Intense Concern About Licensing Draws 450 to Seek Change
Since 2004, NASW-NYC has been working with representatives of all sectors of the profession and human services to understand the impact of the implementation of the 2002 New York State Licensing Law. Changes made in the 2004 amendment to the Law which narrowed what constitutes clinical social work, as well as the impending sunset of agency-related exemptions and issues related to corporate practice laws, have all had far-reaching, unintended consequences on individual social workers, service providers and the client populations they serve. Through numerous discussions and forums with stakeholders, it has become clear that this impact will continue and probably worsen, if changes to the licensing process are not made. NASW-NYC believes that in order for social workers to continue to provide services reflecting high standards in their work with clients and communities in New York City and New York State, members of the social work profession must have clarity on, and develop a common understanding of the issues, and they must speak as a united voice in Albany – advocating together for the necessary changes.
On December 10, 2009, NASW-NYC organized a Licensing Teach-In and Call to Action for over 450 social workers to help clarify the policy issues facing individuals, agencies and the profession of social work as a whole, and to identify next steps for making change. Held at the Pope Auditorium at Fordham University, the event was free of charge and was open to all social workers.
Objectives for the evening were framed and fleshed out in a plenary address, delivered by the Chapter’s Executive Director, Dr. Robert Schachter which included: 1) educating social workers about the policy issues related to pursuing the LMSW and the LCSW, 2) informing social workers about the collective advocacy efforts in which NASW-NYC is engaged with other organizations, and 3) beginning a grassroots mobilization of social workers to advocate for changes in the licensing law.
Dr. Megan McLaughlin, NASW-NYC First Vice President, and Gwen Butler, NASW-NYC Executive Committee Member, served as co-moderators throughout the evening. Following welcoming remarks by Dr. Peter Vaughan, Dean of the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, Dr. McLaughlin underscored how crucial it is that the licensing process accurately reflects the diversity of social work practice in the 21st century, both in content and in composition of the profession – an assertion that elicited applause from the audience.
After the plenary, attendees were guided in the first stage of a Call to Action, at which time those equipped with blackberries and iPhones sent emails on the spot to strategically-positioned legislators. (For more details about the next steps in the Call to Action, please visit the Chapter’s website at www.naswnyc.org.) Participants then moved into breakout groups to discuss the following: 1) the qualifying examination for the LMSW, 2) challenges of working toward obtaining the LCSW, and 3) the step-by-step process of applying for licensure, respectively.
Dr. Schachter noted how the anticipation and preparation for the event spurred on the creation of the two issue papers – one on the LMSW and one on the LCSW – and how the process of revising these papers with input from the Chapter leadership and staff brought the issues of licensing into sharper focus than ever before. Dr. Schachter also acknowledged that the sharing of the issue papers and event itself represented NASW-NYC’s accountability to its members and to the members of the social work profession in general. Both issue papers are included in their entirety in the following pages and on the Chapter website.
Moving forward from the Teach-In, NASW-NYC will keep members abreast of its work on licensing issues, including the continued collaboration with other organizations that have a stake in making the necessary changes.