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Summer Leadership & Legislative Institute
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Over the years, the Summer Leadership and Legislative Institute which is held in Washington, DC has provided many opportunities to hear and dialogue with school social work leadership from across the country. In addition to leadership development, opportunities are provided to hear the latest from leadership from some key national organizations who work in collaboration with SSWAA to support Specialized Instructional Support Personnel and the students, schools and families we serve.

The highlight for many culminates in our annual "Hill Breakfast" and visits to "the Hill" when SSWAA members have the opportunity to meet with members of Congress. This is a great opportunity to meet SSWAA board members, learn about legislative trends in Washington DC and to go up to Capitol Hill to visit with your US Senators and US Congressperson, bringing them the SSWAA legislative message. If you have ever wanted to learn more about how to advocate for School Social Workers, for increased mental health services for students, for additional funding to assist our students in addressing barriers to learning at the local, state and/or national levels;  this is your opportunity! Check out some photos of past Institute activities.

2015:   July 12 - 14, 2015 Washington, DC
"Advocacy in Action: Raising Awareness of School Mental Health"

See 2015 Photo Gallery

Thirty four (34) School Social Workers from Spain to California came to Washington, D.C. to sharpen their advocacy skills in advocating for School Social Workers, increased mental health awareness and services in schools and education funding to address barriers to learning.  Myrna Mandlawitz, SSWAA's Government Relations Director reviewed the legislative and policy making process as well as strategies to influence policy development and decision making at the district, state and Congressional levels. Monday the Institute continued its meeting at the National Education Association (See full agenda).  Libby Nealis, SSWAA's Director of Policy and Advocacy addressed "Education and Mental Health Policy in the 114th Congress"   Elaborating on issues and talking points on current proposed federal legislation, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which is currently being debated in the Senate,   See details (pending).   What great timing to be in D.C.!! 

"How to Fund School Mental Health Programs:  Creative Thinking" 

We were inspired to hear the praises for School Social Workers from Scott Cartland, Principal at Wheatley Education Center in the District of Columbia Public Schools. "We have to take care of kids first." "We have to address all those unaddressed social emotional needs first." "The School Social Worker does the kind of outreach they need. After engaging kids, engaging parents THEN we can move on academics." Read more (pending).  Dana Carr from Moringa Policy Consulting and former Director of Health, Mental Health, Environmental Health and PE with the U.S. Department of Education noted that there is a need to "systematically think about Social Emotional Learning" in a way that is "integrated, not in just one program like the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (ESSCP)"...but as a "fundamental and integrated part of the way schools do business."   Read more (pending). 

"The Whole Child, School Mental Health and ESEA Reauthorization"

Michael Yudin, Assistance Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Dept. of Education  stated:  "The work you do is so critically important. School Social Workers are the heart of what we do."  You directly help "give a child a meaningful opportunity to learn and a chance to aim high."  Don't miss reading all that he had to say.  Click here (pending).  Deb Delisle, Executive Director of ASCD and former Assistant Secretary of Elementary /Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education.  She noted that when she was an Assistant Superintendent how one year she lost three (3) students in one week due to a car accident, a student drowning and a suicide. "My greatest asset was the School Social Worker"...... "They [School Social Workers] are angels on earth. You may not have wings on your back but I can see them.” Read more (pending) 

Our meetings again culminated with "Breakfast on the Hill" with our special guest, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) who was presented with SSWAA's Children's Champion Award.  Senator Franken has been a long time champion of mental health supports for children.  Read more (pending).  Another powerful group of 34 school social workers from 21 states, armed with their sharpened legislative advocacy skills, took to Capitol Hill to meet with their Representatives and Senators.  Please plan to join our efforts at our next Summer Leadership & Legislative Institute so we can "Raise our Voices" even higher!

2013 Summer Institute
2012 Summer Institute
2011 Summer Institute
2010 Summer Institute
2009 Summer Institute

2013:   July 21 - 24, 2013  Washington, DC

"Raising our Voices for School Social Work:  A State and National Partnership"

See 2013 Photo Gallery!

On July 21 - 24,  school social work leadership met at the headquarters of the National Education Association in Washington, DC to hear leaders from the U.S. Department of Education, Committee for Education Funding, American School Counselor Association, National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Association of School Psychologists on a variety of topics including proposed educational legislation, the state of education funding, professional advocacy, the important role of collaboration as well as mental health services in schools.  

Of special interest was hearing the collaboration efforts of Specialized Instructional Support Personnel, Administrators and School Resource Officers in developing  "A Framework for Safe and Successful Schools" outlining our various roles in providing a comprehensive school-wide approach to improve school safety and increase access to mental health supports for children and youth. (If you have not yet reviewed this document, please do so.) 

On July 23, the American Federation of Teachers sponsored Breakfast on the Hill where SSWAA awarded Senator Patty Murray the Children's Champion Award.    After hearing from Michael Gamel-McCormick, Education Policy Director for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP;  a powerful group of school social workers from 17 states, took to Capitol Hill to meet with their Representatives and Senators. It was an extremely successful day of advocacy, as SSWAA had more meeting time with high level staff and Members of Congress than they have ever had in a single day, with just over 50 office visits in total. It was clear that Congressional staff and Members see school social workers as a critical asset in our nation’s schools. 

2012:   June 26 - 29, 2012   Washington, DC

SSWAA Hosts Another Successful Summer Leadership & Legislative Institute!

On June 26, 2012, school social workers descended upon Capitol Hill to represent SSWAA and advocate for school based mental health and social work services. Approximately 50 visits were made to Capitol Hill offices and Congressional staff. We let our presence be known! Follow-up with these offices to strengthen support for our issues continues, as does advocacy at the state and local level. Our participants were trained in how to take their sharpened leadership and advocacy skills back home to share with other SSWAA and state association members. A huge thanks to our SSWAA members who came all the way to DC to attended the Institute and thanks to the state associations who helped support their efforts. SSWAA asserts that this advocacy work can continue successfully at the state level to further support school social workers and strengthen your state’s and SSWAA’s position. SSWAA encourages other members to plan on attending the Summer Institute 2013 to share in this exceptional experience!! Stay tuned for more information on that in the coming months.

You can download a copy of Myrna's PowerPoint presentation "Influencing State Policy" that can be used by members for advocacy suggestions at the State and National Levels.  Click here for 2012 photos.

2011:   July 17 - 20, 2011  -- Washington, DC

The SSWAA Summer Leadership and Legislative Institute, "Building and Enhancing SSW Leadership," was attended by over 34 school social work leaders from 20 states and 15 State Associations and included the SSWAA Board of Directors and staff at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town. Over the 4 days in July, we enjoyed the opportunity to participate in a variety of workshops, panel presentations, group discussions and legislative advocacy on Capitol Hill with House and Senate members and their staff.

Click here for the full 2011 Institute Newsletter with photographs and personal testimonies.

2010:   July 18 -21, 2010 -- Washington, DC

The 2010 SSWAA Leadership & Legislative Institute took place in Washington, DC from the 18th through the 21st of July, 2010.  It was attended by 44 school social work leaders from 24 states.   It was an exciting time to focus on association leadership issues and national legislation coupled with visits to our Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill.     The meeting was held at the Hilton Alexandria, Old Town.  Breakfast on the Hill was sponsored by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and the  American Federation of Teachers.

2010 Summary 

Click here for full 2010 Institute Newsletter with Institute details and photographs.   


The 2009 SSWAA Leadership / Legislative Institute took place in Washington DC..  It was an exciting time to focus on association leadership issues and national legislation coupled with visits to our Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill.   The meeting was held at the Hilton Alexandria, Old Town.  One of the highlights of the Institute was Breakfast on the Hill with Representative Patrick Kennedy!   

2009 Summary        


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