ACTION ALERT: CALLS needed to counter requests to extend the social work licensure exemption! #INVESTINSOCIALWORK


Dear Members, 

Your immediate action is needed.

Though we have made great strides to end the licensure exemption, our fight is far from over. As you are reading this, calls are currently being made by members of the opposition asking for this exemption to continue beyond the scheduled expiry date (July 1, 2018), using false claims to further their agenda (see myths below).

Our efforts so far are getting results at the Capitol. Both the Assembly and Senate have released one-house budget bills that call for an expiration of the licensure exemption (currently set for July 1, 2018) and full implementation of the 2002 social work licensing laws that would require qualified licensed professionals be the ones to provide diagnosis and treatment of serious mental illness. (Read: NASW-NYS Thanks the Caucus for Standing with NYS Social Workers to Push Important Reforms)

We are so close to ending a 14-year tradition of inequality in New York’s mental health care, but need your help getting to the finish line. Your voice is critical to building the strong support needed to end the exemption that allows state agencies to hire unlicensed employees to provide diagnosis and treatment of serious mental illness and invest in the social work profession.  

As such, we need you to dedicate 5 minutes every day for the next two weeks and call on your legislators to ensure the social work licensure exemption ends THIS YEAR.  


Call your Senate and Assembly Members and tell them to end the social work licensure exemption THIS YEAR!



Action Steps Needed


Call Your Legislators



  • Call the NYS Legislature Switchboard:
    Senate: 518-455-2800
    Assembly: 518-455-4100



Your Script

Hello, my name is ____________, I am a constituent from (City), (Zip Code). I am in strong support of ending the social work licensure exemption. As it stands now, state agencies cannot guarantee that individuals accessing mental health services will receive care from a person licensed to provide certain services, such as diagnosis. An end to this exemption is a strong step toward improving the quality of mental health care for all New Yorkers and ending a 14-year tradition of inequality. Thank you for your time.


Dispel myths

Help counter false claims regarding the Social Work Investment Initiative, including:

  • Myth: NASW-NYS wants to restrict access to care.
    FALSE. What we are looking to restrict is the number of diagnoses and treatments provided by unlicensed mental health providers.


  • Myth: An end to the licensure exemption will cost existing jobs and disallow limited permit counselors from performing necessary clinical tasks related to earning their clinical hours.
    FALSE. Part of the Social Work Investment Initiative includes grandparenting for staff currently employed in exempt agencies and only those performing assessments and diagnoses and providing psychotherapy will need to be licensed – as established by the 2002 licensing laws. (See page 49, lines 23-36)


  • Myth: The removal of this exemption would be devastating to individuals.
    While the exemption is in place, agencies cannot guarantee that individuals will receive services from a person licensed to provide certain services, such as diagnosis. This exemption establishes two tiers of care for mental health services, and favors those with private insurance and wealthAt the core of the Social Work Investment Initiative is improving the quality of mental health care for all New Yorkers by ensuring access to a licensed mental health provider — regardless of whether they are accessing services through state agencies or private insurance.Aside from devaluing the requirements set forth by law, this exemption renders the professional standards moot – rendering YOUR license moot.


Get active and spread the message on social media! 

  • Share the action alert widely to your networks
  • Download the Social Work Investment Initiative Advocacy Toolkit at 
  • Use the hashtag #INVESTINSOCIALWORK
  • Highlight the importance of ending the licensure exemption that puts some New Yorkers at risk of seeing an unlicensed provider
  • View the Social Work Investment Initiative: What is it and what’s the urgency video for a refresher:
  • Be sure to tag your state representatives in your post! (Be sure to look up the Twitter handles of your legislators)


Author: NASW-NYS