Agency agrees to give hiring preference

Having a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work will now definitely pay off in Connecticut, thanks to efforts by the NASW Connecticut Chapter.

The chapter convinced the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services to give hiring preference to social work degree job applicants for all state social work jobs, which took effect in March.

DAS Deputy Commissioner Martin W. Anderson wrote a letter that said his department had been in talks with the NASW Connecticut Chapter, state legislators and other parties regarding the requirement for new social workers in the state to possess a BSW or MSW degree.

“The Department of Administrative Services supports preferential hiring for social workers who possess the BSW and MSW degrees due to the constellation of competencies they possess at the time their degrees are conferred,” Anderson wrote.

NASW-Connecticut Executive Director Stephen Karp said this is what the chapter has been striving for, and DAS’ decision has institutionalized this preference for all state social work jobs.

“This means improved services; it means a qualified social worker will be in a role they are trained to do,” Karp said. “The perception of social workers will be improved when you have fully qualified individuals doing the job.”

Karp said a meeting with Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman was instrumental in the chapter’s success, as Wyman communicated to DAS the importance of placing qualified social workers.

“Social workers play a critical role in the lives of their clients — and state social workers are often the most visible and important face of government to the families and individuals with whom they work,” Wyman said. “It comes as no surprise that MSW and BSW candidates have the most closely aligned training and experience to be strong advocates and navigators for clients. So it makes sense to give these applicants preference when searching for external candidates to fill social work positions.”

The chapter’s efforts to convince DAS are part of a 20-year ongoing chapter campaign to get qualified social workers into social work jobs. Social work services are only as important as the people on the ground delivering them, Karp said.

“Now that we’ve advocated for hiring preference, we ensure the state has a qualified diverse pool for social workers,” he said. “The chapter is committed to making sure social workers know of openings, and making sure social workers apply for them.”

Through previous campaign efforts in 2012, the chapter also convinced the Connecticut Department of Children and Families and the Connecticut Department of Social Services to hire candidates with social work degrees for social work roles, as opposed to hiring applicants with degrees in other fields of study.

“NASW needs to do everything it can to be relevant to membership,” said Chapter President Raymie Wayne. “The state of Connecticut is a wonderful employer and the chapter is doing all it can to secure positions for its members. We want to make sure our social workers have an edge in a very competitive workplace environment, and the social work degree remains valuable.”

Hiring preferences for social workers in other states:

  • NASW-Florida — The chapter has worked on state legislation that would require the Florida Department of Children and Families to hire BSWs and MSWs, and provide tuition exemption and loan forgiveness for social work education. The legislation will also establish a Child Welfare Institute at one of the state’s schools of social work. According to Chapter Executive Director Jim Akin, the legislation is expected to pass, and final details will be available this month.
  • NASW-Louisiana — The state gives hiring preference to BSWs and MSWs in the child welfare area. According to Chapter Executive Director Carmen Weisner, this was part of the state’s efforts to become accredited by the Council on Accreditation.
  • NASW-Massachusetts — The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families gives hiring preference to BSWs and MSWs. NASW CEO Angelo McClain enacted this policy during his time as commissioner.
  • NASW-North Carolina — The chapter has recently started to work with the Division of Child Welfare on a comprehensive bill for 2015. The bill will professionalize child welfare positions, and promote the hiring of BSWs and MSWs. A legislative committee has been established in the state, with a focus on foster care. Due to the nature of the committee, the chapter will focus on hiring preference in the area of child welfare first, which currently hires the most non-degreed social workers.
  • NASW-Rhode Island — Executive Director Rick Harris was involved in and brokered the final draft of legislation that has codified into law that only BSW or MSW professionals can serve as qualified social workers in the state.
  • NASW-Texas — The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services offers bonus pay to candidates with a BSW and MSW for the position of Child Protective Services worker.