees by April 30.

Nominate people to the Postal Board of Governors who are on record for their commitment to making financial stability accessible for all – including through postal banking that could help address the racial wealth gap, particularly for Black communities most impacted.

Sign this ACLU petition to protect our post office & invest to invest in our communities!

UPCOMING EVENTS
We Can Do Better: Cross-System Approaches for Addressing Child Maltreatment
March 23 (3:00 - 4:30 PM EST via Zoom)
Free. Registration Required.
The discussion will focus on the possibility of different approaches to child maltreatment prevention and intervention—solutions that would significantly shrink the role of child welfare systems, which, as currently organized, are almost exclusively reactive rather than proactive.

Abolishing the Child Welfare System and Re-Envisioning Child Well-Being.
March 25 (6:00 - 8:00 PM EST via Zoom)
March 26 (11:00 AM - 6:00 PM EST via Zoom)
March 27 (11:00 AM - 5:30 PM EST via Zoom)

Free. Registration Required.
A symposium that marks the 20th anniversary of Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare written by law professor and symposium keynote speaker, Dorothy Roberts. Academics from multiple fields as well as impacted parents and youth, community members, advocates, and activists will present on this topic.

The Criminalization of Race in America
March 29 (4:30 - 6:00 PM EST via Zoom)
Free. Registration Required.
"The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. With white Americans making up the majority of citizens, there is a disproportionate number of black and brown people in the criminal justice system. This conversation will explore the roots of the criminalization of race in America, the policies that enable this, and how this effects the current landscape, with particular attention to immigration and detention."

Eyes on Abolition: Amplify Your Voice with Feminista Jones
March 31 (1:00 PM - 2:30 PM EST* via Zoom)
*note: event is hosted in different time zone. Follow EST.
Free. Registration Required.
"For Social Work month, we will explore social work’s history of collaboration and cooperation with carceral systems including policing and foster care with Feminista Jones, retired social worker, feminist writer, public speaker, and community activist. We will discuss how social work’s history aligns with our values and professional mandate to fight against systems that perpetuate injustice and oppression. How do social workers reconcile our history? How do we move forward?"

MEDIA OF THE WEEK
For The Wild: Immigration, Assimilation & Earth-Based Wisdom.
In this week’s episode, we speak with artist, immigration lawyer, and activist Carolina Rubio MacWright on the ongoing travesty of family separations, the inherent trauma of U.S. detention centers, and how we can begin revamping our laws, values, policies, and systems when it comes to migration.

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

Are you aware of any policy updates, events or academic articles that you wish to see in this newsletter? Submit your contributions to us via RUSSWSPN@gmail.com.

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