Over the past few years NASW has had many legislative successes. These successes often translate into laws that impact the scope of social work practice in the Commonwealth. Below are links to a few of the relevant Massachusetts General Laws that were passed thanks to NASW's legislative advocacy and the work of our members. The laws below directly impact the nature of social work practice.
Massachusetts General Laws:Child Abuse and Neglect:
Signed into law July 2008, An Act Protecting Children in the Care of the Commonwealth or the "First do no Harm” law came about as a result of a report on the status of child abuse and neglect in the Commonwealth. The law put in place additional oversight to protect children in the care of the state while also reducing worker caseloads and promoting continuing education for social workers.
• Chapter 119 - Protection and Care of Children, and Proceedings Against Them
• Section 51A - Injured children, reports
• Chapter 176 of the Acts of 2008
Malpractice Tribunal, Protection From Frivolous Lawsuits:
In August 2006 NASW successfully advocated for passage of this bill, which added social workers to the categories of healthcare professionals protected from frivolous lawsuits by the malpractice tribunal.
• Chapter 231 - Pleading and Practice
• Section 60B - Malpractice actions against providers of health care; tribunal
Mental Health Parity:
In August 2008 comprehensive mental health parity legislation in MA was passed into law. The law eliminates the arbitrary distinctions of the 2000 MH Parity Act and requires coverage of additional disorders that are listed in the DC: 0-3R, DSM, and the International Code of Diseases (ICD), to the same extent as all other medical conditions, specifically: substance abuse, eating disorders, post traumatic stress disorders, and autism.
• Chapter 32A - Contributory Group General or Blanket Insurance for Persons in the Service of the Commonwealth
• Section 22. Diagnosis and treatment of certain biologically-based mental disorders; mental disorders of victims of rape; non-biologically-based mental disorders of children and adolescents under age 19; group insurance commission coverage
Employment Protection for Social Workers:
Successfully passed in August of 2008, this bill would protect social workers who wish to practice in any geographic area for any period of time after termination of a partnership, employment or professional relationship with an agency where they have been employed. Eliminating so called "restrictive covenants” on social worker employment.
• Chapter 112. Registration of Certain Professions and Occupations
• Section 134. Practice of social work by certain parties
Board of Registration of Social Workers:
For the 2009-2010 legislative session NASW has prioritized a social work professional issue that aims to change the constitution of the social work licensing board so that it more closely emulates the psychology board and works more effectively and smoothly. The legislation would add members and remove certain designations within the board. Current laws relating to the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Social Workers are available below.
• Chapter 13 - Division and Boards of Registration
• Section 80 - Membership; appointment; qualifications
• Section 81 - Term
• Section 82 - Removal of member for cause; right to hearing; vacancy
• Section 83 - Compensation
• Section 84 - Meetings; election of officers; regular and additional meetings; license; fees; powers and duties