April 2021: NASW-Illinois Chapter Advocacy Update
While the NASW-Illinois Chapter (NASW-IL) is currently monitoring or advocating for over 300 (and growing) bills currently active in the Illinois General Assembly that relate to social work or our clients, we wanted to provide an update on some of our initiatives and coalition-led legislation that we have worked on this year.
Some of the below bills will be discussed at greater length at our annual Advocacy Day taking place live virtually on Thursday, April 8, 2021. We will have speakers ranging from Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch to social work/social work graduates Illinois Senator Karina Villa, Representative Lindsey LaPointe, and Representative Jackie Haas. There is still time to register (and earn up to 3.0 CEUs) here: https://naswil.wufoo.com/forms/43030-040821-virtual-advocacy-day/
HB212 SCHCD-MENTAL HEALTH TASK FORCE (CONROY D)
Amends the School Code to create the Mental Health Task Force for Communication, Intelligence, Empathy, Emotion, and Empowerment. Provides that the purpose of the task force is to explore and determine a method and program for all students in primary and secondary school to receive mandated mental health care. Sets forth the membership of the task force. Contains provisions concerning the intent of the program, the goals of mandated health care, and task force meetings, duties, and reporting. Repeals these provisions on January 1, 2023. Effective immediately.
NASW-IL Postion: We support the intent of the bill but are requesting a change in the make-up of the taskforce to reflect school social workers.
HB219 SCH CD-TIME OUT-RESTRAINT (CARROLL J)
Amends the School Code. Makes changes concerning the adoption of rules by the State Board of Education governing time out and physical restraint in the public schools. Subject to appropriation, requires the State Board to create a grant program for school districts and special education cooperatives and charter schools to implement school-wide, culturally sensitive, and trauma-informed practices, positive behavioral interventions and supports, and restorative practices. Allows the State Board to contract with a third party to provide assistance with oversight and monitoring, and requires the State Board to establish reduction goals and a system of ongoing review, auditing, and monitoring. Makes changes in provisions concerning a school board's use of time out and physical restraint, including providing that isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint may be used only under certain circumstances, prohibiting the deprivation of necessities and prone, mechanical, and chemical restraint, and requiring a meeting with school personnel if requested by the parent or guardian, the provision of information to parents and guardians, and written procedures. Effective immediately.
NASW-IL Position: We have been one of the lead advocacy groups pushing for an end to the abusive practices of prone restraint and seclusion rooms. We fully support this legislation.
HB309 IMPLICIT BIAS TRAINING HEALTH (GREENWOOD L)
Creates the Implicit Bias Training for Health Care Professionals Act. Provides that in order to renew a license as a health care professional in the State, a licensee shall complete an evidence-based implicit bias training, which shall include the promotion of bias-reducing strategies to address how unintended biases regarding race, ethnicity, gender, identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or other characteristics. Specifies information that shall be included in the implicit bias training. Provides that the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation shall adopt rules to implement the Act.
NASW-IL Position: We fully support the addition of implicit bias into educational requirements for social workers. NASW-IL is advocating, however, that this and other bills like this work in tandem with existing licensure requirements.
HB804 CLEAN JOBS EQUITY ACT (WILLIAMS A)
Creates the Clean Jobs, Workforce and Contractor Equity Act. Creates the Equity and Empowerment in Clean Energy Advisory Board to administer the Clean Jobs Workforce Hubs Program, the Expanding Clean Energy Entrepreneurship and Contractor Incubator Network Program, the Returning Residents Clean Jobs Training Program, and the Illinois Clean Energy Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Primes Contractor Accelerator. Creates the Illinois Clean Energy Jobs and Justice Fund Act, the Community Energy, Climate, and Jobs Planning Act, the Energy Community Reinvestment Act, the Clean Energy Empowerment Zone Tax Credit Act, the Coal Severance Fee Act, the Building Energy Performance Standard Act, and the Public Utilities Intervenor Compensation Act. Amends the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act to allow for emergency rulemaking. Amends the State Finance Act to create The Energy Community Reinvestment Fund, the Illinois Commerce Commission Intervenor Compensation Fund, and the Illinois Clean Energy Jobs and Justice Fund. Amends the Electric Vehicle Act, the Energy Efficient Building Act the Illinois Power Agency Act, the Illinois Income Tax Act, the Retailers' Occupation Tax Act, the School Code, the Public Utilities Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Illinois Nuclear Facility Safety Act, and the Prevailing Wage Act by making changes to implement certain programs. Makes other changes. Effective immediately.
NASW-IL Position: We support the Clean Jobs Equity Act and will continue to push for equitable distribution of benefits created from this initiative.
HB1736 SCH CD-SEX ABUSE-SEX EDUCATION (WILLIS K)
House Committee Amendment No. 1 - Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Amends the School Code. Makes changes in the School Boards Article relating to policies addressing sexual abuse. In the Courses of Study Article, repeals the sex education, family life, and instruction on diseases provisions. Instead, sets forth comprehensive personal health and safety education requirements for course materials and instruction, requires the State Board of Education to post on its website personal health and safety education resources for use in pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade, provides for school disclosure, parental requests, and notice, allows a school district to collaborate with a local public health department to identify and designate a qualified employee of the local public health department as the school district's point of contact for the purposes of responding to inquiries and comments about course instruction and materials, requires the State Board to develop, maintain, and make publicly available State standards, and provides for rulemaking. Makes changes in the Chicago School District Article concerning AIDS training. Effective immediately.
NASW-IL Position: We are a coalition member of this initiative to mandate age-appropriate sex education in all Illinois schools, including LGBTQIA+ sex education.
HB2595 INSURANCE-MENTAL HEALTH (CONROY D)
Amends the Illinois Insurance Code. Provides that every insurer that amends, delivers, issues, or renews a group or individual policy of accident and health insurance or a qualified health plan offered through the health insurance marketplace in the State and Medicaid managed care organizations providing coverage for hospital or medical treatment shall provide coverage for medically necessary treatment of mental, emotional, nervous, or substance use disorders or conditions. Provides that an insurer shall not limit benefits or coverage for medically necessary services on the basis that those services should be or could be covered by a public program. Provides that an insurer shall base any medical necessity determination or the utilization review criteria on current generally accepted standards of mental, emotional, nervous, or substance use disorder or condition care. Provides that in conducting utilization review of covered health care services and benefits for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of mental, emotional, and nervous disorders or conditions in children, adolescents, and adults, an insurer shall exclusively apply the criteria and guidelines set forth in the most recent versions of the treatment criteria developed by the nonprofit professional association for the relevant clinical specialty. Provides that an insurer shall not apply different, additional, conflicting, or more restrictive utilization review criteria than the criteria and guidelines set forth in the treatment criteria. Provides that the Director may, after appropriate notice and opportunity for hearing, assess a civil penalty between $5,000 and $20,000 for each violation. Amends the Health Carrier External Review Act. Provides that independent review organization shall comply with specified requirements for an adverse determination or final adverse determination involving mental, emotional, nervous, or substance use disorders or conditions. Makes other changes. Effective immediately.
NASW-IL Position: This is an initiative of The Kennedy Forum of which NASW-IL is a key coalition member. We support this initiative to strengthen mental health parity.
HB2784 MENTAL HEALTH-EMERGENCY (CASSIDY K)
Creates the Community Emergency Services and Supports Act. Provides that the Act applies to every unit of local government that provides or coordinates ambulance or similar emergency medical response or transportation services for individuals with emergency medical needs. A home rule unit may not respond to or provide services for a mental or behavioral health emergency, or create a transportation plan or other regulation, relating to the provision of mental or behavioral health services in a manner inconsistent with this Act. Provides that one plan shall describe how the EMS Region will provide mobile emergency mental and behavioral health services to individuals who do not present as a threat to the responders, and are not involved in criminal activity at the time of the response. Provides that the plan shall conform to the requirements of the Act and, recognizing the variety of systems, services, and needs across the State, provide the specific requirements and guidance appropriate for that region. Provides that the plan shall be identified as the region's community emergency services and supports plan. Provides that the second plan shall describe the manner and extent to which responders operating under the region's Community Emergency Services and Supports Plan coordinate with law enforcement when responding to individuals who appear to be in a mental or behavioral health emergency while engaged in conduct alleged to constitute a non-violent misdemeanor. Provides that the plan shall be identified as the region's Non-Violent Misdemeanor Coordination Plan. Amends the Emergency Telephone System Act to make conforming changes. Effective immediately.
NASW-IL Position: This is an initiative of Access Living. NASW-IL fully supports this legislation to create an alternative to law enforcement for mental health–related 911 calls.
HB3498 TELEHEALTH SERVICES (CONROY D)
Amends the Telehealth Act. Provides that the Act applies to all health insurance coverage offered by health insurance issuers regulated by the Department of Insurance or the Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the medical assistance program authorized under the Illinois Public Aid Code. Provides that any policy, contract, or certificate of health insurance coverage that does not distinguish between in-network and out-of-network providers shall be subject to the Act as though all providers were in-network. Provides that health insurance issuers shall cover all telehealth services rendered by a health care professional to deliver any clinically appropriate, medically necessary covered services. Restricts health insurance issuers from engaging in specified activities. Provides that health care professionals and facilities shall determine the appropriateness of specific sites, technology platforms, and technology vendors for a telehealth service, as long as delivered services adhere to privacy laws. Changes the term "telehealth" to "telehealth services". Makes corresponding changes. Defines terms. Amends the Illinois Insurance Code. In provisions concerning coverage for telehealth services, makes changes to definitions. Provides that coverage and reimbursement for telehealth services delivered by health care professionals and facilities shall comply with the Telehealth Act. Makes other changes. Amends the Illinois Public Aid Code. Provides that the Department and managed care organizations shall comply with the Telehealth Act and removes provisions concerning behavioral health and medical services via telehealth. Makes other changes. Amends the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act to provide for emergency rulemaking. Effective immediately.
NASW-IL Position: We fully support this initiative and are a coalition member working to pass telehealth parity as well as to codify most of the executive orders created by the governor during the COVID-19 pandemic.
HB3821 DCFS-RACIAL DISPROPORTIONALITY (HARPER S)
Provides that the Task Force shall include one member (rather than 2 members) from an organization with expertise in the child welfare system that advocates to preserve and reunify families, appointed by the Governor's Office; 2 members who provide legal representation on behalf of the State of Illinois in child protection cases, one from the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, appointed by the Governor's Office, and one from a State's Attorney's office outside of Cook County, appointed by the Governor's Office; and one member from a statewide organization advocating for the advancement of civil liberties for at least 80 years in Illinois, appointed by the Governor's Office. Provides that the Department of Children and Family Services shall facilitate the prompt and timely collection and provision of data as requested by or on behalf of the Task Force. Requires the Task Force to explore policies and protocols that honor language, culture, and heritage in identity formation and familial relationships, including, but not limited to, race-blind child protection screenings and child removal reviews, as implemented in other jurisdictions around the United States, and to make recommendations for implementation in Illinois. Effective immediately.
NASW-IL Position: We fully support this critical look into the DCFS system and how it disproportionately is used on BIOPIC communities.
SB63 DCFS-YOUTH IN CARE-FAFSA-APPLY (PETERS R)
Amends the Children and Family Services Act. Requires the Department of Children and Family Services to ensure that every youth in care who is entering his or her final year of high school has completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, if applicable, or an application for State financial aid on or after October 1, but no later than November 1, of the youth's final year of high school. Requires the Department to assist a youth in care in identifying and obtaining all documents necessary to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, if applicable, or an application for State financial aid.
NASW-IL Position: This is an NASW-IL initiative to address the difficulty youth-in-care have in completing the FASFA and gaining access to critical assistance.
SB136 CHILD WELFARE ED STIPEND PRGM (MORRISON J)
Amends the Children and Family Services Act. Beginning with the 2021-2022 academic year, requires the Department of Children and Family Services to establish and administer the Child Welfare Education Stipend Pilot Program to provide financial assistance to students who commit to seek and maintain employment at an Illinois purchase of service agency that contracts with the Department following their graduation from a participating institution of higher education with a degree in social work. Sets forth provisions concerning an intergovernmental agreement, student eligibility and renewal, the stipend amount, the student's employment obligation, repayment of a stipend, Department and institution requirements, reporting, and rulemaking. Effective July 1, 2021.
NASW-IL Position: We fully support this child welfare loan forgiveness initiative by Senator Morrison—one of the key steps to addressing workforce issues in Illinois.
SB661 HIGHER ED-SOCIAL WORK/EDUCATOR (GILLESPIE A)
Amends the Higher Education Student Assistance Act. Allows the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to award Post-Master of Social Work School Social Work Professional Educator License scholarships to an individual who has a valid Illinois-licensed clinical social work license or social work license and a Master of Social Work degree for the purpose of obtaining a Professional Educator License with an endorsement in social work. Sets forth various terms and conditions of the scholarship, including that a recipient of the scholarship must work at a public or nonpublic not-for-profit preschool, elementary school, or secondary school located in this State for at least 2 of the 5 years immediately following the recipient's graduation or termination of studies. Effective January 1, 2022.
NASW-IL Position: This is an NASW-IL initiative to create scholarships for MSWs who wish to acquire their Post MSW PEL. This is one of three school social work workforce bills we are pushing this session (see SB662 and SB2071).
SB662 HIGHER ED-SOCIAL WORKER-GRANT (GILLESPIE A)
Amends the Higher Education Student Assistance Act. Creates the School Social Work Shortage Loan Repayment Program. Provides that the Illinois Student Assistance Commission shall, each year, receive and consider applications from eligible social workers who are employed by a public elementary or secondary school in this State to encourage a grant recipient to use the financial assistance for the repayment of educational loans. Sets forth eligibility and other requirements. Effective July 1, 2022.
NASW-IL Position: This is an NASW-IL initiative that would create a loan forgiveness program for school social workers who work in public schools for a set period of time after graduation. This is the second of three school social work workforce bills we are pushing this session (see SB661 and SB2071).
SB1632 SOCIAL WORKER-EXAMINATION (VILLA K)
Amends the Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act. Removes a provision requiring a person to pass an examination as authorized by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to be qualified to be licensed as a licensed social worker. Makes corresponding changes.
NASW-IL Position: This is another workforce-related bill that NASW-IL is pushing this session which would remove the requirement that graduates of a social work program pass the LSW test in order to get licensed as an LSW. Applicants would still have to complete all other requirements including 3 years of supervision for BSWs and background checks before applying. The most recent workforce study done by NASW-IL stressed the need to remove unnecessary burdens to licensure. This fix would be more equitable and also address out-of-compliance issues with Illinois licensure and the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).
SB1974 INS CD-HEALTH CARE RECOUPMENT (FINE L)
Amends the Illinois Insurance Code. Provides that an insurer, health maintenance organization, independent practice association, or physician hospital organization may not attempt a recoupment or offset until all appeal rights of a health care professional or health care provider are exhausted. Provides that no recoupment or offset may be requested or withheld from future payments 6 months or more after the original payment is made (rather than 18 months or more after the original payment is made). Effective January 1, 2022.
NASW-IL Position: This is an NASW-IL initiative aimed at reducing the 18-month period for insurance recoupment to 6 months. While we expect an amendment to this bill, we are in full support of a reduction in the recoupment period.
SB2071 SCH CD-LICENSURE-SOCIAL WORKER (CASTRO C)
Amends the Educator Licensure Article of the School Code. Provides that an applicant who (i) has earned a master's degree in social work from a regionally accredited institution of higher education and (ii) holds a valid license issued pursuant to the Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act may obtain a school social worker Professional Educators License, as defined and specified by rule without further college debt. Provides that an applicant who satisfies these requirements is not required to complete an Illinois-approved educator preparation program but may be required to fulfill other criteria established by rule of the State Board of Education. Including working a set period of time (3 years) under direct supervision of PEL School Social Worker and completing required continuing education/trainings around school social work.
NASW-IL Position: This is an NASW-IL initiative set to address real workforce shortages in the field as well as reduce the financial burden to licensure for post-MSW school social workers. While the other two bills in this three-bill workforce page will be quicker in helping graduates gain licensure (see SB661 and SB662), this option provides for those who did not have the foresight to get the school social work specialty while in graduate school a path to licensure that does not require additional debt. This bill will create more PEL school social workers while allowing existing school social workers to mentor these school social workers in training.
SB2177 DCFS-BAGGAGE FOR YOUTH-IN-CARE (SIMS E)
Amends the Children and Family Services Act. Provides that no youth in care shall be required to store his or her belongings in plastic bags or in similar forms of disposable containers, including, but not limited to, trash bags, paper or plastic shopping bags, or pillow cases when relocating from one placement type to another placement type or when discharged from the custody or guardianship of the Department of Children and Family Services. Requires the Department and all purchase of service agencies under contract with the Department to ensure that each youth in care has appropriate baggage and other items to store his or her belongings when moving through the State's child welfare system.
NASW-IL Position: This is an NASW-IL initiative to end the practice of handling youth-in-care inappropriate carrying items like trash bags to carry their belongings between transports.
The above summary only reflects the status of NASW-IL's position on a bill at the time of the report. As legislative changes occur frequently, this may no longer be the current status or NASW-IL's position.