NASW-Va. helps attain legislation

Law clarifies state’s requirements for social work licensure.

The NASW Virginia Chapter worked with state Sen. Jeff McWaters, R-Virginia Beach, on a recently passed bill in the Virginia Senate regarding licensure for social workers.

In April, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the Clinical Social Work-Educational Requirements for Licensure (S.B. 1011) into law.

Debra RiggsThe bill assures that social workers who have a master’s degree in social work with a clinical concentration will satisfy Virginia’s educational requirements for clinical licensure, providing the MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, said Debra Riggs, executive director of the Virginia Chapter.

“This bill will allow for more social workers in the state of Virginia to clearly know what educational requirements are needed in order to pursue their social work license,” she said.

The previous regulations were a burdensome and troubling barrier to licensure and employment for Virginia students who graduated from state public universities with accredited clinical social work master’s degrees, Riggs said. The impact stretched even further, affecting many MSWs who completed out-of-state CSWE-accredited programs.

“They too had been denied entrance to the licensure process based on their graduate programs’ curricula,” she said.

Four Virginia schools of social work offer accredited MSW programs: Virginia Commonwealth University, George Mason University, Radford University and Norfolk State University. All four support the legislation.

“S.B. 1011 restores a clear pathway to licensure for graduates of accredited programs, and it also allows accredited programs or universities to maintain their responsibility for overseeing social work curricula,” said VCU Dean James Hinterlong. “It reaffirms that graduates of our (social work) program received the education they need to pursue licensure.”

The new law also provides room for social work programs in Virginia to focus on competency development among students, which supports instructional innovations, he said. It enables Virginia’s four accredited MSW programs “to effectively advise students about the course work necessary to be eligible.”

Riggs said the bill will be effective July 1.

“We are a very transient community,” she said. “This bill will help social workers who graduated from Virginia schools and for those who move here to obtain a license.”