Thursday, April 28, 2011

Update of bills

Now that deadlines are finished in both the House and Senate, all bills have been filed. I wanted to update you on a few. I recognize that there are many filed that interest different people but in the effort to respec your time, I will keep the list as small as possible. If you ever have questions about any of these, do not hesitate to contact me!

H 659, Capital Procedure / Severe Mental Disability

This bill has always been supported by NASW-NC. The bill prohibits defendants to have a severe mental disability at the time they committed a crime from being sentenced to death. Defendants can attempt to prove their severe mental disability either before trial or during the sentencing phase. However, mental disability which manifested itself primarily by repeated criminal conduct or was caused by alcohol or other drugs is not enough by itself to prevent the death penalty.

S 547, NC Human Trafficking Commission
S 547 creates the eighteen-member NC Human Trafficking Commission within the Department of Administration. The Commission is tasked with researching trafficking in NC and using that research to inform law enforcement, social services, and the general public. Also, the Commission will suggest new policies, procedures, or legislation. The Commission will assist in regional responses and identify gaps in law enforcement or social services and help identify responses to those gaps. NASW-NC is very supportive of this bill as Human Trafficking is a rapidly growing issue in NC and social workers have and will begin to face clients with trauma from such exposure.
H 734, Require Photo ID / Food Stamps Program
Requires a photo ID to electronic benefits transaction (EBT) cards used by SNAP food stamps) recipients. The bill provides for one additional individual to use the card on behalf of a primary recipient.

H 777, Defense of Marriage
Proposes a constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot in 2012 with the text, “Marriage is a union of one man and one woman at one time. No other relationship shall be recognized as a valid marriage by the State.”

S 597/H 863: Behavioral Health Services for Military Funds.
NASW-NC is VERY supportive of this bill. This bill ensures that the behavioral health needs of members of the military, veterans, and their families are met. NC is unique to the number of military bases in the state and the problem of meeting the needs military families continues to grow. Social workers are on the forefront of these issues and are supported in this bill.

SB 607: Conform Medical Records Laws
As we are moving into more electronic health records, this bill ensures that those with mental illness are able to opt out of how their records are shared. NASW-NC has worked within the Coalition for Persons Disabled by Mental Illness to work on the language of this bill with Senator Stein.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Budget Action Alert


After nine hours of over 100 amendments to House Bill 200: Appropriations Act of 2011; the House will take this bill to the floor on Tuesday, May 3rd. Therefore, we have a small amount of time to address our issues. Below are some highlights that affect social work. PLEASE contact your legislatures and other members of the House to let them know how you will be impacted both professionally and personally.

Instructional Support staff cut by 4%: this means cuts to school social work positions.

Health and Wellness Trust Fund Eliminated: eliminate the Health and Wellness Trust Fund (HWTF) along with the Tobacco Trust Fund. The HWTF funds a wide variety of programs to prevent tobacco usage, obesity, aging services and infant mortality. The money from the HWTF is now redirected to debt service, agricultural projects, and $50 million for the University Cancer Research Fund.

Cuts to the Department of Juvenile Justice/Department of Corrections: Programs that help ex-offenders successfully integrate back into society were cut entirely.

Non-profit salaries capped: H200 caps salaries for all non-profits receiving state funds using a sliding scale based on the amount of state funding. For instance, if an organization receives more than $10 million, the salary cap is $100k; if it receives less than $1 million, the cap is $60k.

Tuition waivers eliminated: H200 would eliminate a variety of tuition waivers for NC community colleges, including waivers for:
-patients in state alcohol and drug rehab facilities
-any juveniles committed to DJJDP
-prison inmates
-students in HHS development programs

Early Childhood programs restructured
Smart Start
-No more than 8% of totals costs for all partnerships for admin costs
-Caps salaries at $80k for statewide partnership and $60K for local partnerships
-13% total match requirement (10% cash; 3% in-kind)
-No state funds on marketing campaigns
More at Four – H200 fundamentally changes More at Four from a pre-k program for low-income families to a child care subsidy program
-More at Four no longer under the Department of Public Instruction
-20% carve out for non-low income kids – this carve out means that 20% of the families served by More at Four funds will NOT be from low-income families
-H200 would also implement a co-pay on a rate scale the same as child care subsidies

Planned Parenthood funding cut: eliminate state funding and state-administered federal funds for Planned Parenthood. Cuts to this program are political in nature because it means cuts to breast and cervical cancer screening, family planning, sexually transmitted disease treatment, etc. Some legislators believe that these services can be provided by the Health Departments when in fact, the health departments are already overburdened and have significant wait times.

To access the Money Report, click here.
To access the Special Provisions, click here.

It is DIRE that you contact your legislators and let them know how devastating these cuts are. Take a look at the Money Report and see how you will be affect. The Money Report is the full report for Health and Human Services, Education, Adult Services, Child Services, Mental Health, etc.

If you need help contemplating what it all means and how to frame your message specific to you, please contact Kay Paksoy at the chapter office! Remember, this will be voted on on Tuesday!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What's Important to NC Voters? by NC Policy Watch

NC Policy Watch is happy to announce the release of the April 2011 edition of its Carolina Issues Poll. Each month, the staff of NC Policy Watch develops a series of questions on timely issues impacting state policy debates that are then vetted and posed to registered voters by the nationally recognized, Raleigh-based polling firm Public Policy Polling.

This month’s poll quizzed nearly 800 voters on April 19 and 20 regarding a wide variety of current issues, including:

* The stalemate between the Governor and the General Assembly over the extension of unemployment benefits,
* Proposed budget cuts under consideration in the legislature,
* The state’s acceptance of federal high speed rail dollars,
* Whether community colleges should be required to help student access federal student loans,
* A proposal to raise interest rates on small consumer loans, and
* The issue of reintegrating ex-criminal offender into society.

Here are some of the results:

In general, voters are very supportive of extending unemployment insurance benefits to jobless North Carolina workers who have been laid off but continue to seek work and oppose efforts of Republican leaders to tie the extension to future state budget cuts.

Q1 Do you support or oppose extending unemployment benefits for another 20 weeks to North Carolinians who have been laid off, provided they continue seeking work?

Support ………………………………………………….. 65%

Oppose ………………………………………………….. 32%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 3%

Q2 Last week, leaders in the General Assembly advanced a bill to extend unemployment benefits, but attached a condition that would also require the Governor to agree to cut the overall state budget by 13% in 2012. Do you think lawmakers should have had an opportunity to vote on the unemployment extension by itself?

Yes………………………………………………………… 66%

No …………………………………………………………. 22%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 12%

Q3 Over the weekend, the Governor vetoed the bill that combined the unemployment extension with the 2012 budget cuts and asked lawmakers to send her a bill that deals only with the unemployment issue. Do you agree with the Governor’s decision to keep the matters separate?

Yes………………………………………………………… 65%

No …………………………………………………………. 25%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 10%

Voters also remain very skeptical of proposed budget cuts under consideration at the General Assembly and, when given the choice, expressed a preference for leaving taxes at current rates rather than reducing core services.

Q4 The current budget proposal from legislative leaders would cut taxes from their current levels and includes unprecedented cuts to a number of public services. I’m going to read you a list of specific cuts that have been proposed and ask you to compare them to the option of leaving taxes at current levels: Given the choices of cutting taxes and eliminating 8,200 teachers’ assistants positions in grades two and three or leaving taxes at current levels and keeping the teachers’ assistants, which would you prefer?

Prefer cutting taxes and eliminating 8,200 teachers’ assistants positions in grades 2 and 3 …………………………………………………………….29%

Prefer leaving taxes at current levels and keeping the teachers’ assistants…………………66%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 4%

Q5 Given the choices of cutting taxes and eliminating 3,200 jobs in the university system or leaving taxes at current levels and keeping the jobs in the university system, which would you prefer?

Prefer cutting taxes and eliminating 3,200 jobs in the university system ………………………38%

Prefer leaving taxes at current levels and keeping the jobs in the university system……..57%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 5%

Q6 Given the choices of cutting taxes and cutting the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources by 22% or leaving taxes at current levels and keeping the Department intact, which would you prefer?

Prefer cutting taxes and cutting the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources by 22%……………………………………46%

Prefer leaving taxes at current levels and keeping the department intact…………………….48%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 6%

On the matter of high-speed rail, a plurality of voters prefers to accept federal dollars rather than turn them down.

Q7 Some state legislators want North Carolina to turn down more than $400 million in federal funds to build high-speed rail service in the state: do you agree with them that North Carolina should reject the money, or do you think that North Carolina should accept the money from the federal government?

NC should reject $400 million in federal funds for high speed rail service ……………………….43%

NC should accept the money…………………….. 47%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 9%

On another matter involving federal dollars, voters strongly support the position taken in Governor Perdue’s veto of a bill that would repeal a law that requires all community colleges in the state to help their students access low-cost federal loans.

Q8 Do you think all community college students should have access to low cost federal student loans or should individual community colleges be allowed to refuse to offer such loans?

All community college students should have access to low cost federal student loans…….61%

Individual community colleges should be allowed to refuse to offer federal loans ………..30%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 9%

Perhaps the strongest and clearest result came on the question of consumer lending legislation, in which a vast majority of voters opposed the idea of raising interest rates.

Q9 North Carolina law currently limits the annual interest rate on consumer loans offered by loan companies to around 54%. The companies say they need higher rates to loan to people with poor credit. Do you think lawmakers should approve a bill requested by the companies to allow them to charge an annual interest rate of around 90%?

Lawmakers should raise permissible rates…………7%

Rates should not be raised…………………………….. 84%

Not sure ………………………………………………………. 9%

Finally, on another matter of great interest in the current policy environment in which lawmakers are looking for ways to reduce recidivism in the criminal justice system, voters expressed support for government efforts to eliminate roadblocks to employment for ex-criminal offenders seeking a fresh start in life.

Q10 Do you think that state and local governments should remove roadblocks to employment for ex-criminal offenders who have completed their sentence and are seeking a fresh start in life?

Lawmakers should remove roadblocks……….. 46%

The y should not remove roadblocks …………… 32%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 21%

To read the entire poll, as well as the crosstabs, see the NC Policy website by clicking on the title of this post.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chapter Office is Closed for Repair

A message from NASW-NC:

We are sure many of you have seen the devastation to areas of NC and downtown Raleigh. Our office fared well through the storm, but we have significant damage. Internet and Phone service for the downtown area is still out, and many buildings are demolished. The office lost over 6000 worth of IT equipment and suffered some property damage as well. Please bear with us as we work on moving forward! Our goal is to be back in our building by Wednesday April 27th. Until then, staff have limited access to email from their homes. Thank you for understanding!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Medical News: Suicides Rise When Economy Falls - in Psychiatry, General Psychiatry from MedPage Today

Medical News: Suicides Rise When Economy Falls - in Psychiatry, General Psychiatry from MedPage Today

The Coalition Speaks out on Budget concerns

NASW-NC is a long time member of The Coalition

While The Coalition recognizes the significance of North Carolina's difficult budget issues and the economic condition of our state, the group believes that services and supports provided all across North Carolina to persons with developmental disabilities, addictive diseases and mental illness are critical to the well being of North Carolina's citizens, and that the jobs needed to provide these services are part of the fabric of local communities.

The Coalition's top priority is to maintain services to people with mental illness, addictive diseases, and developmental disabilities. The House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee budget released last week raises concerns for the group that services critical to maintaining people in their communities will be lost.

Of particular concern is the proposed $20M cut to Community Funding which is a direct cut to actual services and supports.

Coalition Chair Tad Clodfelter said, "The Coalition recently surveyed providers who serve people with addictive diseases, mental illness and developmental disabilities to get an idea of the numbers in North Carolina. As of today 115 provider agencies reported serving 314,160 clients in 2010 and that represents 21,946 jobs. The proposed cuts will likely mean a loss of services and jobs to some of these people."

The Coalition urges the members of the General Assembly to avoid cuts to services and to make restoring cuts to services its top priority.

The Coalition will hold its annual rally at the legislature on May 10 when hundreds of people are expected to come from around the state to meet with lawmakers and bring the message of the need for services and supports.

For more information on The Coalition and issues affecting those who manage disabilities, substance abuse isues or mental health challenges, visit

For more information, please visit:

Contact Information:
Jane Phillips
Communications Director
Easter Seals UCP North Carolina & Virginia
5171 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27612-3266
919-865-8724 (direct line)
919-622-6589 (cell)
919-865-8725 (fax)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mental Health Professionals Needed

Mental Health Professionals Being Recruited
For American Red Cross Disaster Relief Operations

Providing Disaster Mental Health (DMH) Support
The American Red Cross is in great need of licensed mental health professionals to provide support to the communities affected by the recent tornado outbreak (see eligibility criteria below)*.

Volunteering in your local community
To find the Red Cross chapter closest to you, please go to the Chapter Locater website at Local volunteers may be called upon to provide mental health support to volunteers going on national disaster assignments or to Red Cross chapter workers and volunteers who may be experiencing increased stress due to the pressures of coordinating the response to national disaster relief operations while still responding to the ongoing needs of their local community. Please be aware that mental health volunteers may be expected to complete Red Cross-specific training in psychological first aid and disaster mental health to prepare them for their volunteer roles and to ensure the safety and welfare of Red Cross clients and volunteers as well as those from partnering agencies.

Volunteering outside your local community
If you are interested and available for a national deployment for 10 days to 3 weeks, please contact your local Red Cross chapter. To find the Red Cross chapter closest to you, please go to the Chapter Locater website at Please be aware that prior to a national deployment, mental health volunteers must be registered as Red Cross volunteers and will be required to complete Red Cross-specific mental health training in psychological first aid and disaster mental health to prepare them for their volunteer roles and to ensure the safety and welfare of Red Cross clients and volunteers as well as those from partnering agencies. Be prepared for there to be a waiting period before Red Cross training is available and before you can deploy out of state. Any help you can provide to your local community and Red Cross chapter during this waiting period will be of great help. (In special circumstances, you may be notified of alternative training arrangements).

If you have additional questions or need more information, please contact your local Red Cross chapter directly.

*DMH Eligibility Criteria (must be licensed in the state in which you live)
•Independently-licensed, master’s level (or higher) mental health professionals
•State-licensed or state-certified school counselors and school psychologists
•RNs with a certification for psychiatric and mental health nursing to include RN-BC, PMHNP-BC or PMHCNS-BC.

Volunteer mental health professionals should be prepared to:

Be patient and flexible. Preparing disaster relief workers to respond in the aftermath of disaster can be extremely challenging. Mental health professionals should be prepared to register as volunteers with their local chapter. This might entail completing the paperwork necessary to establish a volunteer relationship with the Red Cross and provide documentation that verifies their professional credentials and training. The Red Cross places high value in getting the right people, to the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time.
Complete specific Red Cross training. The Red Cross has a specific role in disaster response and disaster mental health volunteers are critical to carrying out that role. Prior to utilizing mental health professionals in the Red Cross chapter or on a disaster relief operation outside their local community, volunteers must receive adequate training and information to prepare them to carry out their duties and responsibilities. New volunteers may be required to take specific Red Cross training courses in Introduction to Disaster, Psychological First Aid, and Foundations in Disaster Mental Health in addition to others.
Provide non-traditional mental health services. In the aftermath of disaster, psychological first aid is the intervention of choice. Intensive psychotherapy is often contraindicated. Instead, early intervention is primarily focused on assisting disaster survivors and response workers in meeting their most basic needs. This includes helping people feel safe and secure, obtain food and water, address their physical health needs (first aid and access to their medications) and connect to their family, friends, and other social support networks. Providing emotional comfort and support and helping individuals focus on their disaster-related needs is the most important mental health intervention you can provide at this time.
Support local Red Cross chapter activities. Mental health volunteers can assist their local chapter with preparing Red Cross disaster relief works for out of state assignments, supporting the families of disaster relief workers out on assignment, providing supportive interventions to those returning from disaster relief operations, and conducting media interviews on the common reactions individuals experience in the aftermath of disaster. Mental health workers may also be called upon to assist with other chapter support duties such as answering phones, preparing meals, filing, etc. While not typically considered traditional mental health services, helping out with these activities can go a long way to preserving the mental health of other Red Cross workers and staff.

If you are interested in volunteering at your local chapter or for a disaster relief operation outside your community, please contact the Red Cross closest to you. To find your local Red Cross chapter go to the Chapter Locater website at

Housing and the mentally ill

This week, WUNC (91.5) examines a persistent problem for mentally ill people in North Carolina – housing. Mental health reformers have repeated their intention to move people out of large institutions toward treatment options closer to home. But even as people have left hospitals, local resources have not kept pace. That means in North Carolina, many people with mental health disabilities live in adult care homes designed for frail elderly people. Now the U S Justice Department is investigating this situation. In the first installment of our series, North Carolina Voices, Mental Health Disorder, Rose Hoban reports that it could mean big changes for North Carolina.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Governor Vetos 2 more bills!

Yesterday, the Governor veto 2 more bills- SB 265: State Health Plan/Appropriations and Transfer and HB 7: Comm. College/Opt Out of Fed'l Loan Program.

HB 7 would have limited students' options in attending community college by eliminating a requirement for schools to make federal loans available to their students.

SB 265 would have changed the state health plan for teachers and state employees and allowed the transfer of the state health plan for teacher and state employees to the office of the state treasurer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Education House Proposal Budget "high"lights

UNC schools- 15.5% reduction
Public Schools- 8.8% reduction
Community Colleges- 10% reduction

Dropout Prevention Grants- $11,529,114 FY 11-12; $11,575,598 FY 12-13
Non-instructional support personnel- $396,649,804 FY 11-12; $400,365,281 FY 12-13
Instructional support- $458,685,560 FY 11-12; $462,989,580 FY 12-13

DHHS House Proposed Budget "high"lights

Reduce Nonprofit funding 2% reduction

Division of Aging:
Reduce Home and Community Care Block Grant- 12%

Division of Child Development:
Smart Start- 20% reduction
More at Four transfer from DPI: $65,122,426

Division of Public Health:
Reduce Local Health Department Funds to fiscal year 2006- Governor's Recommendation
Reduce Funds for Local Health Department Accreditation- 50%

Division of Social Services:
Eliminate Child and Family Team Pilot: continuation budget- $420,804
Eliminate State Funds for County DSS
Prioritize Adult Day Care Funding
Eliminate State Abortion Fund
Reduce Child Welfare Education Collaborative funds- will receive $239,453 per year

Division of Medical Assistance:
Targeted Rate Adjustments- $6,167,186
Modify Optional and Mandatory Services:
Optical- $2,356,027
Durable Medical Equipment- $2,689,077
Specialized Therapies- $1,178,014
Home Health- $1,465,973
Adjust provider rates- $50,378,633

Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse:
Reduce Child and Family Support Team- 100%
LME Administration- 17% in year two
Eliminate Community Funding spent for Medicaid recipients except for residential supports- 20,000,000 for FY 11-12; 0 for FY 12-13

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation:
Eliminate Recreational Therapists Services
Reduce Independent Living Program by 13%

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Coalition Advocacy Day

The Coalition welcomes you to our ADVOCACY DAY & POPCORN RALLY on TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011!


Address: 16 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

Registration will open at 8 am on the back portico of the Legislative Building. Participants can get information on the day’s legislative committee meetings, the current budget proposal and begin visits with legislators.

* Advocacy Trainings will take place in the Legislative Building Auditorium (third floor). Beginning at 9 am short trainings will be held on ways to effectively communicate your message to Legislators. Volunteers will be in the auditorium with tips & techniques for making the most of your legislative visit.
* Popcorn will be available on the portico beginning at 11 AM!
(Please note that lunch will NOT be provided.)
* RALLY: 12 pm on Bicentennial Mall on Jones Street, across from the Legislative Building
* PARKING: Passengers in vehicles of any kind must be dropped off at the LEGISLATIVE BUILDING and park in other locations. Directions & parking information can be found on the General Assembly’s website at

The Coalition encourages you to participate in this event as we advocate for funding for mental health, developmental disability, and addictive disease services!

For more information e-mail Elizabeth Cloud at
It's NationalVolunteerWeek! Volunteer now with @Catchafire, @Idealist, @VolunteerMatch, @ServeDotGov & more:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Message from the NC Housing Coalition: Support HB 574 and SB 462

Right now, for the first time in 22 years, we have the opportunity to secure a dedicated source of revenue for the NC Housing Trust Fund! This sustainable funding source, that will grow as the economy rebounds, means more safe, quality, affordable housing for the most vulnerable folks in our communities: those with disabilities, seniors living on fixed incomes, homeless families, victims of domestic violence, and others.

Call or email your legislators today and ask them to support HB 574 and SB 462!

The Issue:
HB 574 and SB 462 modify the distribution of the revenue from a real estate tax to include the NC Housing Trust Fund. It only makes sense that a real estate tax help make housing more affordable for those who are most in need. Over the last decade, some of this tax revenue has helped make great strides in conserving land and water. Now is the time make sure our most vulnerable citizens receive the same consideration and funding.

For more information on the bills and a list of talking points, click here.