SB 766 Title Protection for Social Workers by Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, MSW, LCSW, PhD, passed out of the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee on a 13-0 vote! This bill simply states that a person or an employer cannot call someone a social worker unless the person has a degree in social work from an accredited school of social work.
Title Protection has been a goal of NASW-CA for a number of years, but now with more elected social work legislators, we are hopeful we can get this bill to the Governor for his signature. Unfortunately, this bill has traditionally garnered significant opposition and this year is no different. Currently the bill is opposed by the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA), SEIU union, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) and the California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (CALPCC).
Despite this opposition, SB 766 prevailed. A week before the Committee Hearing, NASW-CA Lobby Day attendees lobbied over 80 offices in support of this bill. In addition, NASW-CA’s Director of Government Relations and Senator Eggman’s MSW staff, had additional follow-up appointments with the offices of the members of the Senate Policy Committee.
The opposition made arguments such that SB 766 would worsen the workforce crisis and that people would lose or be blocked from obtaining jobs. All of these arguments did not speak to the bill. The bill only focuses on what you can call someone, not who you can hire.
Next, the bill goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee and must be passed by May 19th if we are to pass the bill this year. Since we are in the first year of a two-year session, we could potentially take two years to get this bill to the Governor.
NASW-CA remains committed to honoring the years of school and internships our members have completed to become professional social workers. We also believe consumers should know that their social worker has the education and training and grounding in our Code of Ethics to have the social work title. We will work with the opposition to clarify the intent of our bill to hopefully neutralize the opposition.
Watch this space for updates as SB 766 goes through the legislative process!