Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Social Work
Regulations Governing the Practice of Social Work [18 VAC 140 ‑ 20]
Action Reduction in CE requirement for supervisors
Stage Fast-Track
Comment Period Ended on 7/24/2019
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7/11/19  5:38 pm
Commenter: Erin Crosby

Opposed Proposed Fast Track Changes to Supervision Regulations

I am alarmed at the Board’s proposal to weaken the training requirements for Social Work Supervisors as put forth in the action: “Reduction of CE requirement for supervisors,” and urge that it be withdrawn. Reducing the required hours, eliminating the 5 year timeframe for training prior to initial registration, and eliminating the 5 year continuing education requirement for Social Work Supervisors would undermine the quality of supervision for countless new practitioners, not only harming their professional education and robbing them of needed capability, but putting the people they serve at risk. 

Social Work is a highly dynamic field; the knowledge base of the profession is continually expanding, and the population it serves becoming more complex. Some examples of changes in the last five years alone include:

  • Greater awareness and understanding of the breadth and prominence of issues facing the LBGTQ+ community;

  • New best practices with regard to sensitivities and trauma around issues of race, gender, and sexuality, as well as the ubiquity of sexual harassment and assault;

  • Better understanding of the myriad and often hidden ways that white supremacy and white privilege impact minority populations;

  • A rise in gun ownership and gun violence, posing increased physical risk to clients (through both violence and suicide) and social workers, as well as causing increased anxiety and trauma in communities overall.

It is essential that new social workers be able bring the most current practices and insights to the challenging dynamics they face today. Their ability to navigate complex issues and mitigate harm in the midst of real-life situations depends to a large extent on the knowledge and understanding of their supervisor and the quality of guidance they receive. Without a continuing education requirement that is current, a significant subset of supervisors will fall behind the field and their outdated understandings will be carried forward by their supervisees. A likely outcome is a rise in troubled supervisor-supervisee relationships, greater incidence of poorly performing social workers, and an increase in disciplinary actions. Raising the requirement for ethics training will not be sufficient, as the changing social work landscape extends far beyond questions of ethics.

Social Work has fought long and hard for its rightful and now recognized position among other behavioral health science professions. As is stringently required in professional training for psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and social workers in jurisdictions across the country, best supervision practices and current evidence-based knowledge are requisite for competence in professional practice. There is ample, high quality and advanced supervisor training available (with new training developed as needs arise) to ensure that no supervisor need “repeat” coursework merely to meet the requirement. 

The proposed changes to the Supervisor training requirements will undermine the profession in Virginia, hurting supervisees and their clients. Please support social work in our state by withdrawing this proposal.

CommentID: 73513