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How the Congressional Research Institute for Social Policy (CRISP) Supports Social Workers

The organization teaches MSW candidates how to become advocates for social change legislation.

The Congressional Research Institute for Social Policy (CRISP) was founded in 2012 to complement the work of the Congressional Social Work Caucus1 and to involve U.S. social workers in the legislative process.

How does CRISP support the nation’s 713,2002 professionals working in social work careers? “CRISP launched with a commitment to expanding social workers’ engagement with Congress and the federal government,” the organization explains. “CRISP sees itself as a bridge between social workers and the federal government ensuring our research is known to federal policy makers. CRISP also works to expand opportunities for students to find field placements in federal government offices both on the Hill and in district offices near their schools. CRISP employs strategies to raise social workers’ awareness about the federal legislative process through seminars, conferences, and webinars.”1


Dr. Renata Hedrington-Jones, a faculty member in the Master of Social Work (MSW) online degree program at Walden University who has been involved with CRISP for many years, says, “They sponsor and guide social workers. We are working for social workers as advocates. If we don’t advocate together, who will?”

CRISP officially launched in 2013 with a congressional briefing, “Social Work With Men and Boys of Color.” Symposia on children’s mental health and poverty and child neglect followed. Over the years, CRISP has focused attention on legislation and topics like the Affordable Care Act, military social work, and guns and school safety, to name just a few.

The organization holds two cornerstone outreach and advocacy events for social workers, students earning social work degrees, faculty, and other key stakeholders: Social Work Day on the Hill and Student Advocacy Day.

Social Work Day on the Hill

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit held its first Social Work Day on the Hill on March 17, 2015. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021’s event was virtual, with programs livestreamed on YouTube and LinkedIn.

The day began with the forum Social Work and the Future of Democracy. Panelists included Dr. Charles E. Lewis Jr., CRISP’s founding director; the Hon. Edolphus “Ed” Towns, a former Congressman and social worker representing Brooklyn; moderator Justin Hodge, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work; the Hon. Chad Lassiter, executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission; and Dr. Mimi Abramovitz, the Bertha Capen Reynolds professor of social work at the Silverman School of Social Work at Hunter College.

Events included the panel discussion Young Social Workers Speak Out on the Future of Democracy, featuring students earning social work degrees and recent graduates. CRISP also presented its signature awards that honor social workers for their contributions to policy and politics. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) was named Congressional Social Worker of the Year.

Student Advocacy Day

In March, during Social Work Month, CRISP supports social workers by bringing students earning degrees in social work, faculty, and social workers together on Capitol Hill for a full day of education, inspiration, and lobbying. Highlights of 2021’s virtual session included an overview of legislation on bills pertaining to voting rights, firearm licensing and registration, and reparations for African Americans. Afterward, participants met in virtual sessions with Congressional representatives and staff to advocate for these and other issues.

Dr. Hedrington-Jones says she encourages her MSW candidates to engage in these days of learning and lobbying. Student Advocacy Day helps illuminate a social work career path some MSW students may not have considered, she says. Part of her own advocacy is finding internship and career opportunities for her students.

“Our students need to know how they can be empowered to have a voice in that arena,” she says. “Everybody won’t be able to work with a client, but everybody can be an advocate with the proper training. So, our students can learn to do that. And I am always so happy when I see those lightbulbs come on, and I see those students who say, ‘Oh, this is what I want to do.’ And they do well.”

Find Your Social Work Career Passion

Earning a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree online from an accredited university like Walden can give you the tools and training you need to prepare for and expand your social work practice. Because Walden’s online social work degree program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CWSE)—a requirement for licensure in most states—your curriculum and two MSW Skills Labs will help ready you for your licensing exam.

Walden gives you the choice of five focus areas that help you align your online MSW degree studies with today’s in-demand social work jobs. Choose from Addictions, Child and Family, Healthcare, Military, and Trauma. You can take your studies a step further by adding a third course from a single focus area to your master’s in social work degree program to earn an optional embedded certificate.

When you earn a social work degree at Walden, you’ll have the flexibility to log in to your coursework on your own schedule. And you can also choose one of three online degree completion options to further mesh your MSW degree program with your lifestyle and goals.

There are many types of social workers and when you earn an MSW degree online, you can prepare for the career you envision and the positive impact you aspire to make.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program with five focus areas. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,