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Advocacy | Policy & Political Action

NASW Arkansas is guided by the policy statements that appear in Social Work Speaks 12th Ed. in its advocacy efforts and will support and promote the following for its 2023 Priority Issues.

Social Work Licensing

NASW Arkansas opposes the consolidation of the professional regulatory boards listed in HB 1359. If enacted, this would eliminate the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board (“ASWLB”) and place it under a new board regulating 16 different health professions in similar fields. The legislation threatens public health by weakening regulatory oversight and provides no financial benefits. 

Action Steps

  1. Contact your State Representative and urge them to oppose HB 1359.
  2. Contact members of the Arkansas House State Agencies & Governmental Affairs Committee.
  3. Write letters to the editor of your local paper.
  4. Write Op-Ed articles for your local paper.

Talking Points


  • This bill does not provide solutions to Arkansas’s “numerous challenges associated with mental illness among its population.”
  • The promise asserted in this bill that the consolidation of these boards will improve efficiencies and save essential state funds is unsupported by any fiscal details. We question the mere assertion that there will be substantial savings. The Boards are self-sufficient through license fees and NO TAX PAYER DOLLARS are saved through consolidation. 
  • What will happen to the timeliness of decisions on licensing applications and scope of practice issues? If the newly proposed board is unable to process license applications in as timely of a way that it currently does, it will have a negative impact on the workforce and economy as it delays social workers from starting jobs. 
  • The Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board (“ASWLB”) already provides a high-quality, lean governmental response and applies solid business practices to meet the needs of consumers. This effort to consolidation will have a disproportionate and negative impact on social workers at a time in our state and nation that our social workers of all license categories are desperately needed.


  • The number of representatives for each profession to sit on the proposed board in HB 1359 is imbalanced. This bill proposes a board that comprises:
    • six (6) counselors;
    • four (4) social workers;
    • four (4) psychologists; and
    • two (2) alcoholism and drug abuse counselors.
  • Licensed counselors and licensed social workers each have around 4,000 licensees, or 40% each of the licensees regulated by the newly proposed board. Licensed counselors should NOT have more representatives on the newly proposed board than should social workers
  • A quorum for the newly proposed board consists of nine (9) members. In this regard, Counselors make up 67% of the quorum, which is unfair to the other professions represented.


  • While the professions mentioned in HB 1359 may work within the same area of mental health, they have distinct professions with separate training programs, separate curriculum, separate ethics codes and various scopes of practice. 
  • Social workers practice in areas beyond that of mental health. There are more clinically trained social workers nationally – over 200,000 – than psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurses combined. Social workers can be found in health care leadership, hospitals, mental health clinics, senior centers, elected office, private practices, child welfare, prisons, military, courts, corporations, in numerous public and private agencies, and many other settings. 
  • Competency standards differ among these professions and consolidation could weaken standards and harm mental health consumers and the general public. These differences require the oversight and administration of an independent board aimed solely at regulating the profession. There is not language in HB 1359 that prohibits these professions from setting standards for each other. These distinct professions need assurance that their rules are being reviewed by a group with first-hand knowledge of the profession. 


  • The legislation threatens public health by weakening regulatory oversight and therefore weakening the mission of the ASWLB to protect the public. Under the proposal, non-social workers who do not understand the complexity of our practice could make decisions about ethical codes of conduct and disciplinary action.

In terms of ASWLB’s efficiency, there is not a backlog of applicants waiting for licenses to be issued. Renewals do not have to go before the board and reciprocity can be granted in a matter of days if all materials have been submitted. Phone calls are answered and emails responded to in a timely manner. License verification requests are completed either within the same day they are received, or by no later than the end of the next business day. We question whether the proposed consolidation will translate in the sought-after fiscal and process efficiencies.

If the legislator has further questions, you can direct them to contact NASW Arkansas at or visit the website

Contact Information

Contact Your Own Legislators

Be sure to mention you are a constituent when you contact them.

Contact the Leadership

  • Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders – (501) 682-2345
  • Matthew Shepard, House Speaker – (870) 862-2087
  • Bart Hester, Senate President – (479) 531-4176

LGBTQ+ Rights/Equity


  • NASW opposes HB1156 as a bill that would require students in public schools to use bathrooms or locker rooms based on their assigned sex at birth.



  • NASW supports HB1161 as a bill that would support pregnant and parenting students by allowing for related excused absences and by giving pregnant and parenting students flexibility for completing missed school work.


  • NASW supports SB68 as a bill that would educate students about the significance and history of the Holocaust, would designate the last full week of classes in January in Arkansas public schools as “Holocaust Education Week.”


Health/Health Equity

  • Protecting Reproductive Health Rights
    • Protecting Affordable Care Act
    • Expanding services for pregnant and postpartum/maternal child health


  • NASW supports HB1010 as a bill would that would provide mothers on Medicaid with coverage for 12 months after giving birth, without interruption.


  • NASW supports HB1035 as a bill would that would require that insurance providers and Medicaid coverage to cover depression screening for all mothers at the time of birth. 

Economic Security/Housing

  • Student Loan reduction/relief
  • Wage and Labor protections
  • Paid Family Leave
  • Food Disparity
  • Eviction Protections/Preventions – Arkansas is the only state in the country without tenant protections
    • Tenant Protections
    • Transitional housing for men and women leaving institutions
    • Service of Homeless population

Criminal Justice

  • Gun Restrictions
  • Funding Social Workers in lieu of police/SROs in schools
    • Abolishing school-to-prison pipeline
    • Increase school funding
  • Eliminating bail/Ending cash bail
  • Social Work and Policing
    • Integrating Social Workers into emergency response issue, triage 911 calls
    • Decrease reliance on police for mental health crises situations, utilize social workers
    • CAHOOTS (Eugene, Oregon), NPR-CAHOOTS Interview
    • Increase public education on services available for mental health crises situations/decrease 911 response

Professional Practice

  • Protecting the Ethics of the Social Work Profession
  • Diversifying the social work profession
  • CEU requirements for anti-racism, diversity, equity, inclusion
  • Alternatives for licensing exam to make more equitable for English as a Second Language (“ESL”) & BIPOC applicants
  • Licensing Reciprocity
    • Multi-state partnerships / Interstate Licensure Compacts
    • National Standard/Licensure Portability
  • Telehealth reimbursements/Telehealth in rural communities
    • Audio only in tele-health to be covered by Medicaid
    • Ensuring access to equipment needed by those in rural areas or are socioeconomically disadvantaged (e.g., broadband connections, computers, etc.)

Voting Rights

  • Voter Suppression/Voting Protections
    • Free and fair elections
    • Universal voter registration
    • Same day registration
  • Voter Participation
    • Addressing engagement barriers (lack of voting sites, inadequate equipment)

Environmental Justice

  • Increasing reliance on renewable energy and decreasing carbon emissions and fracking
  • Addressing the links between environment quality and social justice
    • Racial, ethnic, and geographical disparities in exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals
  • Equality in widespread protections from pollution and toxic chemicals

Lobby Day 2023

The Arkansas General Assembly The General Assembly convenes on the second Monday in January in odd years. A session lasts for 60 days unless the legislature votes to extend it. The Governor of Arkansas can issue a “call” for a special session during the interims between regular sessions. The General Assembly meets at the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock.

The NASW Arkansas Advocacy Committee, with approval by the board of directors, is charged with setting the chapter’s legislative agenda and selecting the date for Lobby Day. Online registration is made available in January and publicized to the NASW Arkansas membership and accredited schools of social work in Arkansas. This year’s Lobby Day will take place on Thursday, February 16th, 2023.

The NASW Arkansas Chapters follows the inclement weather policy of the Little Rock School District (LRSD). If LRSD closes for inclement weather, Lobby Day will be rescheduled to a more suitable time, if possible.  



What is Social Work Lobby Day?

Lobby Day is a chance for social workers, students and professors to advocate for the social work profession at the Arkansas General Assembly.  Lobby Day gives you the opportunity to tour the General Assembly, attend legislative meetings, and interact with social workers from across the state.

NASW Arkansas Lobby Days are held in ‘odd number years’ (2019, 2021…) due to the General Assembly’s schedule. During even years, legislators do not have full session.

We are always happy to speak with students about advocacy throughout the year. If you are interested or have more questions, please contact Holly Barron at

Tips on advocating:

How Endorsements Are Made

The goal of our endorsement is to help elect candidates who support NASW policy positions and increase visibility for NASW in the process. We believe that when campaigns run with courage and conviction on issues that align with social work values, the community and social workers win. Our goal is to improve connections with elected officials, advance NASW’s policy agenda, and builds respect for NASW as a committed activist organization.

NASW’s policy positions are based on issues found in NASW’s policy statements as outlined in Social Work Speaks. NASW members vote every three years vote on those policy statements at Delegate Assembly.


Chapter PACE committees have the authority to endorse or make financial contributions to candidates for only state and local office. National PACE oversees federal races because of the national strategy that takes into consideration goals of the entire association.


  • NASW Arkansas PACE committee makes available a candidate questionnaire for incumbents and challengers.
  • If the candidate has been elected before, committee researches the candidate’s voting record.
  • NASW Arkansas PACE committee endorses candidates for state/local office after reviewing research and recommendations.
  • Once the endorsement decision is complete, NASW Arkansas PACE committee communicates to members through email and communicates to candidates in writing, and in person when possible.
  • For the 2020 November General Election, endorsements will not be made prior to September 30, 2020.
  • To be considered for endorsement for the 2020 November General Election by the NASW Arkansas PACE committee, candidates must complete the Candidate Questionnaire by September 15, 2020.

Endorsement Criteria

Endorsements of political candidates are done on the basis of several criteria, not by political party affiliation. Agreement with every NASW position is not required. Criteria may include:

  • issues that the candidate supports or opposes
  • whether the current officeholder is seeking re-election
  • specific assistance in achieving NASW’s legislative goals
  • building an electoral presence for future campaigns
  • leadership position of the incumbent, such as committee assignments
  • affirmative action considerations for candidates from underrepresented groups

Levels of Endorsement

NASW Arkansas PACE offers the following levels of *support:

  • letter of endorsement
  • financial contribution (if funding is available)
  • encouragement to members to volunteer for the candidate’s campaign
 * An endorsement by NASW Arkansas PACE does not guarantee specific types of promotion on social media, traditional media, online, or through other channels.

National Endorsements

PACE endorses and contributes to candidates from any party who meet the endorsement criteria . The national PACE Board of Trustees endorses and contributes to federal candidates running for U.S. House and Senate seats. PACE also contributes financially to the two major political parties through “donor councils” run by each party. In addition, NASW Policy staff attend fundraisers for Republican, Democratic, and Independent members of Congress, and tickets to those events are considered contributions. If there are candidates you would like to suggest for endorsement, please e-mail See current endorsements by state on the PACE Endorsement List.


NASW-AR PACE is a registered political action committee with the Arkansas Secretary of State. The Chapter President makes appointments to the PACE Committee.


Social Workers traditionally have been committed to improving American life through voluntary association of a sociopolitical nature. The involvement of Social Workers in social movements and political processes has taken many forms and concentrated on various elements needing improvement in American society and government, depending on many factors within the profession’s development.

Social Workers from the National Association of Social Workers have sought to renew and strengthen their organizational and professional focus in the political process by forming a national voluntary association for collective action which is the Political Action for Candidate Election (PACE). To secure the benefits of similar participation in chapter political processes, NASW-AR PACE was established to define a political action group for professional Social Workers in the Chapter of Arkansas.


You are! Through NASW-AR PACE, social workers like you can make contributions to support progressive candidates and volunteer to work on campaigns of NASW-AR PACE endorsed candidates.

What Are NASW-AR PACE’s Goals?

NASW-AR PACE recognizes the importance of social workers’ roles in the formulation of sound public policy and seeks to build constructive working relationships with elected officials by:

  • Advancing social workers as candidates for public office.
  • Organizing social workers to help elect endorsed candidates to public office who support legislation and public policy consistent with the aims of NASW-AR.
  • Providing political education about endorsed candidates and issues to members of NASW-AR.
  • Promoting the adoption of public policy through political action that is in the interest of the social work profession and consumers of social work services.

How Do We Accomplish These Goals?

Political action is the key. The involvement of thousands of social workers working together can dramatically increase our influence and power in the political process. With your commitment and support, we can strengthen the voice of social work in the Arkansas General Assembly. You can be a part of the NASW-AR PACE team by:

  • Contributing to the NASW-AR PACE fund. These funds are used to provide financial support to candidates and to organize social workers to work on campaigns.
  • Volunteering to work for an NASW-AR PACE endorsed candidate.
  • Serving as a local organizer for social work participation in grassroots political activity.
  • Helping candidates for public office build ties to the social work community by sponsoring candidate forums.


If you would like to contribute to the NASW-AR PACE fund to support progressive candidates or volunteer to work on campaigns of NASW-AR PACE endorsed candidates, please e-mail Holly at  For information on the income and expenditures of NASW-AR PACE or any other Arkansas political action committee, visit the Arkansas Secretary of State financial disclosure search website.


NASW Arkansas Chapter is currently represented in the following coalitions:

Arkansas Advocates’ for Children & Families Kids Count Coalition to promote, protect and unify the interests of the children and families of Arkansas.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to assist victims of violence gain and maintain their freedom from abuse; to support parents fighting to protect their children from an abusive partner or ex-partner within the court system; and to support NCADV’s public policy efforts aimed at educating national leaders on the issue of domestic violence and influencing national legislation, policy and funding decisions that keep victims of violence safe.