The Virginia Board of Social Work (VBSW) started the "Fast Track" on 8/15/2018 for proposed regulations to implement the 2018 General Assembly law adding definitions of Bachelors Social Worker and Master's Social Worker. The regulations have advanced through all stages and are now on the Governor's desk, where they have been for over 130 days. Please note that there is no timeline for how long regulations can be at the governor's office stage.
Joe Lynch, legislative vice president for Virginia Society for Clinical Social Work (VSCSW) has written to Dr. David E. Brown, Director of the Virginia Department of Health Professions on behalf of both of our Societies. The letter requests that Dr. Brown consider "updating the language in Code Sections of Virginia law that contain the phrase"...the individual's treating physician or the individual's treating clinical psychologist..." to include other licensed mental health professionals, such as social workers and professional counselors.
Joe Lynch has submitted public comments reflecting concerns of both of our Societies on aspects of definitions and requirements for Qualified Mental Health Professionals (QMHPs) that affect social workers who are also QMHPs. More will be presented on this as these issues evolve.
Several Laws were passed this year that will help low-income and other Virginia residents:
- People can no longer have their licenses suspended if they owed court fines and fees.
- Laws that disproportionally favored landlords over tenants contributed to Virginia having one of the highest rates of rental evictions in the country. According to Delegate Ken Plum, "a series of revisions to create a better balance in the law and that provides more options for tenants should make the laws operate more fairly."
- Delegate Plum also noted that "Virginia has had a very bad record in its management of its foster care program. Major changes in the laws related to foster children should greatly improve the situation."
- On April 29, 2019, Governor Northam vetoed Senate Bill 1579, which falls short of establishing criteria in the Code of Virginia by which congressional and state legislative districts must be drawn.
- On 5/1/19, Governor Northam announced his commitment to oppose additional mandatory minimum sentences for the remainder serif his term. He wrote in a Washington Post editorial that "Mandatory minimums are focused on punishment, not rehabilitation...we need to focus on evidence-based approaches that ensure equitable treatment under the law." He stated further that: "My commitment today will not resolve all of the issues with our criminal justice system" but he views it as a step "to make our Commonwealth fairer and more equitable for communities of color."
- On 3/14/2019, the Governor and the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and developmental Services (BHDS) announced that "all 40 Community Service Boards (CSBs) in the Commonwealth have Same Day Access available to Virginians seeking mental health services in their communities. A person in need of a mental health evaluation can now access walk in hours at any CSB in Virginia without an appointment, instead of waiting days, or even weeks, to receive an assessment."
- On February 28, 2019, the Governor signed a series of measures aimed at reducing eviction rates in the Commonwealth.