WE DID IT KENTUCKY SOCIAL WORKERS!! We stood up and spoke out. We advocated and collaborated. We contacted our elected officials and educated them on why HB 465 was detrimental to our professional licensure and our citizens. We made our voices known, and they were heard. And our voices will continue to advocate on behalf of our social work profession. WE WILL BE THE CHANGE WE NEED IN KENTUCKY!!
This has been one helluva year to say the least, but we are ready and resilient as we continue to engage, educate, and empower our profession across our state, and most definitely in the People’s House! As one of 43 boards targeted for “restructuring” our voices echoed the dozens of other professional licensure boards who worked tirelessly to impact a positive outcome during this session. OUR HEARTFELT GRATITUDE TO EACH OF YOU for your support, calls, emails, and visits to our elected officials, engagement with additional agencies and citizens, and your trust in us as the Kentucky Chapter of NASW. Our 2018 Social Work Lobby Day rocked our Capitol with over 350 people sending messages of solidarity against HB 465. An extra special shout out to Kentucky Society for Clinical Social Work for such a wonderful collaboration of associations. And with sincere and heartfelt gratitude to Representative Susan Westrom, MSW, and Representative Jim Wayne, LCSW for their unwavering dedication and commitment to social workers and citizens across Kentucky!
Our NASW-KY Board of Directors made a critically important decision to hire a lobbyist for six months to support our efforts during this 2018 session. This was one of the best decisions our small chapter could have made and we are sincerely grateful for your trust in us to do our due diligence on behalf of you, our members! Our national office has been incredibly supportive and involved in our determination to fight this restructuring bill, especially Gary Gross from our Office of General Counsel, as he has worked closely with us on our statements and letters over the past year. If you ever wondered if membership in a professional association mattered, we hope this past year and our combined efforts of advocacy and social justice prove our commitment to our profession, and to every social worker dedicated to our profession in Kentucky! Your membership matters!!
Michael Gray is our lobbyist and we cannot thank him enough for his brilliance and grace. We asked him to write a brief statement for our members, so here are his thoughts:
The 2018 session of Kentucky’s General Assembly ended April 14. We worked very hard during the session to protect the field of social work and we can now breathe a sigh of relief. With your help, we were able to have excellent conversations with legislators and executive branch officials to communicate the value of the work that all of you are doing to serve the people of our Commonwealth. Our number one priority was to make sure that HB 465, the reorganization of 43 professional licensure boards including the Board of Social Work, did not pass in the form that it was filed, and it DID NOT PASS.
I was able to testify before a legislative committee on March 14 and explained our opposition to HB 465. The bill sponsor, Rep. Adam Koenig, invited me to provide more input on our behalf and our dialogue resulted in some changes to the bill. However, there were still additional changes needed to protect the Board of Social Work. You, our members, let your legislators know about the changes we wanted and although the bill passed the House, it never came close to passing the Senate. We are grateful to Rep. Koenig for working with us to make changes to HB 465 and indeed to all of our legislators who listened and understood our concerns!
The reorganization of boards is a priority of the state Public Protection Cabinet and we believe the bill will return in future sessions. If so, we look forward to working with our legislators to make sure it preserves the integrity of social work in Kentucky. I am committed to continuing to advocate on behalf of NASW-KY in Frankfort and with your phone calls, emails, and in-person discussions with our legislators, I will continue to fight for social workers and the people we serve.
Thank you for all the calls you made to your legislators. They listened to you and NASW-Kentucky continues to fight for you.
We must listen to Michael’s words and recognize that we both deserve to celebrate this 2018 victory, as well as prepare for another fight to protect our professional licensure if such attempts are made again to restructure our independent Board of Social Work in 2019. That said, we will now breathe, celebrate our success, and process the impact of our collective voices in the history of our state and profession. We will continue to work to heal our state as this legislative session has seen both triumphs and tragedies that will impact all of us, especially our most vulnerable citizens across Kentucky. Above all, we will forever be reminded that our profession matters, our voices matter, and what we do each and every day makes our state, and our country, a better place for all.
Here is a copy of the letter sent out today by Dr. Jay Miller to all licensed Kentucky social workers. We are incredibly proud of the commitment to excellence that our independent licensure board and staff continue to work towards for our profession, our social workers, and our public.
In peace and solidarity,
Brenda Rosen, MSW, CSW, ACHP-SW
Executive Director, NASW-KY
NASW-KY Board of Directors