Budget & Tax, Family & Community

Bill may tie worker license to social-justice support

February 18, 2021

Ray Carter

Preservation of a social worker’s state license may be tied in part to their efforts to “challenge social injustice” under legislation that has advanced from a state House committee.

House Bill 1835, by Rep. John Waldron, would allow the State Board of Licensed Social Workers to strip a social worker’s license for “violating ethical standards that are a consensus of the National Association of Social Workers and the School Social Work Association of America.”

In brief comments before the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, Waldron described the bill as a modernization measure.

“This is a government-efficiency bill,” said Waldron, D-Tulsa. “House Bill 1835 eliminates a duplicative process by which social workers’ certification standards are established, so it will give greater clarity to social workers. It was requested by members of the Oklahoma Association of Social Workers in my county.”

While the two codes referenced in the bill contain many standard provisions, such as barring exploitation of patients, the code of ethics for the National Association of Social Workers also declares that its ethical principles are based on core values that include “social justice.”

“Social workers challenge social injustice,” the National Association of Social Workers declares on its website.

The organization states that social workers’ “social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice,” and that those activities “seek to promote sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity.”

That group’s website also states, “Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical ability.”

In addition, that organization states that social workers “should engage in social and political action” and “advocate for changes in policy and legislation” to “promote social justice.”

There were no questions or debate on HB 1835, which passed the House Appropriations and Budget Committee on a 31-0 vote.