The DC license renewal period ended on July 31, 2023. There are 6,464 social workers of various license levels – of which 4,714 are LICSWs. As many will recall, there was a flurry of controversy on the GWSCSW list serve regarding possible delays in license approvals due to the Board of Social Work needing to complete background checks on all applicants. A grassroots effort led by several Society members helped to stave off what could have been an emergency situation – for both licensees and employers – and to ensure that applicants received their licenses prior to the deadline. While many will agree that the threat of having your license delayed or denied due to an administrative logjam does not seem ethical, we are all reminded to get our renewals done early in order to avoid any concerns. During the Board of Social Work meeting of July 24, 2023, Board members reiterated how often and in what ways—including email, website and on social media -- the Board had alerted social workers to licensing renewal requirements. All social workers are welcome to attend the monthly Board meetings – it’s a great way to stay informed, get to know our Board members and lobby for various interests. There’s no Board meeting in August; check the website for upcoming meeting dates.
For our next licensing cycle – August 1, 2023 through July 31, 2025 – we are required to complete 28 of the total 40 CEUs either in person or during live interactive webinars. It remains to be seen how many of our CEU providers will begin to host actual in person trainings. Luckily, live webinars are being counted as “in person.”
Recommendations have been made to the Board for a number (unspecified) of group supervision hours to be counted towards licensure; the Board is reportedly reviewing this matter but has not yet come to a decision. Footnote: it is not persuasive to let them know that other jurisdictions such as Maryland and Virginia already count group hours towards licensure. DC doesn’t take kindly to being compared to our counterparts across the bridge or down the road!
The DC Legislative and Advocacy (L&A) Committee has been focused on lobbying for the Social Work Interstate Compact. To that end, Adele Natter and Anthony Hain met with the legislative assistant to the Committee on Health; other committee members have written to various Council members. Laura Groshong, chair of the Clinical Social Work Association, has provided bullet points to use in our lobbying efforts (see the CSWA website HERE) along with emails sent to GWSCSW from Laura. At the most recent CSWA town hall on August 15, 2023, the point was made that DC is unlikely to join the Compact due to there being a severe financial cost in doing so because so many social workers who practice in DC do not live there. All social workers are also welcome to attend CSWA’s monthly town halls which provide an opportunity to meet, share with and learn from social workers all over the country. Please see the CSWA website for information. Please note that although there are some issues that may make it harder or us to achieve our goals regarding DC joining the Interstate Compact, the DC L&A Committee is still working with members on the DC City Council to help them understand the benefit the Compact brings to military spouses. Those who may be stationed elsewhere temporarily could not continue to practice without either having DC join the Compact, or going through the onerous process of applying Social Work Licenses at their temporary assignments. If you are licensed in DC and interested in helping to advocate for this, please contact Adele Natter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Board of Social Work also did not speak favorably about the Compact during the July meeting. While this may be a grave disappointment to many of us, taking the revenue hit into account does make some sense. At the same time, the BOSW indicated that they are exploring an alternate idea of forming some kind of reciprocal agreement with MD and VA; this will require legislation so won’t happen overnight.
Finally, another bill: DC B259, the Social Work License Modernization Amendment Act of 2023, is already before the Council. This bill would eliminate the exam requirement at the BSW and LGSW levels with the hope of increasing the number of social workers in the workforce which is sorely understaffed. Many social service agencies are unable to hire enough workers, since many are prohibited from being considered since they have not passed the licensing exam. Several MSWs spoke about their personal struggles at one of the recent BOSW meetings, attesting to their years of experience in the field and commitment to the profession while at the same time encountering difficulties with the exam. One of the exam writers usually attends the CSWA town halls, providing an opportunity to hear from someone “on the ground,” working to make the exam process more inclusive and equitable for all. Everyone is encouraged to pay attention, stay engaged and do even one small thing to help move these important efforts forward.
Summary prepared by Adele Natter, with editorial assistance from Gina Sangster.
License Renewals: Various staff members emphasized the importance of getting your application in early. If you wait, you may not receive your license before the current one expires. You should submit the application early, even if you have not completed all the required CEs (select option “Will complete CEUs by July 31”). The Board has hired a second Health Licensing Specialist, Anthea Issacs, to help Mavis.
The Pathways to Behavioral Health Bill, to create a pipeline of mental health workers, was funded for FY ’24, should it be passed. It would provide tuition and related expenses at UDC for District residents and DC employees to prepare for mental health careers.
The BOSW is having discussions with MD and VA to look at ways to provide reciprocity across our jurisdictions.
The next BOSW meeting will be June 26, 10:00 am, and will be Virtual for the public.
DC L&A Committee has expanded and now includes Gina Sangster, Deborah Newmark, Anthony Hain and Carolina Duarte.
At recent Board of Social Work meetings, we proposed that group supervision hours be counted for in the number of hours of supervision required for licensure. The Board was concerned about the size of such supervision groups and how these hours would be tracked and accounted for. The BOSW deferred consideration of the request because the Board Chair was not present. A final vote by the Board is due this month (February). DC Board meetings are held the last Monday of the month. The next DC Board meeting is Monday, is March 27 on Zoom at 10:00. Attendance by our members makes a definite impression on the Board.
Interstate Social Work Compact: Stakeholders have been meeting to write the language and standards for a Social Work Compact that would allow practice across State lines for social workers licensed in participating States. The Compact must be approved by the legislatures in at least seven States.
The DC L&A Committee is getting geared up to show our support and lobby DC City Council members to allow DC to participate in the Interstate Compact. We welcome the input and participation of people who are interested in making the Social Work Compact a reality.
Adele Natter, Chair, DC Legislation and Advocacy Committee
The DC Board of Social Work (BOSW) makes and enforces policies that affect our work, such as licensing guidelines. These policies are announced at BOSW meetings and are also placed on the Board’s website. The Board solicits our input and feedback.
What is our part? There is only one LICSW on the DC Board, so their understanding of clinical social work tends to be constrained. Unlike the other jurisdictions, we have no lobbyist. While being very respectful, we need to educate the Board about issues that we are dealing with and suggest policies we think are needed, and inform the Board about the real-world effects that the Board’s policies have on our practices.
The L&A Committee responds to issues that members care about. Recently, we advocated to allow clinical supervision in a group format to count towards required hours of supervision for licensure. The BOSW is also keenly aware of problems with the ASWB exam, particularly disparate pass rates. The Board Chair, Velva Spriggs, stated that the BOSW is continuing to discuss and evaluate the issue, and has not taken a position.
The BOSW approved a hybrid meeting schedule for 2023, meaning that in the early months of the year, meetings will be fully virtual, and in later months some will be in-person. The BOSW meets on the 4th Monday of the month, at 10:00. The Webex meeting link can be found on the Board website: https://dchealth.dc.gov/service/social-work-licensing, under “Social Work Agendas”.
The Board members do listen to our statements, and our presence – think strength in numbers here – increases our impact. I am appealing to our DC-licensed members to consider joining the DC L&A Committee. If you can come to Board meeting(s), you’ll get an impression of how the Board works. If not, there are other roles and tasks you can do! Please contact me at email@example.com.
Adele Natter, DC Legislation and Advocacy Co-Chair
Board of Social Work Meetings
Meetings take place on the 4th Monday of the month at 10:00 AM. The next meeting will be held on June 27, 2022. The meetings are virtual and anyone can attend. The Board takes notice of our participation and this allows us to increase the Board's awareness of our practice issues and allows us to influence Board decisions. Please contact me for instructions as to how to participate in these meetings.
For example, telehealth continues to be permitted, with no end date currently in view. Social workers seeing clients in DC must be licensed in DC, whether they are seeing clients using telehealth or not. Clinical supervision is permitted in person, through video, or telephone. On February 28, the DC Board of Social Work extended the permission for use of telephone or video for supervision until Dec. 31, 2022.
By order of the Mayor, all health professionals, including clinical social workers, must attest to having been fully vaccinated, including a booster shot. Social workers must attest to meeting this criterion by reporting it on the vaccine reporting portal that was created: https://doh.force.com/ver/s/vaccinereporting. Attesting is simple and quick, and must be completed by March 1, 2022.
Spurred by community agencies’ requests for supervised practice for the BSW and MSW graduates employed in their agencies, the Board created a Supervised Practice Letter. This enables BSWs and MSWs to practice under supervision of an LISW or LICSW for 90 days, while they are waiting to take the licensing exam. Such supervised practice will be approved only one time, and cannot be renewed. If the applicant fails the exam, he or she will be required to stop practicing immediately.
The GWSCSW brought to the attention of the Chairperson of the Board the fact that the pass rate for graduates of color is lower than for other graduates. The Chairperson brought this to the attention of the Association of Social Work Boards, which maintained that the exam is not biased. GWSCSW is currently processing ways of addressing this problem.
Board of Social Work meetings are held the fourth Monday of the month at 10:00 am. You can find the agenda and the link at https://dchealth.dc.gov/publication/board-social-work-agendas. The Board takes notice of our Society’s participation and has respectfully considered our input and feedback as to how Board policies affect us and our practices.
Adele Natter & Margot Aronson, DC Legislation and Advocacy Co-Chairs
Although the new DC social work licensing period began on August 1st, because of the ongoing COVID pandemic, we still have a lot to think about from the last renewal, including last minute additions to the requirements. We’re also keeping an eye on which regulations have changed and which will be continued through July 31, 2023.
The DC Board of Social Work expects to send out an announcement to all DC social work licensees clarifying final decisions on policies and requirements soon. Meanwhile, we’ve outlined here some highlights for you, with information as of our newsletter deadline:
CE Requirements - both for our last renewal and going forward
A total of 40 CEs are required in the two-year licensing period. Given pandemic conditions, the Board has decided that none need to be live face-to-face through the 2023 renewal.
Do be sure you have all your CEs for 2019-2021 ready to provide the Board in case you are audited. If you realize you are missing something, get it NOW! The penalty will be significantly lighter with your apology for lateness, than it will be if you cannot provide more than, say, 39 CEs, or no Public Health CEs.
Unexpected But Required: post-renewal period CEs due Sept 30
This year in mid-July, as most of us were busy checking and double-checking to see that we had all our CE ducks in a row, the Health Department issued a new requirement. All health workers would need 2 Covid vaccine-related CEs, and they would need to be completed by Sept. 30.
Finding appropriate trainings was a challenge, but not impossible. These two CEs are to be added to your file of CEs for the 2021-2023 renewal, and can be counted toward the Public Health requirement.
Auditing of these two CEs will take place soon. If you haven’t already earned them, get to it right away! Our understanding is that if you are late but can show that you’ve earned them, you will have a fine to pay. If you haven’t earned them when you are audited, you will not be able to practice for a period of time, and pay a more significant fine.
The same memo that each health licensee received in mid-July also set forth a requirement for all health workers (that includes us) to attest to having been vaccinated, or have a medical or religious exemption on file with the Health Department by September 30th. The attestation or exemption was to be filed on line on the DC Board of Social Work website.
Again, auditing of the vaccine or exemption will take place shortly. If you have not already filed online, do so ASAP, as failure to do so is likely to reap professional consequences.
Telehealth: With video? Audio-only? For supervision? For insurance reimbursement?
To the question of video and audio-only: Telehealth is permitted in DC, with no end date currently. This applies to therapy using video as well as audio-only. This means that DC licensees may practice with clients located in the District using telehealth. As for any clients NOT physically located in the District during your session, you must first check the requirements of the state in which the specific client resides.
Re: Supervision. Supervision can also be conducted virtually, and we anticipate this will continue through the 2021-2023 renewal.
As for insurance coverage, this is not a matter controlled by the Board of Social Work. There is proposed legislation for continuing telehealth coverage circulating at the national level at present, and the US Department of Health and Human Services is considering how to handle telehealth reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid after the pandemic. As these efforts progress (or fail to progress), we may want to advocate for continued coverage with our District Council’s Health and Human Services Committee and with our Office of the Insurance Commissioner. At present, however, we can only advise that you check with the particular insurance carrier as to whether telehealth sessions will be covered under your client’s insurance.
Supervised Practice Letter
The Board is creating - and clarification is pending - on a policy allowing new MSWs to practice social work under supervision between graduation and sitting for the ASWB exam. This has been a particularly difficult issue during the pandemic, as the wait time can be a number of months. Without the anticipated go-ahead from the Board, unlicensed MSWs cannot perform work in the social work scope of practice without being liable for fines, even if supervised, and indeed, their supervisors, too, would be liable.
The COVID Waiver Expires for Out-of-Jurisdiction Licensees
Social workers with a state license in good standing have been able to practice telehealth under the COVID waiver even though not licensed in DC. The waiver expired on October 31, following lots of warning and information about how to move forward. If you are unlicensed in DC now, you may no longer practice in DC, and yes, that means telehealth. Stop practicing ASAP if you have been doing so without a DC license since Oct 31. Submit an application for a DC license, show that you are licensed in good standing in another state, and complete the criminal background check. 48 hours after a clean background check, a 90-day temporary license will be issued.
Questions or requests for help or clarification should go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional details can be found on the Board website,
The next meeting of the DC Board of Social Work will be January 24, beginning at 10 AM. See the Agenda section on the Board’s website for more information about the meeting.
We hope this is helpful, and we look forward to considering other issues of importance to clinical social workers in DC in the near future! Meantime, happy holidays to you.
Please use our usual newsletter bio info as appropriate
Although the DC Public Health Emergency Order expired on July 24, 2021, Mayor Bowser has kept the Public Emergency Order in effect. This leaves leeway for quick action as needed while the pandemic continues to be a fluctuating issue. (See Mayor’s Order 2021-096.) Here’s how things stand now for clinical social workers:
The option for paper applications ended in June, and all 19 Boards under the Dept. of Health switched over to online only renewals. This system was not only new to us, it was new to the Board of Social Work as well, and naturally there were some IT glitches. Your representatives were busy fielding questions from DC licensees and often just as quickly turning to the Board for the answers. We are very grateful to Mavis Azariah, the Board’s Health Licensing Specialist, for her patience and responsiveness to our members.
Social workers licensed in DC may continue to provide telehealth services to clients in DC. There has been considerable pressure at the national level to limit telehealth, particularly audio-only, as soon as the pandemic emergency has passed. Happily, the DC Department of Health does not anticipate any changes limiting telehealth practice.
At the July Board of Social Work meeting, we emphasized the view of our members who would like be sure that telemedicine, including audio-only, remains an option for psychotherapy, even after the pandemic has ended.
Reminder: Any social worker seeing client(s) in DC must be licensed in DC by mid-September. The waiver to practice in DC with a license from another jurisdiction officially ended with the end of the Public Health Emergency on July 24, 2021, but the DC Department of Health provided a 60-day extension to allow time for obtaining the DC license. The extension is over on September 23, 2021; after that date, anyone without a DC license who sees a client in DC, either in person or by telehealth (including audio-only), can be sanctioned for practicing without a license.
Supervision may be conducted virtually until December 31, 2021. The requirement for in-person supervision, suspended until the end of this year, will be reassessed in November or December.
The Board has a new attorney, Joanne Drozdoski. A new Executive Director will be introduced at the September 27 meeting.
CEs earned in the last renewal period could be randomly audited in October and November. Be sure to have your CE’s ready to send — preferably as a single PDF including all your CE documents — if you are audited.
CEs Public Health topics
The Department of Health requires of licensees of all 19 of its health occupation boards (e.g., Psychology, Nursing, Professional Counselors, Physical Therapists, etc) to complete CEs in Public Health topics. You can see the complete list on the GWSCSW website under DC Legislative Advocacy.
The COVID CE surprise
The notice that was emailed to all DC-licensed health professionals on August 11 requires that 2 CEs specifically focused on COVID ( eg, topics such as facts and myths about vaccinations) be completed by the end of September. Following some vigorous grumbling, a number of us have come around to the understanding that, given the severity of the pandemic at present, it makes a lot of sense for the Health Department to want its providers to be knowledgeable about the realities and public health concerns, and to be able to help others understand as well.
Once you have obtained the 2 CEs, save them in the file you are starting for the new licensing renewal period. They can probably be used to fulfill 2 of the required Public Health CEs. And in any case, be sure you have them on record, and dated by Sept 30, 2021.
CE Face- o-Face requirements
Face-to-face requirements have been lifted throughout the 2019 to 2021 licensing period, as the Board has recognized the need for safety in the face of the pandemic. The requirement automatically returns to the previous standard for the new licensing period. However, the Board plans to discuss whether to extend permission to earn CEs in recorded sessions at the September 27 Board meeting. Once their decision is confirmed, they will email all DC social workers with the updated information.
Board of Social Work Open Sessions: Meetings are typically held on the 4th Monday of each month, beginning at 10 AM. A detailed agenda, the virtual meeting link, and the minutes from the last meeting are all on the website several days before the meeting. The Board’s website address: https://dchealth.dc.gov/service/social-work-licensing. Or just google “DC Board of Social Work.” Attendance at Board meetings is encouraged: The Board has welcomed our members’ input, as well as feedback from agencies and community organizations, regarding the effects of Board policies and how they are experienced.
Adele Natter Margot Aronson, Committee co-chairs
DC LICENSE RENEWALS
As of the first week in May, the District of Columbia Board of Social Work has opened the renewal process for DC licensees due by July 31, 2021. All current licensees should have received an email with detailed instructions, sent by Mavis Azariah, the Board’s Health Licensing Specialist, in late April. Be aware that there will be no paper option this year; all renewals must be made on-line.
If you have not received the informative email, please let Ms. Azariah know. And, if your information (name, mailing address, email address, phone number, etc.) has changed since your last renewal, please send your new contact information to her at email@example.com. For name changes, you will need to include a copy of the name change document/s (marriage certificate, divorce decree, etc.).
The Public Health Emergency was extended by Mayor Bowser to May 20, 2021. At this writing, it is not expected to be extended again beyond that date.
The DC Licensure Waiver was extended to May 20, 2021 and was recently amended so that the waiver is in effect 60 days beyond the end date of the Public Health Emergency. But any clinical social workers working for continuity of care in DC under the waiver, who plan to continue working in DC, should apply for licensure in DC now.
Telehealth Policy: Clinical social workers can practice using audio, visual, and telephone, as long as they practice within ethical and HIPAA standards of care. This policy will likely be in place for some time after the end of the public health emergency, or perhaps made permanent. Watch for an announcement on the Board’s website as well as the GWSCSW list-serve.
Continuing Education policy changes: The requirement for live, in-person, interactive CE classes has been suspended during the current licensing period, to July 31, 2021. CE classes can be recorded or online; but in-person classes also meet the CE requirements.
40 hours of approved CE units per licensing cycle are required and must include:
The required Public Health Priorities CEUs must relate to one or more of the following key public health priorities:
Ethics CEUs can be used to satisfy the Public Health Priorities when the topic fits one of the 10 categories listed above (which are pretty broad). On your license renewal you will indicate which Public Health Priority is covered by the CEU.
LBGTQ CEUs are separate and may not be used to satisfy another requirement.
There is no longer a requirement for HIV CEUs.
More detailed information and cites can be found on the DC Social Work Board website.
DC BOARD OF SOCIAL WORK OPEN SESSIONS
Thank you to everyone for your attention and questions about the DC Board of Social Work, its policies, and policy changes during the pandemic. Quite a few of our members have attended Board meetings and advocated on issues of interest. The Board has taken notice of your interest and advocacy and has become more responsive and cognizant of the effects of policies and policy changes ‘on the ground.'
Remember: DC Board of Social Work Open Session meetings are, typically, the 4th Monday of each month, beginning at 10 AM. A detailed agenda, the virtual meeting link, and the minutes from the last meeting are all on the website several days before the meeting. Proposed agenda items must be submitted to Ms. Azariah at least a week before the meeting. We have observed that robust attendance by the public is welcomed and, clearly, valued by the Board. NEXT DC BOARD MEETING is scheduled for Monday, June 28, 10:00 am
AND A SHOUT-OUT FOR DC ON THE HILL …
On January 3 of this year, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced bill HR 51 to the House, with 216 co-sponsors in support of DC Statehood. The bill passed on April 22, with a bipartisan 216 to 208 vote!
The House bill is now in the Senate. The Senate version, S 51, introduced by Senator Tom Carper of Delaware on January 26, has 45 cosponsors. The numbers of cosponsors on each bill represent a huge (and obviously effective) effort on the part of District residents to educate our families and friends and colleagues in states across the nation about the importance of this issue. Kudos!
And now, the rights of DC residents to have a voice in the selection of those who make the laws we must obey - and an end to the rights of Congressional members from around the country to nullify and amend our local laws at whim - is in the hands of the Senate.
Adele Natter, LICSW, Co-Chairs the GWSCSW Legislation & Advocacy Committee for DC.. Adele has been an active participant on the Committee for the past four years; she represented GWSCSW on a Board of Social Work sub-committee, which included NASW and CSWA representatives. Adele maintains a private practice focused on helping individuals with anger and emotional regulation issues. She is also a Clinical Instructor in the Psychiatry Residency Program of the George Washington University Medical School. She holds a BA in Psychology from UCLA and received her MSW from the University of Maryland.
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Several issues of concern for DC social workers were on the agenda at the January DC Board of Social Work open session meeting, which was attended by more than a dozen social workers representing the interests of GWSCSW and other agencies.
First, the stats and some administrative data:
One issue that generated a lot of discussion was the possible creation of a Supervised Practice Form. The problem is that many agencies hire new BSWs and MSWs, with the understanding that they will sit for and pass the licensing exam. In some cases, pandemic conditions have severely limited test-taking opportunities. In others, candidates do not pass the exam, and are then practicing without a license. Representatives of several agencies affirmed their desire to be in compliance with the regulations and also to support and mentor their social workers to pass the licensing exam and demonstrate their competency.
The Supervised Practice Form would authorize the practice of social work for a limited period of up to 180 days, under supervision, before the scheduled exam. The supervisor would be responsible for submitting the Supervised Practice Form, which could be done only one time. The Board’s verification page would indicate failure on the exam, and the worker would have to reapply to take the exam and, in the meantime, cease practicing social work.
A program to certify community health workers (CHW) is being considered in the DC Department of Health and DC Department of Behavioral Health, to include frontline workers on outreach teams, in hospital wrap around services, and in informal social support roles. Such a program would be based on a national definition and hopefully lead to standardized training and tools, and enhance the standing of individuals from the community who provide much needed support services.
As currently envisioned, this certification would be voluntary; regulatory standards and oversight were not mentioned.
A final note: Any DC licensee who did not receive the Board’s January 4th email should first double-check to see your correct email address used for official Board business (your CE submissions, for example) before alerting Mavis Azariah.
PO Box 711 | Garrisonville, VA 22463 | 202-478-7638 | firstname.lastname@example.org