Monday, October 25, 2010

NASW Embodies the Democratic Process

As November 2nd approaches I am reflecting not only on our Nation’s Democratic process but also the process our own Chapter uses to determine our legislative priorities.   Over the course of my tenure at NASW many people have asked how we determine the Chapter’s “Priority” Legislative and Budget Initiatives.  I thought I would share with you the very important process of making these decisions.

NASW’s Process for Selecting Priority Legislation and Budget Initiatives

  1. In September of the year preceding the start of the new legislative session, the Chapter’s Government Relations and Political Action staff polls the Chapter’s committees and the Board of Directors regarding their priority issues for the upcoming legislative session.   

  1. The Chapter’s Legislative Advocacy Committee (LAC) then reviews all suggestions and presents its recommendation for legislation and/or legislative topic areas to the Executive Director and then to the Board of Directors.

  1. The Board reviews the list and approves either all or part of the recommendation from the Legislative Advocacy Committee.

  1. Staff then compiles the final list of approved legislative priorities, identifies legislative sponsors of selected bills, and tracks these bills to determine docket/bill numbers and other coalition support.

Supporting Activities:

  • Staff or NASW member attends the bill’s hearing, testifies, and submits written testimony.  Additionally, staff works to identify members to testify and/or submit testimony at the hearing.

  • Chapter sends an email Action Alert to membership when bill’s hearing is approaching and identifies other ways to communicate with NASW members about the legislation, encouraging them to support the legislation in a variety of ways;
o       Contacting Legislators in person, by phone or email
o       Attending events that gather support for the bill

  • NASW’s support for the bill will be posted on the NASW website with a link to the Capwiz program so members can contact their rep or senator directly about the bill through the NASW MA website.
  • Staff and members participate in rallies and other public events supporting the bill.
  • Staff participates in coalitions to support the bill or budget initiative.

The Chapter’s process for identifying its legislative agenda is intentional, comprehensive and highly democratic.  We are proud of the system in place and we applaud our members for their participation!

Carol Trust

Friday, October 15, 2010


On September 28th 2010 gubernatorial candidates assembled at Faneuil Hall for the first ever debate devoted solely to human services issues. Gov. Deval Patrick, Republican Charles Baker, independent Tim Cahill and Green-Rainbow candidate Jill Stein addressed vital issues concerning 185,000 employees in the human services field and the clients they serve. Health care reform, managed care and salaries were top on the list.

One question that struck at the heart of the debate was the following:

“Human services employees are paid $12 an hour on average. Most have to work two jobs just to make ends meet. What would you do to change this?”

As expected, each candidate had varying plans to improve the current system.  However, they all agreed that human service workers are underpaid and struggling to provide invaluable services to vulnerable populations.  With that in mind, I was encouraged to learn that there was consensus against the passage of ballot Question 3, on the November ballot. This question would reduce the state sales tax from the current 6.25%  level to 3%.   

NASW is part of a state wide coalition that opposes Question #3 as well as Question #1 which will remove the current sales tax on alcoholic beverages.

Governor Deval Patrick, who NASW/MA Chapter PACE has endorsed, simply stated “There will be a time to cut back on taxes, but the time is not now.”

Please remember to VOTE on Nov. 2nd 2010.  For a full report on the MA Chapter NASW endorsed candidates, go to

Carol Trust

Monday, October 4, 2010

Section 12 UPDATE

Hello Again,
This past legislative  session, one of NASW’s priority pieces of legislation House Bill 4681, an Act to Improve Emergency Access to Mental Health Services was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Patrick.  Beginning November 3, 2010, LICSWs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will be authorized to sign a Section 12 A or temporary care paper, colloquially known as a “pink paper”. This will enable LICSW level social workers to hold or send a patient for emergency evaluation for the following reasons:

§       Suicidality - Substantial risk of physical harm to the person himself/herself as manifested by evidence of threats of, or attempts at suicide or serious bodily harm.                       
§      Homicidality - Substantial risk of physical harm to other persons as manifested by evidence of homicidal or other violent behavior or evidence that others are placed in reasonable fear of violent behavior and serious physical harm to themselves.

§       Markedly impaired judgment due to mental illness - Very substantial risk of physical impairment or injury to the person himself/herself as manifested by evidence that such person’s judgment is so affected that he/she is unable to protect himself/herself in the community and the reasonable provision of his/her protection is not available in the community.

LICSW level social workers have for years been evaluating clients for dangerousness.   They just did not have the authority to sign the paper work that would authorize the patient being transerred to a hospital emergency room for an evaluation. These same LICSWs had to run around looking for a psychiatrist or psychologist or police officer (who had never seen the client) to sign the paper to transport the individual.  House Bill 4681 aligns the law with their practice and authority.

The Chapter is in the process of developing training to help Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers make the transition to authorization.  It is important that NASW has your email address so that you will be notified of the dates of the trainings which will begin in November.  Please call  1-800-742-4089 or email .

Carol Trust