For years NASW has advocated for funding for the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP), the only federal program that trains the health care workforce to serve older adults and family caregivers. These efforts-not only by NASW’s Legislative Advocacy Network, but also by the Eldercare Workforce Alliance and the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, to which NASW belongs-helped to protect GWEP funding from proposed cuts in fiscal year 2018 and to maintain appropriations at $40.7 million for fiscal year 2019.
GWEP funding for fiscal year 2020 is uncertain, however, and the program is underfunded. The Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act (S. 299) addresses this problem. Introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), this bipartisan legislation supports two critical objectives:
- The bill establishes formal funding for GWEP at the $45 million level. Community-based organizations (many of which provide social work services) and schools of social work are among the entities eligible to participate in GWEP partnerships. Moreover, social workers are among the professionals eligible for interdisciplinary training through GWEP.
- The bill reestablishes the Geriatric Academic Career Awards (GACA), a previously funded program for developing academic clinical educators specializing in aging, at the $6 million level. Professionals eligible for GACA include clinical social workers.
Urge your senators to enhance the health of the nation’s older adults by supporting the Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act (S. 299). If you have been involved with or received training at a GWEP site, or if you have participated in GACA, please add a sentence to the e-mail highlighting the value of these programs for older adults and your community.