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Legislative Education and Advocacy Day
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2017 Legislative Education and Advocacy Day (LEAD)

WHEN: April 18, 2017 | 7:30am – 3:00pm
WHERE: Pennsylvania State Capitol | Harrisburg, PA

What is Legislative Education and Advocacy Day?
Legislative Education and Advocacy Day (LEAD) is an annual event hosted NASW-PA, at which nearly 1,000 social work students and professionals gather to advocate for a piece of legislation that is relevant to the social work profession. Throughout the day attendees have the opportunity to visit their legislators and tell them why this legislation is important and how it will benefit the Commonwealth.

What to Expect:
Legislative Education and Advocacy Day (LEAD) is for social work students and professionals. We expect student attendees from PA schools of social work as well as professional social workers from all across the Commonwealth. This is a great chance for you to experience legislative advocacy as well as the law-making process. This is also a great chance for professionals, experienced in the legislative process, to come show their support for the social work profession. Last year we had six legislators speak at our rally and we gained multiple supporters for our bill. We expect this year to be just as successful, if not more.

What Are We Advocating For? HB 445.
NASW-PA is working in collaboration with Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Workers (PSCSW) to pass HB 445 (previously HB 1415). HB 445 of the 2017-2018 legislative session amends the Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act to create practice protection and update the scope of practice for clinical social workers. Practice protection ensures that only those who hold a professional license to deliver clinical social work services in Pennsylvania may provide such services and treatment. Pennsylvania is severely behind in this essential step towards consumer protection. The Act will also be amended to add "diagnosis” to the clinical social worker scope of practice. This legislation would ensure Pennsylvania joins every other state in the nation, other than Montana, in establishing a method of protection for Pennsylvania citizens in the receipt of mental health services.

Pennsylvania currently has no restrictions on who can provide clinical mental health treatment services. Services are provided to a wide array of individuals facing many different life challenges. At a time when individuals and families are in crisis, they are not just looking for someone with whom to talk; they are seeking a person with the education, experience and appropriate credentials to deliver mental health services. Creation of practice protection for clinical social workers would ensure that providers meet competency standards and adhere to ethical practice. Currently, anyone can hang out a sign and claim to deliver mental health services within the Commonwealth when they may not be equipped to provide those services. Take the following as examples:
  • A social worker lost his/her license in the state of New York for an unknown reason. Rather than fulfill obligations set forth by a New York State Board, this professional relocated his/her private practice to Pennsylvania because it is the only state of the five surrounding where licensure is not required to practice.
  • Another professional is also practicing in Pennsylvania without a professional license. A sexual abuse survivor seeks out this professional’s services to address recurring trauma. This professional tells this survivor that they are unwilling to accept private health insurance and the client pays for services out of pocket. The reality is this professional is not licensed and therefore they are not eligible for reimbursement from private health insurance companies. There is no accountability in place to protect this already victimized individual.
The State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors, is the only regulated board that does not have legal practice protection in place. A modest step forward, the proposed basic practice protection ensures that individuals providing clinical social work services are regulated in some way by the government. Either they work for a regulated entity or they themselves are a licensed provider, and therefore, they are regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of State. In order to adequately ensure public protection, there must be a minimum level of values, skill and responsibility for all who practice clinical social work.

In addition to the creation of practice protection, this legislation would add "diagnosis” to the scope of practice for licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs), which 45 other states already have in place. Even though insurance companies presently accept diagnostic codes from LCSWs for services rendered, it is critical that diagnosis be added to the scope of practice for LCSWs, as it is a professional privilege already being applied. Every state surrounding Pennsylvania allows licensed clinical social workers to diagnose clients, putting Pennsylvania at a competitive disadvantage in terms of our workforce and the services they can provide to their clients.

Interested in sponsoring Legislative Advocacy Day? click HERE for the sponsorship opportunities flyer.

If you have questions about Legislative Advocacy Day contact Tyler Woodcook at twoodcook.naswpa@socialworkers.org

Enter your address below to find out who your legislators are and how to contact them!



Click here to see highlights from Legislative Education and Advocacy Day 2016
Click here to see highlights from Legislative Education and Advocacy Day 2015
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