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Ron Avi Astor to Speak at Virtual Congressional Briefing on March 30

By Joanie Harmon
Professor of Social Welfare Ron Avi Astor

UCLA professor of social welfare’s research instrumental in crafting bill to support school social workers.

Ron Avi Astor, professor of social welfare at the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies will take part in a virtual congressional briefing on March 30. Astor, who is also the Crump Chair in Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, will speak in support of a bill that will address the growing need for school-based mental health services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Astor helped to craft the bill in collaboration with the National Association of Social Workers, the School Social Work Association of America, and staffers in the offices of Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Gwen Moore.

Professor Astor says that the bill is critical in providing school social workers to large parts of the nation that have no such services in place.

“Connecting the school and community, supporting families and educators with needed resources, mental health services, and creating welcoming school environments are the cornerstone of what our country needs now—this is what school social workers do,” notes Professor Astor. “Creating the first technical assistance center with a social work perspective --honoring the community, self-empowerment, local voice, culturally responsive intervention, and specific needs of local schools is very needed. This technical assistance provided will be the first of its kind and be transformational in helping our nation's schools and communities.” 

The bill, which was introduced on the floor of Congress on March 16, will include funding for a national evaluation and technical assistance center and funds for more school social workers in states and regions that without school social workers. Astor and Laura Abrams, UCLA professor and chair of social welfare at UCLA Luskin, endorsed the bill.   

Astor also recently presented to Congress the findings from a study supported by the American Psychological Association on the threats of harassment and physical violence from students and families that is being experienced by teachers and school staff nationwide. A significant result of the APA study is the discovery that almost 50% of teachers plan to transfer schools or leave the profession completely. 

Visit this link to attend the congressional briefing on March 30, 8 a.m., PST.