Visit for curated pandemic news for Virginia social workers.

Urge Your Legislators to Vote Yes on Mental Health Provisions in HEROES Act!

Contact your legislators today to voice support for mental health funding and resources! On May 14, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800) was delivered for consideration by the full U.S. House of Representatives. The bill supports mental health by


  • Providing emergency funding to maintain state and local mental health services

  • Allocating $100 billion in emergency funding for health care providers, including mental health providers

  • Establishing 9-8-8 as the nation’s three-digit hotline for effective mental health crisis care and suicide prevention

  • Providing Medicaid coverage for eligible people leaving the criminal justice system, and

  • Ensuring safe housing for people with mental illness via investments in emergency rental assistance and assistance to homeowners and people experiencing homelessness.

The House could vote as early as Friday, May 16 on this legislation, so act fast to tell legislators to vote YES!

ARTS and DMAS Guidance Available on Business Re-opening 


Governor Ralph Northam has announced a “Blueprint for Easing Public Health Restrictions” starting Friday, May 15, 2020. While Behavioral Health and Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services (ARTS) and the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) understand that some providers may be eager to resume more face-to-face services, they are reminding everyone that the provider flexibilities, allowances, directives, and limitations related to delivery of behavioral health and ARTS services extend throughout the declared public emergency in Virginia until otherwise formally notified.  


Health providers and stakeholders are invited to sign up for automatic notifications of business re-opening guidance from ARTS and DMAS.

To access archived ARTS’ COVID-19 guidance, directives, recordings, webinars, and FAQs effective until the state emergency ends or otherwise notified, visit

Richmond Newspaper Publishes NASW Virginia Op-Ed on Social Workers as Pandemic Heroes


The Richmond Times Dispatch has published “Unrecognized Heroes Adapt Mental Health Services in a COVID-19 Era,” an op-ed by NASW Virginia Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE, about social workers as “invisible” essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The May 4, 2020, article describes what social workers do and how some are adapting in a COVID-19 era. It also calls for more workplace safety measures, including adequate personal protection equipment and legal enforcement against employers who retaliate against social workers for raising safety concerns in the execution of their daily duties. 


The chapter continues to reach out to media outlets to build awareness about the social work profession and its contributions as behavioral health experts both in general and during the pandemic.


The full text of the op-ed can be read here.

NASW Victory! CMS Approves Medicare Reimbursement for Audio-only Device Delivery of Mental Health Services by Social Workers


A strong advocacy campaign led by the National Association of Social Workers and its chapters has resulted in victory with the May 1 announcement by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that it will permit clinical social workers to receive Medicare reimbursement for psychotherapy services provided via audio-only devices such as landlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.


CMS made the rule adjustment, along with other temporary waivers and changes, to increase access to healthcare and mental health services for the millions of older adults who currently cannot safely receive services in person. The agency had previously enabled greater deployment of telehealth by allowing healthcare providers such as clinical social workers to use smartphones with video chat apps to provide services in addition to pre-pandemic-approved video conferencing platforms.


“This CMS change will directly assist thousands of Medicare beneficiaries in Virginia, especially those living in rural areas or with low incomes who may not have smartphones or reliable internet access,” says NASW Virginia Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE. “Audio-only capability for delivering mental health services adds another valuable telecommunications tool that clinical social workers can use to better serve diverse populations such as older adults and people living with disabilities.”  

A Special Thank-you to Social Workers Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic


Virginia social workers continue to rely on their training, professionalism, and experience as they adapt their daily duties to troubleshoot issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Rarely have social workers been so needed by their clients and organizations, whether schools or hospitals, private businesses or government agencies.


Because they are integrated into nearly every element of society, social workers are leading calmly and competently to help ensure children are safe, families receive needed services, and individuals are supported.


The work is stressful and exhausting at the best of times, but never more so than during an international public health crisis. However, social workers are—as always—resourceful, creative, and committed. They continue to develop special resources, master new communication tools, shift to a telehealth business format, and more. Especially moving is their consistent rallying of each other as they offer optimistic and empathetic phone calls, emails, and texts. This is when the strength and diversity of Virginia’s social work community counts most. This is when NASW Virginia is needed most.  


We thank you! Please turn to us for support and help during this difficult period!

  • Bookmark the chapter’s COVID-19 web section and check it often for news curated just for Virginia’s thousands of social workers.

  • Scan the revised NASW Virginia Calendar of Events and consider earning your required CEUs virtually by registering for the many workshops and courses that have moved online for safe, easy access from your home.

  • Share Your Story! NASW Virginia is collecting stories of how COVID-19 is affecting the daily lives and workloads of social workers around Virginia. Please email to share how the pandemic has changed your organization, personal activities, and experiences.


These stories will be shared as part of the NASW Virginia COVID-19 website and publicized to build awareness of what social workers do and, from a peer-to-peer standpoint, how they are adapting in this disruptive but temporary period. Read the first story of two NASWVA members—2020 Social Worker of the Year recipient David Lewis and Central Virginia social work leader Heather Stone—here.

NASW Calls for Greater COVID-19 Protections for Social Workers 


NASW has asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to remind employers that retaliation is illegal against social workers and other healthcare employees who raise legitimate concerns about their personal safety while caring for patients with COVID-19. NASW urges any social workers experiencing acts of retaliation on the job are urged to file a whistleblower complaint online with OSHA or call 1-800-321-OSHA.

The organization also announce March 19 that it continues to vigorously advocate to Congress and the White House for social workers and other healthcare workers to have much greater access to optimal personal protective equipment, and for the federal government to invoke a wartime production law to require mass-production of PPE and other critical medical supplies. For more information on both stories, visit the NASW Virginia COVID-19 site

2020 NASW Virginia Virtual Annual Conference a Success


Hundreds of social workers from diverse specialties united virtually for three days of top-quality professional development, online fellowship, and an Exhibit Fair during the NASW Virginia Annual Conference March 26-28, 2020. Attendees engaged in nearly 30 sessions focused on professional practice, social justice, and self-care.

The conference, which moved to a virtual platform due to the COVID-19 pandemic, featured keynotes from Free Hugs Project Founder Ken Nwadike, Jr.; minister and performing artist Katherine Silvan; social justice activist Rachel Marco Havens, and digital addiction researcher and author Pete Dunlap.

Special thanks to the exhibitors and sponsors who participated in the conference virtual Exhibit Fair with 30 booths, which is open to all social workers until midnight April 22 via this LINK.   


Our attendees enjoyed the event, speakers, and sessions, sharing with us:


It was lovely, and just wonderful. Great effort to pull this off so fast and with such ingenuity! Thank you so much for quickly moving to a virtual conference. This pandemic has been stressful on a personal and professional level, so being able to complete my CEUs as planned went a long way toward decreasing that stress. Thank you to all that made this possible!

Wonderful accomplishment to pull off a successful and useful virtual conference on such short notice!  I am so appreciative and proud of our chapter leadership and workers!  Thank you! I especially appreciated the perspective and values and expertise Katherine Silvan and others brought.


In all honesty, this year’s conference was one of the best I’ve experienced in nearly 40 years of being a clinician social worker.  The quality of the presenters and range of content.  You and your committee knocked it out of the park.

Save the date for the 2021 NASW Virginia Annual Conference, which will be held March 25-27 at Williamsburg Lodge!

NASW Virginia Announces Five 2020 Annual Award Recipients in Social Work


Congratulations to the five remarkable social workers chosen to receive 2020 NASW Virginia Annual Awards:

Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Award: Dr. William “Bill” Spitzer, DCSW/ACSW


Social Worker of the Year: Dave Lewis, LCSW


Public Citizen of the Year: Suzie Bartel, Ryan Bartel Foundation


MSW (Master’s of Social Work) Student of the Year: John Gyourko


BSW (Bachelor’s of Social Work) Student of the Year: Emily Knowles


“The chapter’s annual awards recognize select social workers for professional excellence and outstanding achievement,” says NASW Virginia Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE. “While always difficult to choose, this year’s recipients truly represent the powerful, often behind-the-scenes impacts social workers have on their clients and community. Congratulations to them all!”

Pictured L to R: Emily Knowles, BSW Student of the Year; John Gyourko, MSW Student of the Year; Dave Lewis, Social Worker of the Year;

Dr. Bill Spitzer, Lifetime Achievement Award; and Suzie Bartel, Public Citizen of the Year

NASW Virginia Training Opportunities


The many unknowns related to the pandemic mean specifics around locations and formats of NASW Virginia trainings are ever-changing. Please check the Calendar of Events for the latest information and email before registering for a course or workshop. Whenever possible, we will offer either virtual formats or webinars until told that in-person meetings are safe. Your health and safety remain a priority for us. Thank you for your understanding and patience under these extraordinary circumstances.  

NASWVA Advocacy Update


CMS Issues Teletherapy Guidance for Clinical Social Workers with Medicare Clients


Under pressure from NASW and other medical societies, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance late today allowing telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries--a victory for NASW and other advocates who have been pushing for the move in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinical social workers now can provide teletherapy to beneficiaries if a new or existing client is in their home. There will be no audits to determine prior relationship. Telephone/audio-only is not reimbursable; CSWs must use a videoconferencing platform, which should be easier since HIPAA requirements are also eased. For full details, visit

Chapter Victory! Governor Signs “Conversion Therapy” Ban  

On March 3, Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law chapter-supported legislation that bans “conversion therapy” of children, marking a victorious end to NASWVA’s longtime efforts to stop the widely discredited psychotherapy practice. Conversion therapy claims to alter or repress an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The NASW Virginia Chapter has worked hard to protect the rights and welfare of LGBTQ children and adults,” says Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE, “The use of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in Virginia was an appalling and misleading practice that was not evidence-based. Thank you to all members who sent letters, made phone calls, and participated in the chapter’s Lobby Day to ensure this issue stayed on the front burner of state lawmakers.”


For background, read the NASW position statement.

Chapter Victory! Virginia Workforce Study Moves Ahead

The Virginia Chapter of NASW has successfully co-led legislative efforts to advance a study that would gather critical data about the state’s social work workforce, ranging from salary information to licensing to workforce development. The bipartisan joint resolution was unanimously reported out of the House to the Senate (SJ49) January 24 for further consideration.


The chapter and its allies, including leaders of the Association of Black Social Workers Richmond Chapter and several universities, are grateful to bill sponsor Sen. Jennifer McLellan (Richmond, second from left) for her hard work to support this unprecedented study.


"Special thanks goes to Dr. Angela Henderson (fourth from right) for jumpstarting and co-organizing these collaborative efforts, as well as for her commitment to the chapter and the profession," says NASWVA Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE (bottom left). "We also appreciate the efforts of Abigail Philips, chief of staff to Sen. McClellan (third from left). We look forward to working with the Senate to bring this resolution to full fruition soon."


Please email Debra Riggs at if you want to support this legislative effort. Follow the chapter on Facebook (@NASWVA) for the latest legislative and regulatory progress in this fast-paced General Assembly. 

CEU Requirement Deadlines Extended One Year

The Virginia Board of Social Work has extended the deadline for LCSWs to complete their 30 hours for this cycle by a year (until June 30, 2021), unless you are newly licensed and not required to complete continuing education requirements this year. However, this does not change the next two-year cycle—LCSWs must also complete an additional 30 hours by June 30, 2022.


Each LBSW or LMSW will have until June 30, 2021, to complete the required 15 hours of CE. Every LCSW is still required to complete the required 30 hours of CE for the June 30, 2022, renewal, and each LBSW and LMSW is still required to complete the 15 hours of CE by the June 30, 2022, renewal, as well. The extension does not apply to those individuals who must complete CEs as part of a Board order. If you have questions, please contact your compliance manager. 


Look online at our CE Institute for many training courses and/or at the chapter’s Calendar of Events. Local training will be scheduled continuously. Our 2020 conference  also offers numerous opportunities for ethics contact hours.

Virginia Chapter - National Association of Social Workers

NASW Virginia Chapter (NASWVA) is the top provider of social work professional development in the Commonwealth, as well as a nonprofit association that advocates for professional practices and social justice  in the interest of thousands of social workers and their clients.


The chapter operates as the statewide arm of the National Association of Social Workers, which also offers events and education to enhance the skills and knowledge of its members, creates professional standards, and to advances sound social policies. All members must first join NASW to automatically become members of the NASW Virginia Chapter.

What does NASWVA do? 

  • Promotes the core value of belief in the inherent worth and dignity of each individual.

  • Endorses and advances a professional social work identity and presence.

  • Connects, educates, and defines standards that enhance and guide professional practice.

  • Assesses and addresses current trends and issues relevant to and affecting the profession.

  • Advocates and supports public policies and legislative efforts to further the profession of social work and embrace the diversity of human need.


Founded in 1955, the National Association of Social Workers is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world, with more than 120,000 members.

contact us

National Association of Social Workers - Virginia Chapter

4860 Cox Road, Suite 200 Glen Allen, VA 23060