Title Protection

The Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW/CT) is introducing a bill in the Legislature for Social Work Title Protection to protect vulnerable consumers from receiving sub-standard services and ensuring only professionally trained social workers can hold the title of social worker.

NASW/CT supports statutory title protection to the job title of “Social Worker” or any job title that includes the words “Social Worker” solely to professionals who hold a BSW or MSW degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program or a DSW.

Thirty-one states have title protection for the job classification of social workers, including Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, and New Jersey and several other states, including Rhode Island, are working toward such recognition.

As of this writing, the following legislators have agreed to introduce a title protection bill: Catherine Abercrombie; Rick Lopes, MSW; Cristin McCarthy Vahey, MSW; Jillian Gilchrest, MSW; Ann Hughes, LCSW; Pat Wilson Pheanious, MSW. Additional legislators may sign on to introduce a bill. By having multiple legislators submitting a bill shows widespread support for the legislation.

 WHY PROTECT THE SOCIAL WORK TITLE?

To ensure Social Workers are professionally trained and educated to work with diverse populations by attaining a degree(s) in Social Work that includes rigorous curriculum in cultural differences, ethical practice, human behavior and therapeutic treatments.

To ensure Social Workers are bound by NASW Code of Ethics, which provides ethical standards to which the public can hold the Social Worker accountable to. This is not the case for a person who is a Social worker by title only. Consumers have no protection or regulatory recourse to file a complaint against a social worker by title only.

To ensure Social Workers are held to strict confidentiality with their consumers. State law recognizes the confidentiality and privilege of social work records and communications between the social worker and the client. But such rights, which belong to the client, may not be in effect if the “social worker” is not a professional social worker. It is both an unfair burden on the client and unreasonable expectation to expect a client to know if their social worker is indeed a professional social worker.

To ensure that individuals who lose their license in another state cannot practice in Connecticut. Without title protection, anyone could be called a social worker in Connecticut. There is nothing to stop a worker who harmed a consumer in another state to repeat that offense in Connecticut.

 To ensure vulnerable consumers know they are getting exceptional social work services. Misuse of the social work title is not only a form of misrepresentation by the worker, but also the employer. Title protection would prevent employers from advertising false services.

 Other professions would not stand for the misuse of their title by a person with sub-substandard qualifications, why should Social Work be any different? In many other consumer care professions, individuals who have not attained certain formal training cannot refer to themselves as a member of such profession. Under existing state law, nursing, medicine, psychology, law, physical therapy, massage therapy, etc., all require the appropriate degree to use the title.

We will be asking our members to contact their legislators in support as the bill makes its way through the legislative process. Constituent contacts will be the key to success! For more information contact: Stephen Wanczyk-Karp, LMSW, NASW/CT, 2139 Silas Deane Hwy., Suite 205, Rocky Hill, CT 06067, (860) 257-8066 or skarp.naswct@socialworkers.org