NASW-NYS launches #InvestinSocialWork advocacy campaign



For nearly 14 years, state agencies have been exempt from hiring licensed employees. Programs operated, funded, or regulated by seven of the state’s agencies claim that unlicensed employees are qualified, despite the fact that these employees are not required to have the same extensive education and external legal standards of professional conduct as licensed practitioners. Currently, state agencies have until July 1, 2018, to comply with the licensing requirements passed in 2002.


Exempt agencies include:

  • Office of Mental Health (OMH)
  • Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD)
  • Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS)
  • Office for Children and Family Services (OCFS)
  • Office for the Aging (SOFA)
  • Department of Health (DOH)
  • Department of Corrections and Community Services (DOCCS)


In December 2017, NASW-NYS launched the #InvestinSocialWork campaign, a public awareness and advocacy campaign that seeks to end the licensure exemption and implement the Social Work Investment Initiative. We are counting on our members to join in our advocacy efforts. 


What is #InvestinSocialWork?

#InvestinSocialWork is a public awareness campaign established in December 2017, that seeks to end the licensure exemption and implement the Social Work Investment Initiative, a legislative initiative that seeks to secure a substantial state investment into the social work profession, in the context of this year’s legislative budget. This campaign is led by NASW-NYS, and campaign supporters include the state’s leading social work organizations.


What is the Social Work Investment Initiative?


The Social Work Investment Initiative (SWII) is a legislative initiative that seeks to secure a substantial state investment into the social work profession. Specifically, it demands:

  1. Full implementation of the state’s 2002 social work licensure law
  2. $4 million Loan Forgiveness Program for Social Workers specifically working in a currently exempt setting
  3. $18 million incentive program for currently exempt agencies to increase the number of licensed social workers available to provide supervision
  4. $500,000 for the development and distribution of culturally sensitive and ESL test preparation to assist those who are vulnerable to, or have already, failed the LMSW and LCSW exams
  5. $250,000 for the development and implementation of a workforce survey to assist in tracking and identifying workforce gaps


What is the urgency?

The social work licensure law was passed in 2002 and has been in effect since 2004. That is a 14-year time period for State agencies to come into compliance – which is more than enough time. For comparison: When Connecticut enacted its 1995 licensure law, both private sector and public-sector agencies were given one year to comply. If we are unsuccessful, the exemption could continue, which would render the professional standards outlined by a social work license null and void. Your experience is valuable, and we need to end the exemption.


How do I get involved?

  • Watch and share the Social Work Investment Initiative 101 video to your social work friends and colleagues:
  • Visit and bookmark the #InvestinSocialWork webpage: This website contains an Social Work Investment Initiative toolkit, social media graphics, and up-to-date information and resources to assist with your advocacy
  • Save the Date: The first Social Work Investment Initiative Call-in Day takes place on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. Call your legislators and ask them to end the licensure exemption and support enactment of the Social Work Investment Initiative
  • Like, tweet, and share #InvestinSocialWork. Help us spread the word!


It’s time for the state to invest in our profession, invest in our communities, and end the exemption.

It’s time to invest in social work.




Author: NASW-NYS