Social Work in Action (June 2014)

An Ohio legislative bill that grants title protection and other professional advances for practitioners throughout the state has been passed, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich signing H.B. 232 in April.

NASW Ohio Chapter Executive Director Danielle Smith said the bill was voted out of the state House of Representatives in early November. As it headed to the Senate in January, the chapter called on members to take action before legislators recessed in mid-April.

Smith said members answered the call with thousands of emails, phone calls and letters to the Senate Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee and to their own state legislators.

NASW member Stacy Simera, LISW-S, also spoke at a legislative hearing on H.B. 232, providing personal testimony and emphasizing the importance of the legislation.

When social work licensure was introduced in Ohio in the 1980s, a measure that was meant to be temporary was put in the legislation. This measure exempted anyone working in government (public service) from the law’s requirement that a social worker be formally educated in and licensed to practice social work. H.B. 232 removed this exemption, and remedies inconsistencies between patient confidentiality protections of physicians and psychiatrists and social workers.

It allows social workers to incorporate private practices with other mental health professionals.

NASW Pennsylvania Chapter Executive Director Ron SimonNASW Pennsylvania Chapter Executive Director Ron Simon, center, speaks during the chapter’s Legislative Advocacy Day in April. More than 700 social work students and professionals participated.

More than 700 social work students and professionals visited nearly 200 members of the General Assembly as a part of the NASW Pennsylvania Chapter’s Legislative Advocacy Day in April. They advocated for H.B. 1640, which would create limited practice protection for social work professionals across the commonwealth, and S.B. 807, which would establish licensure for BSW-level social workers.

A rally held on the steps of the capitol rotunda in Harrisburg followed the legislative visits. State Sen. John Blake, D-Lackawanna, and state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, attended the rally. Each highlighted the important work social workers do to serve the community and spoke about how their respective bills would enhance the social work profession.

“Social workers from across the commonwealth came together to advocate for our proud profession,” said NASW-Pennsylvania Executive Director Ron Simon. “Change is needed to further protect the public and assist social workers as they help others in their moments of need. The legislation we are advocating for would create such a change.”

NASW CEO Angelo McClain spoke at the spring meeting of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work, which was held in April. McClain’s presentation, called “Addressing Essential Topics Relevant to Social Workers and the Social Work Profession,” highlighted the new and expanded opportunities for social work service provision; the work done by the NASW Social Work Policy Institute; and the opportunities to challenge social injustice.

McClain also discussed NASW membership products and services; the connection between social work education and social work practice; the Joining Forces initiative and the difference social workers make in helping veterans and their families; and the Affordable Care Act.

Opportunities for social workers, he said, are available in the areas of aging, suicide prevention and treatment, veteran assistance, and health care.

White House Deputy Director of Joining Forces Rory Brosius invited representatives from NASW to meet and discuss the association’s involvement with the Joining Forces initiative.

NASW CEO Angelo McClain, NASW Foundation Director Robert Arnold, and NASW Senior Governance Associate Kelsey Nepote met with Brosius, who is a social worker, in April at the White House.

They provided an update on the commitments NASW made to Joining Forces in July 2012 and spoke about ways to raise awareness about the unique issues that military caregivers in the social work profession experience.

First lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, started Joining Forces, which focuses on improving the employment, education and wellness of U.S. troops, veterans and military families. The initiative also works to raise awareness of these issues.

NASW has been a member of Joining Forces since 2011 and is committed to educating and training all social workers so they are prepared to meet the needs of veterans, military members and their families.