BOSTON (WWLP) – More than 750 social workers rallied on the State House steps on Tuesday, fighting for social and economic justice in their communities across Massachusetts.
The state’s National Association of Social Workers chapter lobbied at the State House. They focused on immigration enforcement, birth control access and criminal justice.
Activists said that many low-income residents in urban communities, like Springfield, don’t have their basic needs met. Northampston Social Worker Sara Schieffelin said, “People need to have a foundation of safety, of food, of shelter, of clothing to be able to do anything else.”
A former nurse of 20 years told 22News she decided to become a social worker after seeing so many of her patients in need in western Massachusetts. Monson Resident Carrie Payne said, “If they have to make a choice between putting food on the table or paying for birth control, they’re going to choose housing, they’re going to choose food before they’re going to choose birth control.”
Critics complain about people who take advantage of cash benefits from government assistance programs, but the activists say the funding is inadequate. Sathya Mandginy from the National Association for Social Workers said, “There are no women out there who have children for this cash benefit because it’s not a lot…about $100 a month.”
The social workers are supporting a bill that would lift the cap on welfare benefits for children born into families receiving government assistance.
Activists said they’ll continue to rally and make phone calls to lawmakers to bring awareness to social injustice in their communities.