DE-PROFESSIONALIZATION OF CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKERS
In the first wave of incendiary downsizing in 2010 Broome County clinical social workers were encouraged to take a $10,000 pay cut and go work for a private non-profit agency who had just been anointed as a certified OMH outpatient clinic. Our local senator approved of this as two clinicians would also move to the state GBHC Children’s Clinic at higher pay. There was a delay in service since the building and psychiatrist were not ready. Three years later OMH proposes to close inpatient children’s services that are a critical continuum of services and waste your tax dollars spent on that refurbished building. There continue to be wait times at the other agencies. There was never a wait at the Clinic.
Clinicians were not involved in any of the planning. There was not a ‘plan on paper’, nor public hearings, nor consultant study, rather there were a lot of smoke and mirrors and vagueness. Is this the way most men seek employment? There is an underlying gender effect since most social workers are women. The new mantra is that a clinician should be able to ‘pay for their position’. Do you hear others with higher salaries being told that? Or to give up their benefits? And to have a defunk union is a worse slap in the face.
Traditionally, clinicians were forbidden to “take their clients with them” when changing jobs, but “miraculously” this is now acceptable. However, every time a clinician leaves there are a good number of clients who just stop treatment, disappear or are uninsured. Apparently the human services committee of the county was not concerned about that. Quality of care, accessibility and understanding of this vulnerable mental health population were ignored. Priorities, priorities. $$$$$ are important. Insurance companies are in control.
In Feb of 2013 deceptive Governor Cuomo supported a permanent exemption from social work licensure for the state workforce for programs regulated, operated, funded or approved by the state. This would have allowed broad sections of the workforce to be unlicensed as a concession to nonprofit agencies. The LCSW law was implemented to provide a minimum standard of competence for all mental health providers. Allowing unlicensed providers to engage in the LMSW or LCSW scopes of practice puts consumers at risk. The NYS National Association of Social Workers Chapter opposed this.
Clinical social workers are getting flogged from all angles. The ‘line worker’ is not generally familiar with OMH policy changes, except the loss of bathroom breaks. They are given simplified explanations such as CUTS, more cuts. During recent state hearings even the local agencies said they were blind sided about the Regional Centers of Excellence. State and federal legislators have been sleeping on the job. Well, there were excellent clinicians who left this malarkey and bullying.