House passes Hill-Evans resolution to honor PA social workers

YORK, March 27 – March 2024 is now recognized as National Social Worker Month in Pennsylvania, after the House voted 103-98 on Tuesday to adopt a resolution introduced by state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York.

The vote came about a week after members of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers visited the state Capitol on March 19 for their annual Advocacy & Education Day. Hill-Evans joined social workers after they marched from City Island to the Capitol building steps, where they held a rally calling for the legislature to pass House Bill 1841, which would authorize Pennsylvania to join the Social Work Licensure Compact. They also urged the Senate to pass House Bill 1500, which would raise the state minimum wage.

“Advocating for social workers and the support they provide to our communities is important to me not just as a lawmaker, but as a sister, aunt, mother, grandmother, neighbor, and woman of faith,” Hill-Evans said at the rally. “Every day, they positively touch the lives of people in need, and advocate for those who don’t have the ability to advocate for themselves, empowering these individuals to overcome issues they can’t surmount on their own.”

On Tuesday, lawmakers also voted (102-99) to reject an amendment proposed by Rep. Brad Roae, R-Crawford, that would have stripped the entirety of the bill’s original language and replaced it. In remarks on the House floor, Roae said he thought the resolution as drafted was "politically charged." (Full text of HR 344 may be viewed here.)

“Social workers themselves are the ones driving home the message that many of the situations where they’re called on for help are the result of conditions created and maintained by systemic racism,” Hill-Evans said. “How can you say you support them one minute, but turn around and call them liars the next?”

Hill-Evans noted the breadth of social workers’ reach is felt in many areas of life, including schools, hospitals, military, child welfare agencies, community centers, and all levels of government. She said as America’s economic inequality and health disparities increase, the population ages, and the middle class struggles to keep a roof over their heads, social workers are essential to the country’s stability.

Joining the compact would allow social workers with an active license in Pennsylvania to apply for a multi-state license, giving them the ability to serve clients across state lines and expand their use of telehealth options, according to Hill-Evans. By eliminating those barriers, the compact would increase access to social work services and allow for continuity of care when clients travel or relocate.

“Any public servant who listens to the people of this commonwealth will recognize the crucial role social workers have in the lives of their constituents. They absolutely deserve this recognition,” Hill-Evans said. “Communities can’t thrive if their citizens can’t.”