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Town Hall for SWHPN Members - Join us!

SWHPN has been one of the leading voices challenging the ASWB's approach to discussing racism in testing for licensing social workers. We've done this through several official statements, as shared on our blog last month. What more should SWHPN be doing to address these issues? What additional actions would be helpful?

We would like to invite our members to join us on Friday, October 7, from 1-2 pm EST / 10 am-11 am PST for a member-only Town Hall Meeting. At this event, several SWHPN Board members will be leading a conversation discussing our actions challenging the ASWB’s latest report, and what additional work we are taking on to challenge racism in the hospice and palliative care field. We hope you can join us for this lively and engaging conversation, and help us become more involved
! To register for the Town Hall, click here.

APHSW-C Announces Transition to the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center (HPCC)

The Advanced Palliative and Social Work Certification Board of Directors is excited to announce the transition of the APHSW-C program to the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center (HPCC). The APHSW-C program will join the five hospice and palliative care programs within the HPCC certification portfolio. 

“Because hospice and palliative care are interprofessional and team-based, it only makes sense that the professions should join in their efforts to develop and maintain certification of the involved specialties,” said Barbara Head, PhD, CHPN, ACSW, FPCN, APHSW-C, a member of the APHSW Board of Directors. “I am excited about the synergy that will result when we join forces in this important endeavor.”

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SWHPN responds to McWhorter's NYT op-ed

We, the board members of the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) recently made a statement in response to the demographic data released by the Association of the Social Work Boards (ASWB). We noted our concern about the inevitable inherent racial bias embedded in the exam. Representing an organization of social workers working to bring humanity to serious illness and end-of-life care, we continue to reflect on ways to challenge the systems that deny and defy the basic humanity in all of us. It is in this endeavor that we respond to the recent New York Times opinion piece written by John McWhorter

In his opinion piece, Mr. McWhorter takes issue with the protest against the ASWB exam as racist. He points to the petition on Change.org and derides it for not sufficiently explaining why the tests are racist. Whether or not you believe the assertion that the test is racist depends on whether or not you believe the educational system in the United States, from preschool to graduate school, is embedded in a racist system and is infused with racist practices. There has been sufficient research data that support the fact that there are “categorical inequalities between Black and white students” in disciplinary policies, access to advanced courses, assignment to gifted and talented and special needs programs, and in practices of racialized tracking. The truth is that 68 years since the US Supreme Court ruling in Brown v Board of Education, high levels of racial and economic segregation persist in most metropolitan areas and with it, disparities in education. 

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SWHPN's statement in response to the ASWB report

The Social Work and Hospice Care Network (SWHPN) is compelled to issue this statement in response to the demographic data released by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) on the racial composition of social workers passing the licensure exams.

SWHPN applauds the dissemination of this important data, and we are deeply troubled by it. We, like many social work organizations during the past few years, have proclaimed our outrage at the structures of white privilege and our commitment to racial justice in our profession and the larger society. It is in this context that we express profound alarm and dismay at learning of the low pass rates of our Black colleagues on the licensure exams. We believe that this data is the product of the implicit racial bias embedded in the ASWB exam -- a bias that is pernicious and pervasive throughout the education and practice institutions of the United States. Immeasurable injury is exacted to our profession when the ASWB exams prescribe ideas of a "knowledge" that is steeped in dominant white cultural values and ways of knowing. There are no tools of racism and colonialism more powerful than pedagogy and epistemology. SWHPN refuses to remain complicit in perpetuating such systems of racism. To that end, we commit ourselves to the following actions:

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Update on SWHPN's anti-racism work

Hello SWHPN Members! On behalf of the SWHPN Board and staff, we hope you are enjoying a relaxing and safe summer. At the 2022 Conference, we extended our commitment to enhanced communications and transparency with our members. We hope you have enjoyed the new monthly Membership newsletter which came out last week, as well as our first Advocacy and Policy newsletter.  It was developed in conjunction with several Board members, and is generously supported by Healthsperian, a Washington DC-based company that provides healthcare advocacy on behalf of non-profits across the country; they are providing this to SWHPN free of charge to help our members stay abreast of policy issues that may impact our field, and have been supporters of SWHPN conferences for a number of years.

Additionally, we are working to write more regular blog posts, to provide more opportunities to gather feedback from members, and to develop new member benefits, including leadership and professional development opportunities. We also want to make sure our members stay up-to-date on what is happening behind the scenes with the Board and staff as we take on our own development to transform the organization into an anti-racist, inclusive space. 

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SWHPN Statement on SCOTUS Dobbs v. Jackson Ruling

SWHPN Statement on SCOTUS Dobbs v. Jackson Ruling

The Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) is outraged and profoundly disappointed at the decision released on Friday, June 24 by the Supreme Court of the United States in the Dobbs vs Jackson ruling. This decision not only becomes the first Supreme Court decision to take away recognized individual liberty by ignoring stare decisis, it also places many people’s, and in particular, women’s autonomy lives, and well-being in jeopardy.  It conflicts with the Social Work Code of Ethics by interfering with social workers’ commitment to the dignity and worth of every person, and people’s rights to self-determination, especially over their bodies. Bodily integrity and autonomy are cornerstones for liberty within our society. We anticipate that those who have been historically marginalized and excluded within our society will suffer greatly, and disproportionately, from this decision. We will remain vigilant and encourage our members to work for unfettered access to high-quality health care for every person in our country. Social workers will stand firm in our commitment to social justice, access to quality healthcare, including reproductive health, and the right of every person to self-determination and liberty. 

A note from the 2022 SWHPN Executive Committee

Dear Members,

We are thrilled to welcome you to the 2022 SWHPN Annual Assembly in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s so nice to finally meet in person and we hope you enjoy your time connecting with colleagues you haven’t seen since 2019. 

It’s been an unprecedented two years with the pandemic, murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and too many other Black and Brown people, social unrest, and the war in the Ukraine. In reflecting on this year’s theme, “Looking forward & back: celebrating our history and the future of hospice and palliative care social work,” we’re struck by the word “celebrate.” While there is a lot that we are proud of in this field, and proud 
of SWHPN as an organization, it’s a difficult time to “celebrate” when we are aware of our roots in white supremacy and anti-Blackness. As an organization, SWHPN is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable community rooted in belonging and justice. An important part of this is to own our past and move through a period of disruption and discomfort. To develop new ways of working to ensure we do not perpetuate harm to historically marginalized and excluded communities, including our colleagues in hospice and palliative care. 

In Alicia Elliott’s memoir, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, Elliott, a Mohawk writer, reflects on her childhood growing up on a reservation in Ontario, Canada:

“Perhaps one day this neighborhood, this city, this country will finally hear its neglected past whispering. Look at me plainly. Look at me. Look at your patterns. Don’t make the same mistakes. Don’t hide who you were. Acknowledge it, then make something new, something beautiful, something that will make everyone proud.” (Elliott, Pg. 57)

SWHPN is in the process of reflecting on its patterns, its history – so we can acknowledge where we have colluded with oppressive structures, so we can stop making the same mistakes, and make something new.  We have committed the human and financial resources necessary to help us identify our patterns and plan for a more equitable future. As the history of systemic racism and oppression within the medical system begins to be acknowledged and addressed, we as social workers need to look at ourselves as individuals and at social work as a profession. As a profession that is rooted in “nice” whiteness, we need to question its role in proliferating power structures and imagine a new future. In 2022-2023 and beyond, my hope for SWHPN, to borrow from Elliott’s words, is that we not only “hear the neglected past whispers” but actively work to turn whispers into trumpets to address systemic racism. 

Acknowledge the neglected whispers of the past
Make something new
Something beautiful 
Something that will make everyone proud (A. Elliott)

We look forward to seeing what SWHPN will create together, in 2022 and for many more years. Jessica Strong, Executive Director, will share more about these exciting updates. 

SWHPN Executive Committee:
Anne Kelemen, LICSW, APHSW-C, Chair 
Danielle Jonas, LCSW, Vice Chair
Caitlin Scanlon, LCSW, Secretary/Treasurer 
Stacy Remke, LICSW, APHSW-C, Past Chair