DC Legislative Advocacy | September 2023

Wednesday, September 13, 2023 12:01 PM | Anonymous

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 (telladelelicsw@gmail.com).

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.

PO Box 711 | Garrisonville, VA  22463 | 202-478-7638 | admin@gwscsw.org

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