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News & Press: Updates for Members

VICTORY! Social Work Licensure Bill Passes the Legislature!

Thursday, October 31, 2019   (3 Comments)
Posted by: Valerie Arendt
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After two years of bill drafting and meeting with stakeholders and legislators; and another 39 weeks and two days lobbying at the legislature, NASW-NC has succeeded in saving clinical social work licensure in North Carolina! On October 30 and 31, 2019, the North Carolina Senate and House passed SB537 which included eight bills that were merged into one including required changes to the Social Work Practice Act.

Background: The North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board (NCSWCLB) reached out to NASW North Carolina in December 2017 to let us know they were out of compliance with the way North Carolina administers the Association of Social Work Board (ASWB) Clinical Social Work exam. ASWB said that North Carolina can no longer use the clinical social work exam if NCSWCLB doesn't come into compliance with their exam use policy by June 30, 2021. In order to correct this exam misuse, the North Carolina Social Worker Certification and Licensure Act needed to be amended and the only way to do that was to work with the legislature to introduce a bill with changes to our social work statute.

Fast forward a year and three months and we successfully had HB203 introduced by the three social workers in the North Carolina House of Representatives on February 26, 2019. It was assigned to three committees. IMPORTANT TO NOTE: NASW-NC prevented the addition of the Master Level Social Work Exam requirement for all LCSWAs that NCSWCLB wanted in this bill language. NASW-NC believes an additional exam is a financial hardship and would delay entry into the profession for new social workers. Neither ASWB nor NCSWCLB could provide any data that proves this additional exam would better protect the public, so they agreed with us to leave out the additional requirement for another exam- this is a big example of NASW-NC's advocacy work for our membership!

After no movement on HB203 into assigned committees, NASW-NC worked with House leadership to combine three bills in order for our bill to make it through session. Our new bill, HB678 successfully passed the NC House in May.

A short-lived victory because this bill sat in several Senate committees all summer with no movement. Kay Castillo, NASW-NC Director of Advocacy, Policy and Legislation then worked with House leadership to have HB678 combined into SB537, which had already passed the Senate. On August 5, SB537 passed the House unanimously but the Senate did not concur and our bill was sent to a House/Senate Conference Committee to be worked out. The Senate voted not to concur because they wanted to add another bill (not related to social wok licensure) to the bill.

Two months later, and many, many, many hours lobbying by NASW-NC, the Conference Committee approved SB537, a combined EIGHT bills, for a Senate vote. We are thrilled SB537 has successfully passed the Senate and House and is on its way to Governor Cooper to be signed into law. (UPDATE: Governor Cooper signed SB 537 on November 6, 2019!)

I cannot stress to you enough how critical having a lobbyist is to getting any legislation passed. Your NASW-NC lobbyist Kay Castillo has been working tirelessly at the NC General Assembly for the last 40 weeks to get this law passed and essentially save clinical social work licensure for the entire state. This would not be possible without your NASW membership. Thank you.


What is next with these licensure changes?

NASW-NC will be getting out information about these licensure changes to our membership in the next few months, but ultimately, as of January 1, 2021, all LCSWAs will need to have all 3,000 hours of clinical social work experience and 100 hours of supervision before they can take the ASWB clinical social work licensure exam.


If you are a social worker and not a member of NASW, please know we are the only organization protecting the entire profession and we need your voice. Please join us today:

Valerie Arendt, MSW, MPP

NASW-NC Executive Director


Karen Bullock says...
Posted Thursday, January 2, 2020
Valerie, although I have already extended my gratitude and deep appreciation, to you personally, for the advocacy of NASW-NC in this monumental effort and achievement, I was speaking with someone today about the success of the Social Work Licensure Bill and was reminded of how important it is to share this public Congratulatory remark to you, as well as, your NASW-NC staff colleagues, and us, the members... Thank you!!!
Marcia N. Davis says...
Posted Thursday, November 14, 2019
Thank you for all your hard work, and congratulations on your success! I very much appreciate all the very competent people at NASW who have our backs day in and day out. Sincerely, Marcia Davis, LCSW
Kathryn S. Culhane says...
Posted Thursday, October 31, 2019
Congratulations on this momentous accomplishment! Staying so grateful for NASW-NCs advocacy! THANK YOU!

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