News & Views | December 2019

Sunday, December 01, 2019 3:47 PM | Anonymous

Judy Ratliff


The changes to licensure which have recently gone into effect include establishing separate tests for LMSWs and LBSWs. In the past, both have taken the same test. As a result, LMSWs who  took the old test for BSWs will now have to take the new test for LMSWs. Also, the definition of a Masters Social Worker as it is written in the Code of Virginia Chapter 37 is problematic. It states: "Master's social worker" means a person who engages in the practice of social work and provides non-clinical generalist services, including staff supervision and management." According to Joe Lynch, head of the Virginia Society for Clinical Social Work Legislation Committee,  is working hard on behalf of all Virginia social workers to fix the problem, "We are stuck with that definition until there is a change in the law."

There is a level of mental health professional called the Qualified Mental Health Professional (QMHP) which is regulated by the Board of Counseling. QMHPs are "registered", not licensed, and therefore cost less to employ than licensed MSWs. They are thus more likely to be hired by the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) than licensed social workers. This is complicated by the fact that we define masters social workers, as non-clinical. The QMHP regulations require only registration while our social work regulations require licensure. As it now stands, in order for LBSWs and LMSWs to compete with a QMHP for DMAS jobs, "they will have to acquire registration as a QMHP from the Board of Counseling in order to be paid by DMAS for providing services that are within the scope of practice of their license." (Per Joe Lynch) This process also "may have created an anti-competitive impact on social workers." The GWSCSW and VSCSW are working together to explore corrections to this potentially unfair employment situation for social workers.


The Mental Health in the 21st Century Committee of the Virginia Legislature is chaired by Senator Creigh Deeds. I was able to attend the luncheon sponsored jointly by VSCSW and GWSCSW in Charlottesville this summer to honor Senator Deeds. One of the things he wrote about was the creation of "Step Virginia" by the Committee. The services outlined in the steps are presented below, including their progress.

  1. Same Day Access: 100% implementation as of March, 2019. This only means that a person is given a quick assessment and a day for an appointment on the same day as they call in. It does not mean that they are seen by a therapist on the day of the call.
  2. Case Management: This has always been in place. Additional planning is ongoing.
  3. Primary Care Screening: Launched on 7/1/19.
  4. Crisis Services: Detox services were launched on 8/19; Crisis services will be launched on 10/19.
  5. Outpatient Services were launched on 7/1/19.
  6. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services: Planning began in the 4th quarter, 2019.
  7. Peer Support Services: Planning began in the 4th quarter, 2019.
  8. Veterans Planning Services: Planning began in the 4th quarter, 2019.
  9. Care Coordination: Planning began in the 4th quarter, 2019

(Note: The services that were "launched" have not been fully implemented.)

Judy Ratliff, Chair, Virginia Legislation and Advocacy Committee
PO Box 711 | Garrisonville, VA  22463 | 202-478-7638 |

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