Action Alerts and Legislative Updates

SB 1482 (professions; therapy ban prohibition)

The Arizona Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-AZ) is strongly opposed to SB 1482 (professions; therapy ban prohibition). This legislation creates a gray area between what is permitted in statute and what is ethically responsible by allowing a clinician to discriminate or practice unsupported and harmful techniques against a client based on selective personal values. Additionally, this bill appears to remove the role of licensing boards in disciplining or withdrawing the license of individuals who conduct harmful, unethical and unsupported therapeutic techniques, posing the greatest risk to the public. These unethical and harmful practices might include performing techniques known to be ineffective, dangerous and not based in science, all under the umbrella of a clinician’s “conscience or religious belief”. If passed, this bill would remove fundamental protections for ethical therapeutic practice on a broad basis. 

Additionally, under the NASW Code of Ethics, social workers are already able to decline services to a client based on their competencies and training, but they cannot discriminate based on the clinician’s selective personal values or religious beliefs. No client should be subject to an unethical, unsupported or harmful treatment based solely on the provider’s personal values. Conscience bills such as SB 1482 lead to dysfunctional mental health delivery and compromise the quality of care by creating barriers to meeting the needs of the client. 

NASW-AZ strongly opposes violating the professional and ethical principles set forth by professional mental health standards and administered in alignment with the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiner’s responsibility to protect the safety and well-being of the public. Furthermore, we oppose the violation of a client’s autonomy and self-determination based on an effort to protect an individual’s “conscience or religious belief” that does not align with the social work profession’s ethical principles, standards or values. 

SB 1089:

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard SB 1089 (behavioral health professionals; unauthorized practice) on Wednesday, February 3rd. In general, NASW Arizona has been supportive of this bill as it takes necessary actions to ensure professional integrity and public safety. However, at this time NASW Arizona cannot support the amendment to A.R.S.32-3293 related to licensed clinical social workers, licensure and qualifications. 

The adopted amendment would lower the 3,200 total hours required toward clinical licensure and would only require the 1,600 of direct client contact hours within the twenty-four months following receipt of a master’s degree. The amendment still requires the 100 hours of supervision but eliminates the 1,600 indirect client service hours. This change is inconsistent with neighboring states in our region and brings our standards to one of the lowest in the nation. Additionally, we have found no research nor evidence related to professional standards for social work licensure to support this change. Moreover, we raise concerns with respect to licensure mobility and caution this may inadvertently place undue burden and barriers for social work professionals seeking licensure endorsements in other states. 

The requirements for indirect hours are reinforced by a standardized exam for clinical social worker (CSW) licensure, which the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) administers and is required in all states for social work licensure. If candidates do not practice the necessary indirect tasks required for practice, it could compromise their preparation for the exam and overall test results. Without further evidence to ensure the flexibility, mobility and professional integrity of our licensure standards, we cannot support this amendment, or this bill at this time. 

If there are issues related to understanding the requirements needed for direct and indirect hours for clinical licensure, we respectfully request data to support this and request to work directly with the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners (ABBHE) rather than requiring statutory changes. We acknowledge the need for more licensed clinical social workers in our communities across Arizona and are committed to working constructively with local partners, community leaders, the state legislature and the ABBHE to implement effective licensing policy for social work. 


Resources for Social Workers Regarding Recent Immigration Law

Many social workers are concerned about the new AZ law that requires state employees to report undocumented persons to the INS. This legal brief below is a resource compiled by the NASW Office of General Counsel and has been published as the January 2010 Legal Issue of the Month.

Social workers may have a general concept of immigration requirements, but this area of law is both complex and volatile.  U.S. laws and policies affecting the status of immigrants have evolved over time in response to various social, political and economic pressures.  More recently, in the wake of welfare reform in the 1990s, and in the post 9/11 era, U.S. immigration policy has returned to an exclusionary focus that has turned toward conflating criminality and undocumented immigration status.  Although immigration laws are within the exclusive purview of the federal government, a number of states have attempted to address concerns about violations of immigration law by residents bypassing various exclusionary measures.  This may create legal questions and ethical dilemmas for social workers who work in programs or areas serving immigrants.  When social workers are used as enforcers of exclusionary government policies to the extent of “turning in” violators, valid questions may be raised about the extent a social worker may meet both legal and ethical obligations.  This Legal Issue of the Month article reviews recent legal policy as enacted by U.S. Congress, the state of Arizona and related interpretations of the law regarding immigrants’ eligibility for public benefits, documentation and reporting requirements.

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SB 1519-Take Action

On Thursday, April 19th, the Senate Commerce & Public Safety Committee will hear SB1519:  protective orders; schools; appropriations. There is a strike everything amendment to SB1519. NASWAZ encourages you to voice your concerns using the "Request to Speak System," or by contacting the Senate Commerce & Public Safety Committee members directly.

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NASW Arizona Condemns Trump’s Charlottesville Comments in Advance of Visit to Arizona

The Arizona Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent comments by President Trump equating Neo-Nazi, white supremacists, and other hate groups with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, VA. The facts and history do not support President Trump’s statements.

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