Adele Natter & Margot Aronson, DC Legislation and Advocacy Co-Chairs
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.
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