Public Health Committee

Public Hearing Testimony – March 4th, 2019

Submitted by: Ashley Blanchard, MSW

Dear Senator Abrams, Representative Steinberg, and respected members of the Public Health Committee:

I am Chair of the National Association of Social Workers Connecticut Chapter’s (NASW/CT) Political Action for Candidate Election (PACE) Committee, and I urge your support and passage of H.B. 7198, An Act Concerning Social Workers.
Grounded in service, social justice, dignity/worth of the individual, the importance of relationships, integrity and competence1, social work is an immensely complex profession ranging from providing family psychoanalysis to political campaigning. Social work has been lauded as perhaps the “most misunderstood profession on the planet” 2 and for over 100 years has cemented its place as a staple of American professions. Why then do we not have title protection in Connecticut?
Title protection for social workers, such as it is for:
 Chiropractors
 Dentists
 Occupational therapists
 Practical nurses
 Psychologists
 Veterinarians
and other professions prohibits use of title if one has not earned a degree in that profession from an accredited university. With this in mind, I ask members of the Public Health Committee:
 If people cannot call themselves a psychologist until earning a degree in the profession, why do we let others use the title of social worker who have never studied such?
 How would one feel if you hired a veterinarian to heal your injured pet, only to find out they are not actually a veterinarian? If we would not allow that in a profession for treating animals, why do we in a profession that treats humans?

H.B. 7198 ultimately, along with 38 other U.S. states, requires that the job title of “Social Worker” or any job title that includes the words “Social Worker” is limited solely to professionals who hold a BSW or MSW degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program, or a DSW/Ph.D. in social work. This bill will not cause workers who use the title of social work, but are not actually social workers, to lose their job and is not aimed at such. This bill does not restrict persons without a social work degree from performing social service tasks as long as they do not identify themselves as or use the title of social worker. There are many other titles that employers can use, including social service
worker, case manager, human services worker, caseworker, etc. This bill simply says that if you are using the title social worker, you must hold a degree in social work.

H.B. 7198 however, needs language revision. As written, this bill only applies to licensed social workers and prohibits non-licensed social workers, including BSWs, from using the title Social Worker. NASW/CT has testified against such restrictive language in the past and has submitted substitute language for H.B. 7198. Passing this bill as currently written is far too constrictive. Technical revisions should be accepted with NASW/CT’s substitute language.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, social work is expected to grow 19% by 2022 and is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States3. Social work title protection is needed now, for the profession itself and all people whom we serve and/or treat in Connecticut.
As the Chair of NASW/CT PACE and a concerned social worker, I urge you to revise language, support, and pass H.B. 7198.

Please reach out to me with any questions or comments you may have.
Ashley R. Blanchard, MSW
East Haven, CT

1 (2019). NASW Code of Ethics.
2 Cambron, S. (2019). Social Work May Be the Most Misunderstood Profession on the Planet. Courier Journal.

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