Senator Elder Vogel, Jr., a Republican representing citizens from portions of Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence Counties, came to the Geneva College campus recently to listen to faculty and students express their concerns over Senate Bill 922. Professor Stephanie Schindel, along with undergraduate students Aaron Williams, Joshua Donath and Rachael Holden, made presentations to the senator outlining the opposition to the changes for the social work industry being proposed in the bill.
“Our students are very dedicated to this field and they want to be a part of the solution,” explained Schindel.
Senate Bill 922, which proposes to create practice protection for licensed social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional counselors, limits licensure to Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) graduates.
“Many academic programs other than social work could and do allow students the ability to meet current competency standards for various forms of direct practice such as case management,” argued Schindel. “These programs include, but are not limited to, majors in behavioral science, child development, counseling, human services, psychology, social welfare and sociology.”
“Currently, Senate Bill 922 has been framed as a mechanism for improving the quality of direct practice services,” said Williams. “It is our position that offering licensure exclusively to Bachelor of Social Work graduates would exacerbate the issue of high caseloads and pose an even greater risk to consumers of social welfare services during these already difficult economic times.”
Licensure is currently based on meeting competency standards, not completing a specific course of study. Donath noted, “Geneva College students have consistently demonstrated these competencies as evidence by internship evaluations by assigned supervisors in the field.”
In addition, restricting licensure to BSW graduates would have a negative effect on the communities that have the greatest need of social services, according to Holden. “By reducing the number of eligible professionals, there would be fewer workers available. Hence, there will be a decrease in services and an increase in need.”
Sen. Vogel said that it may be a long time before S.B. 922 comes out of committee, if ever. “This bill might never make it to a vote in the senate,” he said.
However, he did agree that the cause is worthwhile, and he encouraged those in attendance to contact the senators from their districts. “Obviously, you brought up some great points,” he said to the presenters. “The older population is going to be crying out for more and more social workers.”
Geneva College is a comprehensive Christian college of the arts, sciences and professional studies. Founded in the tradition of the Reformed Christian faith, Geneva prepares students to serve Christ in all areas of society: work, family and the church. Geneva College’s philosophy of education is based on the Foundational Concepts of Christian Higher Education. Geneva is a founding member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).