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  • NASW-IL Staff

From the Pen of the Executive Director: May 2020

Updated: May 27, 2020

Joel L. Rubin, MSW, ACSW, CAE

NASW-Illinois Chapter Executive Director

Flatten the curve, social distancing, telehealth, Zoom, pivot, essential workers, work from home—these are just some of the new words that have entered into our lexicon. And in many ways, these terms reflect what the NASW-Illinois Chapter and the social work community has been doing since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NASW-Illinois Chapter office has been working remotely and has successfully and rapidly pivoted to continue providing services to the membership. That has included regular posts to the chapter news page and social media, as well as utilizing the NASW Illinois MyNASW Community which has provided a font of information and guidance on many subjects, most specifically on all things regarding telehealth. Our profession has had to catch up rather quickly on providing service via this platform. I am happy to say that the NASW-Illinois Chapter, through significant membership, has helped provide telehealth guidance and training. It is still an ever-changing area of practice and will continue to be post-pandemic. Many of you have also joined in on some of the district virtual gatherings via Zoom. More are currently being planning.

And something we have always known: social workers are essential workers. Our chapter board leadership is a microcrosm of that. Four of our 14-person board work in hospital settings, both urban and rural. Others work in private practice, providing crucial services in times of stress and tension for individuals and families. If you haven’t already listened to it, check out the NASW Social Work Talks podcast featuring the chapter’s Chicago District Chair and board member Rosanelly Garcia. Rosanelly is a trauma social worker who works in the emergency room at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago. This is just one of many examples of the amazing and courageous work being carried out by social workers throughout the state and the country during these challenging times.

So what’s next? And what can we continue to do to make sure certain areas around social justice are sidelined as well to the COVID-19 outbreak?

One of those major issues, which has significant implications for our state, is the completion of the 2020 US Census. The census is more than a simple population count. Public resources and funding on the local, state, and federal levels will be determined based on the 2020 Census for the next 10 years. It is critically important that every man, woman, and child be counted, particularly in low-income households and communities of color.

An accurate count of Illinois' population is essential to ensure that the state receives the funding it needs to properly care for its residents and provide critical services and programs. In 2015, Illinois received $19,738,866,367, or approximately $1,535 per capita, in federal assistance for sixteen programs. The failure to count every Illinois resident would have devastating effects on Illinois' ability to meet the needs of its residents. Even a one-percent undercount would result in the state losing $19,557,435 per year for a decade, resulting in a total loss of $195,574,350. (Source:

Households around the state received an invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12 and March 20, 2020. These official US Census Bureau mailings include detailed information and a census ID for completing the census online. In other words, for the first time, you can complete the census online, by phone, or by mail at

As we enter another 30 days of sheltering in place, on behalf of the NASW-Illinois Chapter, I want to thank Governor J.B. Pritzker and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike for their leadership during the COVID-19 crisis.

Stay safe, healthy and at home!

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