A Letter from Austin’s Social Workers

June 23, 2020

Open Letter to Mayor Adler, City Council, City Manager Spencer Cronk

Dear City Leaders,

The undersigned social work professionals support and applaud your efforts to move many functions and associated tax dollars out of the police department and invest instead in alternative ways to address crisis calls.

Social workers are required to support social justice for individuals and communities as part of our practice and in accordance with our ethical standards. 1

Police have too often meted out harm instead of helping those in crisis. For many of our community members, it is dangerous and/or life-threatening to engage with police who are often the first responders for a mental health crisis. Social workers are able to de-escalate and address family crises, mental health crises, crises based in past trauma and much more, and we do so regularly and without an armed police officer standing in front of us. In fact, there are many circumstances in which the presence of an armed officer further escalates a crisis that could have been better handled by mental health professionals alone. 

APD’s racist outcomes have been evidenced again and again — from APD’s own racial profiling data to the Tatum report, to sniping 16 year old Brad Ayala without provocation. This pattern of systemic racism is resistant to reform and directly counter to our social work values.2

There is widespread support among social workers, including NASW (National Association of Social Workers), for reallocating funds from police budgets to social service programs. A June 18th press release from the NASW stated “NASW applauds states and localities that – with or without federal mandates that incentivize policing reform – plan to reallocate and reinvest their public safety budgets to provide behavioral health, social services, crisis intervention (de-escalation) training and other programs.

Our own position is even more clearly stated, in relevant part, in a national letter signed by more than a thousand social workers and submitted to the NASW yesterday:

“…we believe the best use of our collective power is to join with the voices of those who are calling for divestment from law enforcement and reallocation of those funds to support families and communities, which includes social services, but also grassroots efforts to fight poverty, hunger, lack of affordable housing, and police violence.

As such, we encourage our leadership to do the following:

  • Publicly endorse the national Black Lives Matter Petition to defund the police and reinvest “in our communities and the resources to ensure Black people not only survive, but thrive.”
  • Craft a position statement on the divestment and reinvestment of law enforcement budgets that excludes the expansion of law enforcement and instead supports community-driven alternatives to public safety.”

 

Yours Sincerely,

Will Francis, LMSW. Executive Director NASW Texas

Dana Reichman, LMSW

Callison Keating, LMSW

Nakia Winfield, MSW

Camille Smith, MSW

Nicole Meitzen, LMSW

Rachel Gandy, MSSW

Paige Reitz, LCSW

Rachel Manning, MSW

Alison Mohr Boleware, LMSW

Stephanie Holmes, LMSW

Cristina Coupal, LMSW

Jorge Antonio Renaud, MSSW

Jessica Oakley, LMSW

Heather Jones, LMSW

Asha Dane’el, MSSW, MPAff

Louise Hanks, LMSW

Sarah Chalmers, LCSW

Sarah R. Gonzalez, LCSW

Karen Mendoza LCSW-S

Paula Taylor, LCSW

Cristina Coupal, LMSW

Alexandra Cogan, MSSW

Jaynna Sims, MSSW

Mary M. Elizabeth, MSW

Audrey Sherman LMSW

Elexia A. Lowe, LMSW

Monique Vasquez MSSW

Claire Leonard, MSSW

Claire Hodgins, LMSW

Ashley Coulter, LMSW

Susan Kierney LMSW

Lisa Rogers LMSW

Amanda Pouncy-Ross, MSSW candidate, MPH candidate

Sara Rhone, LMSW

Patricia Greenmyer, LMSW

Jelena Todic, PhD, MSW

Jim Rowell, MSSW Candidate

Megan McDonald, LCSW

Kathryn Lewin, LMSW

Cassandra Najera, LBSW

Shawna Williams, LCSW

Colleen M. Maher, LMSW

Holly Kirby, MSSW

Mark McKim, MSSW Candidate 

Elizabeth Stockwell, LMSW 

Katherine Early, BSW, MSSW candidate

Matthew Vitemb, LCSW 

Caitlin Gorman, LMSW

Lizzy Rand, LMSW

Travis Singley, MSSW

Kyle Harmon, MSSW Candidate

Christina Alexander MSSW Candidate

Sofie Cardinal, MSSW

Korin Schruben, LCSW

Sara Reyes, LMSW

Emma Holder, MSSW

Sandra Olarte-Hayes, LCSW

Alisa Ardiel Hernández, MSSW candidate and MPAff candidate

Sarah K. Sloan, LCSW-S

 

Chelsea DeBernardis, MSSW Candidate

Leeann Terwilliger, LCSW

Suzanne Moyer, LMSW

Erica Foster, MSSW candidate

Avery Nelson, MSSW student

Zach Patton LCSW

Molly Cohen, MSSW Candidate

Terranisha R. Hiley, MSSW Candidate

Jennifer Campbell, MSSW

Melissa McRoy Shearer, LBSW

Rachel Tamer, LCSW-S

Brian Kunde, QMHP III Child & Family Therapist

Jasmin Estrada, LCSW Psychotherapist

Samantha Foss, LMSW Director of Development and Communications

Beth Castellow, Therapist

Tiffany Hart, BSSW Homeless Services Specialist

Miranda Nolen, Mitigation Specialist

Erika Gonzalez, Project Director

Hannah O’Brien, Program manager

Liana Petruzzi, Medical social worker and doctoral student

Mallory Hakes, Court Liaison

Mar Padilla, Training manager

Amanda Beatriz Williams, MSW Executive Director

Monica McCarthy, Program Specialist

Ramon R Gomez, MSSW Director, Student and Community Affairs

Macy Margolin, Grant Writing

Daniel Shea, LMSW

Stacy Nakell, Psychotherapist

Aditi Narayan Minkoff, MSSW Director of Navigation

Kelley Roberts, LCSW Behavioral Health Specialist

Matt Dietrichson, Therapist

Markel Archie, Social Service Worker

Ann Dills, MSW, Program Specialist

Kyra Henderson, BSW Data Coordinator

Alyssa Ramirez, Case Manager

David Jenkins, Psychotherapist

Courtney Szigetvari, LMSW Social Worker

Molly Mayberry, Clinical Social Worker

Lindsey Knowles, Program Manager

Lyndsi Blank, LCSW-S LPHA Team Lead

Eva Ackerman, BSW

Amanda Herrera, LCSW

Venenzia Johnson, MSSW Candidate

Gianni Luisi, BSW

Ky Haven, SmartKids Coordinator

Ashley Cheng, MSSW Student

Maura Kinney, LMSW Group Facilitator,

Caitlin Riojas LCSW,

Cossy Hough, LCSW Instructor

Jamie Gallegos, Development Coordinator

Michael Fraser, Case Manager

Alycia Castillo, Youth Justice Policy Analyst

Dwight Dugan, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Jeremy Bennick, Counselor

Kristin Myrick, LMSW Therapist

Adam Benden, LMSW, Clinical Social Worker,

Social Workers United – ATX ATX-Based Organization of Radical Social Workers

Emily Bresnahan, LGSW, MPAff Forensic Social Worker

Danielle J. Kaplan, LCSW

Mia Roldan, Clinical Social Worker

Kathryn Lewin, School social worker

Jana Dunkley, Medical Social Worker

Dorothea Pitikas, Clinical Social Worker

Sharlene Eaton-Landis, Program Specialist

Kaitlyn Doerge, MSSW Researcher,

Jocelyn Chamra-Barrera, Program Manager

Sarah Beddingfield, MSW

Alissa Sughrue, LMSW Policy Coordinator

Maureen Havelka, Therapist/Clinical supervision

Beth Thomas, LCSW

Danielle Silva, LMSW

Apryl Rosas, Project Coordinator

Kerry Clark, BSW Case Manager

Adam MacDonald, Psychotherapist

Clarissa Pedraza, Medical Social Worker

Julio Gomez, United Nations Consultant, Board Member

Caitlin Gorman, LMSW

Julieth Reyes, Care Coordinator

Shechinah S. Lewis, MSW Medical Case Manager

Natalie Beck, Assistant Professor of Social Work

Marilyn Adams, LMSW

Meghan Graham, LMSW

Melissa Lebet, Clinical Case Manager

Michael Ann Angone, School Social Worker

Gia Marie Houck, Retired Social Worker

Valerie Leal, LMSW Clinical Case Manager

Mandy Colbert,Health Promotion Coordinator

Whitney Laas, LMSW Senior Manager

Catherine Lee, LCSW Therapist

Emily P Johnson, LMSW

Elizabeth Pierce, Therapist

Alexandra Elder, LCSW

Lauren Hargraves, LMSW

Nadia Velasquez, LCSW

Jordan Chaplik, Program Manager

Ashley Vidal, Case Manager

Kayla Hartman, LMSW Currently unemployed

Ruby Branson, MSSW Student

Hanna DelToro, LCSW

Nicole Powell Cantu, LCSW

Anna Jackson, MSSW Consultant

Elizabeth D. Gonzalez, LMSW

 

Corinne Hurlbert, MSSW candidate

Ana Vidina Hernández, MSSW

Clarissa Pedraza, LBSW, MSW student

Katie May, MSSW

Clara Peretz, MSSW Candidate

Chloe Goodman, MSSW Candidate 

Tatum Troutt, LBSW, MPAFF Candidate

 

  1.  6.04 Social and Political Action

    (a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.

    (b) Social workers should act to expand choice and opportunity for all people, with special regard for vulnerable, disadvantaged, oppressed, and exploited people and groups.

    (c) Social workers should promote conditions that encourage respect for cultural and social diversity within the United States and globally. Social workers should promote policies and practices that demonstrate respect for difference, support the expansion of cultural knowledge and resources, advocate for programs and institutions that demonstrate cultural competence, and promote policies that safeguard the rights of and confirm equity and social justice for all people.

    (d) Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical ability.

  2. Value: Service

    Ethical Principle: Social workers’ primary goal is to help people in need and to address social problems.

    Social workers elevate service to others above self-interest. Social workers draw on their knowledge, values, and skills to help people in need and to address social problems. Social workers are encouraged to volunteer some portion of their professional skills with no expectation of significant financial return (pro bono service).

    Value: Social Justice

    Ethical Principle: Social workers challenge social injustice.

    Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social workers’ social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice. These activities seek to promote sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social workers strive to ensure access to needed information, services, and resources; equality of opportunity; and meaningful participation in decision making for all people.

    Ethical Principle: Social workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person.

    Social workers treat each person in a caring and respectful fashion, mindful of individual differences and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social workers promote clients’ socially responsible self-determination. Social workers seek to enhance clients’ capacity and opportunity to change and to address their own needs. Social workers are cognizant of their dual responsibility to clients and to the broader society. They seek to resolve conflicts between clients’ interests and the broader society’s interests in a socially responsible manner consistent with the values, ethical principles, and ethical standards of the profession.

    Value: Importance of Human Relationships

    Ethical Principle: Social workers recognize the central importance of human relationships.

    Social workers understand that relationships between and among people are an important vehicle for change. Social workers engage people as partners in the helping process. Social workers seek to strengthen relationships among people in a purposeful effort to promote, restore, maintain, and enhance the well-being of individuals, families, social groups, organizations, and communities.