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NASW-MA Statement Regarding Ballot Question One

Monday, October 22, 2018  
Posted by: Jamie Klufts
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National Association of Social Workers – Massachusetts Chapter

Statement Regarding Ballot Question One


The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers represents social workers statewide who work in a variety of settings, with a large constituency working in healthcare, including hospitals. Our mission has always been to protect the profession of social work and advocate for policies that guarantee economic and social justice for all. It is with this lens that we thoroughly reviewed existing data and literature regarding Question 1 on the November 6, 2018, statewide ballot and possible impacts on our profession and existing workforce. After careful deliberation, NASW-MA has decided to remain neutral in regard to the proposed ballot question that would mandate nurse staffing ratios statewide.


Social workers are an integral part of the patient’s interdisciplinary team, trained to provide invaluable clinical expertise ranging from deescalating crises, keeping families updated during a traumatic incident, to providing support and resources for the bereaved. Social workers work side-by-side with nurses in psychiatric facilities destigmatizing mental illness and providing a wide array of therapeutic modalities for both patients and families. There is a real concern within the workforce that staffing could be reduced in an effort to meet these standards, impacting the effectiveness of the patient’s team. While there is language in the ballot initiative to protect ‘ancillary staff’ from layoffs, the broad definition could provide an unforeseen loophole to reduce staffing of mental health professionals.


Additionally, we are an organization that has advocated for safe staffing ratios when it comes to caseloads of social workers in child welfare, supporting the guideline of 15:1 put forth by the Child Welfare League of America. We are aware of the importance of a safe work environment and staffing ratios are part of that solution. Historically, we have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with labor unions and strongly support collective bargaining rights. We see and support nurses in their advocacy to demand a safe environment for themselves and their patients just as we did in 2013 with our Social Work Safety in the Workplace legislation.


We acknowledge the complexity and importance of this ballot initiative and therefore committed ourselves to fully examining both sides. We sought to understand this not just as a safe staffing initiative but how it could impact our profession, the role social workers play in healthcare, as well as the behavioral health system as a whole. For the reasons cited above, we are remaining neutral and encourage our members to look at the information provided to us from both the No and Yes sides as it relates to social workers in the hopes of making an informed decision.





Sophie Hansen, Political Director

617-227-9635 x112 |

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