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
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.
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2016 Legislative Advocacy Day
More than 900 Social Workers Rally to Advocate for HB 1415
Harrisburg, PA- The National Association of Social Workers Pennsylvania Chapter (NASW-PA) held another successful Legislative Advocacy Day on Tuesday, April 12th sponsored by Marywood University School of Social Work. With more than 900 attendees, social workers had a major presence in the Capitol. The day consisted of meetings with more than 200 members of the General Assembly, during which social work students and professionals advocated for House Bill 1415, which creates practice protection for Licensed Clinical Social Workers, ultimately protecting consumers of mental health services in Pennsylvania. Six legislators spoke during the rally in the Rotunda and NASW-PA gained 10 new co-sponsors for their bill, HB1415.
The following legislators spoke at the rally: Representative Leslie Acosta (D-Philadelphia), Senator John P. Blake (D-Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe), Representative Thomas P. Murt (R-Montgomery, Philadelphia), Greg Grasa, Executive Director of House Children and Youth Committee, Representative Dan Frankel (D- , Representative Jason Dawkins (D-Philadelphia), Representative Joanna McClinton (D-Delaware, Philadelphia).
According to NASW-PA Executive Director Johanna Byrd, "NASW-PA is grateful to the members of the General Assembly who met with social workers from across the state, especially those who voiced their support for HB 1415. It is time for Pennsylvania to catch up with the rest of the country to ensure basic consumer protections are in place, and with their help, we can get this bill across the finish line this session.” Pennsylvania is one of only two states (the other being Montana) that does not currently require those who open a therapeutic private practice to be licensed.
2015 Legislative Advocacy Day
April 14th, 2015 - NASW-PA held another successful Legislative Advocacy Day! With nearly 900 attendees, social workers had a major presence in the Capitol. We had a higher media presence this year than any other year. Our rally in the rotunda was covered by PCN, the Democratic caucus, Temple University and Shippensburg University. Five legislators spoke during the rally including Sen. Blake who left Senate session in order to join us. Rep. Frankel added to the excitement of the day with the unanimous passage of a House Resolution recognizing NASW’s 60th anniversary (see video below).