The Latest News
All NASW Virginia Chapter members are invited to attend a free virtual Town Hall on Advancing Racial Justice and Equality June 23 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.!
After releasing a call to action statement against racism (see below) and abusive law enforcement in early June, the chapter is taking a next step to share grief and pain about the murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd and the many other unarmed African Americans killed by police violence in the past 400 years.
The gathering also will serve as a time of deep listening by social workers who want to use white privilege to support African American social workers and clients willing to share their experiences and insights. We want to be present for the difficult emotions of a nation waking up to the ugly truth about systematic oppression and racism in modern America.
How do we acknowledge centuries-old and recent pain and trauma, and eventually use it to inform unified actions that enable all Virginia social workers to add their expertise to accelerate progress for racial justice and equality? Are we at a place yet to even begin the difficult conversations and actions needed to carry forth our own peaceful “marches” through our daily work and through NASW Virginia toward a more just society?
Please join us for this critical conversation. This is the time when chapter members need to come together to talk with candor and especially to listen.
Not an NASW member yet? Join today at www.socialworkers/membership and add your voice and passion to ours; NASW members automatically are members of their state chapters, and we would love to welcome you into our diverse social work community and to this town hall event.
2021 Annual Conference Call for Proposals is NOW OPEN!
Here’s your chance to teach! Lead! Share! Shine! NASW Virginia is calling for proposals from all social work professionals interested in presenting a session for the 2021 Annual Conference March 25-27.
During this unique national period, we each are experiencing personal and professional changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic and our nation’s urgent demand for genuine progress on racial inequities and justice. While both of these challenges are not formal conference themes per se, they are critical issues that social workers may also want to consider when drafting their proposals.
In keeping with the chapter’s tradition of responding to past attendees’ suggestions and ideas for sessions and topics, NASWVA hopes to receive proposals on such issues as practice-related and cutting-edge content such as telehealth, ethics, trauma, grief, LGBTQ issues, aging, discrimination, new methods and techniques, and social justice. In addition, the popular track on self-care will again be offered and is open to proposals.
Please note that all presenters—like the chapter—must remain nimble and flexible to adapt content and instruction format in light of potential pandemic scenarios. Thank you for your consideration--we look forward to receiving your proposals for our 2021 conference March 25-27! Deadline is September 18, 2020.
June 3, 2020 - NASW Virginia Chapter Calls for Justice, Healing, and Further Action on Racial Equality
At this painful historical time, social workers statewide strongly condemn the May 25 murder of African American George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and urge Virginia residents to unite for healing that enables collaboration and a recommitment to genuine progress toward racial equality, says the Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
Virginia is home to 1.6 million African Americans—19% of its total population and the ninth highest percentage in the country, according to the 2010 Census. Many Black residents feel disenfranchised, their cries for attention to inequities around education, housing, employment, health, and criminal justice carrying over from generation to generation without redress.
Social workers witness the short- and long-term harm and agony caused by these injustices every day in their jobs—from schools to hospitals, government agencies to private practices. As the largest behavioral health providers in the country, social workers already receive extensive diversity and inclusiveness training, follow a code of ethics and cultural values grounded in respect and tolerance, and advocate fiercely for the advancement of equality whether based in race, gender, sexual orientation, or other characteristic.
Now, others are waking up to the tremendous need to add their voices to ours. The shock of watching Mr. Floyd murdered in front of pleading bystanders and complicit peers has traumatized Americans to the point that indignation has moved into outrage and action.
We see and affirm the pain of the African American community and acknowledge four centuries of harassment, degradation, and injustices done to fellow community members due simply to skin color. The massive, largely peaceful protests show that larger society is finally demanding the end to atrocities such as police brutality against people of color. Like our NASW national leaders, we in Virginia echo the call for policing reform as a vital step toward racial unity.
A separate but related reform to diminish police violence would be adoption of a “Marcus Alert,” a de-escalation approach named for teacher Marcus David-Peters, who was fatally shot by officers in 2018 after having a mental health crisis. A Marcus Alert would require law enforcement to activate a mental health professional as a first responder with possible police backup in a situation identified as a suspected or confirmed mental health crisis. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who has advocated for a Marcus Alert system, reports that the city’s police department is already exploring how that intervention would work.
Social workers are well-educated in violence and systematic racism of all types. We as social workers stand poised to give informed input needed for deeper law enforcement training and procedural reforms. But we also support NASW’s demand that “before America can end racial disparities in use of force, there must be a change in police culture. Police departments must root out the many officers who continue to view Black lives as being less valuable than that of other Americans.”
As society comes to terms with the robust agenda needed to dislodge deeply embedded systemic racial bias, NASW Virginia pledges to step up more to do what it does best: advocate for the protection and equal human rights of our clients and the social workers who serve them. We pledge to scrutinize public policy even closer for signs of inequity in outcomes, fight effort to legitimize wrongdoing as acceptable norms, and further leverage the strengths of our members to offer solutions and insights that help Virginia and America truly become a place where “liberty and justice” is for all.
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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 https://www.dmas.virginia.gov/#/emergencywaiver.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 http://bit.ly/MedicareTeletherapyGuidance.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.