Legislative Agenda

We work with our Social Policy Action Network (SPAN) committee, coalition partners and members to advocate for legislation which aligns with our agenda and professional values and ethics. We communicate with our members about policy issues and organize Social Work Day at the Capitol to engage social work students and professionals in advocacy.

Background

The National Association of Social Workers - Minnesota Chapter (NASW-MN) works with coalition partners and members to advocate for legislation that aligns with our professional values and ethics. While we include a list of policy positions that is meant to be comprehensive, we name specific priorities for the 2023 legislative session. 

Racial equity and intersectionality are key principles across all of the issue areas and policies in this legislative agenda. These principles seek to reduce barriers and change structures, policies, and practices in our agencies and systems that sustain the ongoing harm from the legacies of slavery, colonialism, genocide, segregation, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and other systems of oppression. We support equitable, intersectional solutions to benefit the well-being of all, and will integrate these frameworks into our routine decision-making processes as we work toward change.


Legislative Priorities 2024


Elevate and diversify the social work profession:

  • Pass the social work interstate licensure compact.
  • Develop multiple pathways for social work licensing to ensure broader representation in the profession, including eliminating exam requirements for non-clinical licenses (LSW, LGSW, LISW), and expanding the provisional pathway for those pursuing a clinical license (LICSW).
  • Expand title protection to include county social workers to ensure only those with a social work degree can be called a social worker when employed by the county.
  • Ensure social work services are reimbursed at similar rates to other professionals.
    • Monitor implementation of legislation allowing school districts to access federal Medical
      Assistance for social work mental health services.*
  • Promote fair and equitable compensation for social work professionals.
    • Increase the mental health service rates.
  • Pursue opportunities to make social work education more affordable and accessible:
    • Expand funding eligibility for the mental health provider supervision grant program to include rural areas.**
    • Create and fund paid field practicums (internships) for social work programs.
    • Increase funding for the mental health professional loan forgiveness program.**

Implement child welfare policies that prioritize permanency options with parents or other family members:

  • Allow counties to implement a community-based response to educational neglect cases.***
  • Support relatives seeking custody with prior termination of parental rights on record by reducing the twenty year ban to five years.***

Enact Disability Wage Justice Policies:

  • Phase out 14(c), subminimum wage, segregated employment, and other employment-related
    policies that discriminate against people with disabilities.^^

Reimagine Community Safety:

  • Create supportive non-police response services to respond to non-violent crisis situations, including transparency on qualifications of embedded social workers and ensure title protection for county social workers in public safety settings.
  • Improve law enforcement response to mental health crises.
  • Support adequate funding for crime victim services.^

Improve and increase housing stability in Minnesota:

  • Support an amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution to dedicate sustainable, predictable, and ongoing funding to real solutions to our housing crisis.##
  • Amend the Minnesota Human Rights Act to clarify that housing discrimination based on a person’s source of income is illegal.#

Position Statements

Professional Regulation & Development

NASW-MN believes social workers are essential to the well-being of communities across Minnesota. We advocate for laws and regulations that enhance and preserve the public and private practice of social work; protect clients and assure the highest quality of care; and create equity and transparency under the law for both consumers and practitioners. We support:

  • The establishment and maintenance of standards of professional social work practice and active participation in state programs for the licensing of social workers. We provide guidance to the state to improve the consistency, transparency, and integrity of these laws and regulations, and work to ensure policies governing the practice of social work in our state are responsive to emerging needs and practice trends.
  • The recruitment, development, and retention of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color social workers through efforts such as paid internships, loan forgiveness programs, support to become supervisors, access to supervision, and culturally relevant licensing practices.
  • Developing multiple pathways for social work licensing to ensure broader representation in the profession because we recognize the demonstrated bias in licensing exams.
  • Affordable and accessible social work education opportunities, including access to paid field practicums (internships).
  • The recruitment and development of a racially and culturally representative child welfare/social services workforce.
  • Closing loopholes that allow services to create new job titles with similar expectations as social workers, working around licensing laws and specifically, eliminating the county exemption from the social work licensing law.
  • Ensuring congruence in mental health laws so that social workers are recognized as mental health providers consistently in state statutes.
  • Fair and equitable compensation for social work professionals to ensure that clients have access to appropriate services, including mental health services provided by licensed clinical social workers.
  • Increased funding for publicly funded social work positions, supporting fair pay and new positions.
  • Health professional services programs to support social workers who are struggling with their own mental/chemical health issues that use practices and policies that align with social work values and current best practices.

Civil Rights

NASW-MN advocates for enacting policies that recognize, support, and protect the civil rights of all people. We support:

  • Opposition to public policies that discriminate against people by race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, ability, or other protected status.
  • Full access to participate in our democracy, and ensure census participation for historically underrepresented groups.
  • Upon release into the community, individuals with a past felony will have access to secure and affordable housing, and secure work that provides a living wage.
  • Equitable policy that does not discriminate against status as a citizen, refugee, or documented/undocumented immigrant.

Health & Mental Health

NASW-MN believes our community is best served by a whole-person approach to health that includes physical, mental, and social aspects of health. Substantial local, state, federal, and private investment into the integration of physical and mental health services is needed to address historical disparities and the chronic complex health issues we face in our modern times. We advocate for the integrity of a person’s body as central to civil rights, the ability to access quality health care as a social right, and the ability to access quality mental health care as a social right. We support:

  • Health, dental, and vision coverage that is universal, affordable, accessible and comprehensive.
  • Expanding public health and preventative services at all levels of government.
  • Full parity within the health care system for mental health, behavioral health, and substance use disorder treatment for services delivered in-person or via telehealth.
  • Ensuring adequate funding and access for mental health services, specifically in the areas of K-12 and higher education.
  • Statewide intervention to address treatment options for opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders, including expanding the use of alternative pain management treatment.
  • Protecting the right to choose abortion without medically unnecessary restrictions and the right to access reproductive care.
  • The ability for transgender individuals to receive puberty blockers, hormones, and access gender-affirming surgery.
  • Strategies and additional funding to help implement all-inclusive care for the elderly community based programs.
  • Legislation allowing adults who have decision-making capacity, are diagnosed with a terminal illness, and are in the final stages of their disease progression to request a prescription medication from their medical provider to bring about a peaceful death. We support including safeguards to prevent abuse of this process.
  • Access to affordable, professional peer specialist services (mental health, substance use, veterans, families, forensics) as an effective, evidence-based practice when used in adjunct with more traditional mental health treatment services and support.
  • Legislation that supports expansion of early intervention for youth and young adult mental health; for example, First Episode programs.

Housing

NASW-MN values safe, affordable, and accessible housing for all people as a basic human right. Housing should be offered within individuals’ communities of choice. We envision eliminating systemic barriers so people experiencing homelessness have immediate access to permanent housing with ongoing supportive services in place. We believe emergency shelter saves lives, and ending homelessness requires long-term housing options. We support:

  • Policies and funding that ensure Minnesota households do not spend more than 30% of their monthly income on permanent housing.
  • Policies prohibiting source of income discrimination so that individuals and families with rental assistance have access to housing on the same basis as those without public housing assistance.
  • Ending the racial homeownership gap and racial disparities that exist in housing access.
  • Investment in the habitability of existing affordable housing, and increasing the availability of affordable and accessible housing.
  • Making housing truly accessible by creating a shared definition of accessible housing to provide clarity for developers, builders, and people with disabilities.
  • Investment in person-centered emergency shelters to meet the demand for beds and supportive services.
  • Funding that is flexible, sustainable, predictable, and ongoing to support homeownership opportunities, rental opportunities, and household and community stability.
  • Policies that support trauma-informed shelter services.

Child Welfare & Family Services

NASW-MN advocates for policies which support every child growing up in a nurturing and safe environment. We oppose the system of racialized and ableist surveillance, separation, and punishment and instead, advocate for trauma-responsive policies that foster participation, restoration, safety, and resilience. Transforming current practices is necessary to prevent harm within families and recurrent trauma in foster care. We support:

  • A child welfare system that uses trauma responsive care that includes intensive staff training.
  • Culturally responsive support.
  • Policies and programs that address social and economic root causes of neglect.
  • Early childhood investment and affordable childcare options.
  • Supporting parents from a relational strengths-based perspective, including structures that support their fair participation in the child welfare system.
  • Child welfare policies that prioritize permanency options with parents or other family members.
  • Public policy to end racial disparities within the child welfare system.
  • Legislation to support and expand positive mental health for students in K-12 schools as well as in higher education institutions.

Reimagining Community Safety

NASW-MN acknowledges the social work profession’s role in upholding oppressive criminal justice and government systems, and we recognize our individual and collective power to reimagine and transform society to become racially just. We recognize that racism threatens the health and safety of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in both urban and rural communities. Reimagining community safety involves radical creativity, community-specific solutions, and courageous action. We support:

  • BIPOC coalitions’ leadership in creating and sustaining policies that impact their communities.
  • Creating supportive non-police response services to respond to non-violent crisis situations.
  • Community-led reallocation of funds from police budgets to create and fund community responses to behavioral and physical health, domestic violence, human trafficking, housing insecurities, food deserts, unemployment, and other community needs.
  • Establishing and funding self-sustaining community networks.
  • Communities of color and their pursuit for justice and accountability when harmed by police.
  • Increasing police accountability for actions while on duty.
  • Policies that promote and support the safety and wellness of all parties involved in incidents leading to and following a 911 call.
  • Monitoring successful implementation of universal background checks for gun purchases and/or transfers and Extreme Risk Protection Orders.
  • Monitoring successful implementation of the legalization and regulation of recreational cannabis, including the release of all non-violent, low level possession offenders and the expungement of their past criminal records relating to low-level cannabis possession.
  • Policies that address the economic harms created by discriminatory criminalization.
  • Policies that decriminalize undocumented immigrants.

Environmental Justice

NASW-MN advocates for environmental justice. We value sustainable decisions that allow all people to hold confidence that their community and natural environment is safe and productive. We support:

  • Delivery of clean drinking water to all Minnesota residents.
  • Ending inconsistent or unregulated policies that result in higher pollution levels in low income communities.
  • Prioritizing clean energy transit routes and clean energy buses, including school buses, especially those serving low-income neighborhoods.
  • Protecting sovereign rights and native lands.

Fiscal Policy, Tax, and Economic Security

NASW-MN advocates for fiscal policy that promotes a public budget derived from progressive tax collection and just government spending. A democracy can only function if the benefits and burdens of society are equitably distributed. In a democracy, all people deserve state support to avoid poverty and to obtain living wage work. We support:

  • Sufficient revenue to pay for basic human services.
  • Solutions to the State of Minnesota budget challenges that do not focus merely on funding cuts and deferring responsibilities to the counties, cities, and other local entities.
  • Tax credits and other tax policies that support low income families and are based on a progressive system.
  • An adequately resourced safety net that includes ongoing cost of living adjustments to meet needs in a changing economy.
  • Universal basic income and access to employment through both job training and retraining.
  • Phasing out 14(c), subminimum wage, segregated employment, and other employment-related policies that discriminate against people with disabilities. This will help advance equity, drive social change, and truly protect human rights.
  • Safe, affordable, and accessible housing, including prevention of homelessness.
  • Food security.
  • Investments in families to move out of poverty and achieve economic self-sufficiency that does not discriminate against status as a citizen, refugee, or documented/undocumented immigrant.

*Based on Legislative Agenda of MN School Social Work Association
**Based on the Legislative Agenda of the Mental Health Legislative Network
***Based on the Legislative Agenda of the Institute to Transform Child Protection
^^Based on the Legislative Agenda of the Minnesota Coalition for Disability Wage Justice
^Based on the Legislative Agenda of Violence Free Minnesota
#Based on the Legislative Agenda of Minnesota Housing Partnership
##Based on the Legislation Agenda of the Our Future Starts With Home Coalition