• NASW-IL Staff

From the Pen of the Executive Director: January 2022

Joel L. Rubin, MSW, ACSW, CAE

NASW-Illinois Chapter Executive Director

Happy 2022 to all of you!


Last January, I wrote the following: “We have much to look forward to in 2021 and much work to do, hopefully putting COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, but still remaining vigilant with our mask-wearing and social distancing until as many people as possible get vaccinated.” Some of you may remember the 1993 film, Groundhog Day, with Bill Murray and Chris Elliot (among others) in which Bill Murray keeps reliving the same day over and over again. The past couple of months, we have been reliving many of the tragic COVID impacts we experienced in 2020. We made progress this past year in learning to adjust our lives to COVID realities. The hope is that our current setbacks will be temporary and that 2022 will healthy and fulfilling year for everyone.


In spite of the challenges of COVID, 2021 contained many chapter accomplishments. The following are just some of them:


Virtual Trainings/CEU Opportunities

Our virtual trainings continued in a big way in 2021. Not being able to meet in person did not diminish the availability of 48 quality trainings throughout the year, with over 2,400 participants, including our first multi-state virtual conference (Illinois, Nevada and North Dakota) which over participated. Social workers who were not to attend these events live virtually, have been able to CEU recording platform for virtual education were able to access these trainings on national CEU recording platform (Inreach) for virtual education.


Legislative Achievements

2021 saw many legislative achievements for the social work profession in Illinois and for the individuals, families, and communities that we serve. A summary of these can be found on the chapter website: https://www.naswil.org/post/2021-illinois-general-assembly-legislative-session-final-wrap-up


Probably the most significant legislative accomplishment in 2021 was the signing of SB1632 into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker on August 6, 2021, removing the ASWB testing requirements for licensed social workers (LSWs): https://www.naswil.org/post/frequently-asked-questions-about-new-illinois-lsw-testing-law.


Our presence in the state capita. remains strong. The efforts of Kyle Hillman, the NASW-Illinois Chapter’s Director of Legislative Affairs, keep it at that level.


The chapter also helped the social work community navigate the licensure renewal challenges that the state faced this past fall. As many of you know, the licensure cycle renewal was extended from November 30, 2021, to February 28, 2022. A detailed description and FAQs on the renewal variances can be found on the chapter website: https://www.naswil.org/post/idfpr-provides-clarification-on-variance-extends-ceu-deadline-to-february-28-2020. The new licensure cycle (2021–2023) will also have some new and updated requirements which you can find here: https://www.naswil.org/post/idfpr-licensure-renewal-requirements-for-2021-2023


Continued Efforts around Strengthening the Social Work Workforce in Illinois

This past March 2021, the chapter released its 2020 workforce report, “An Evaluation of the Illinois Social Work Workforce: Challenges and Opportunities,” funded by the Telligen Community Initiative (TCI): https://www.naswil.org/post/nasw-il-publishes-workforce-evaluation-report.


Earlier this fall, NASW-Illinois Chapter received funding from TCI for our grant proposal, "Strategies to Strengthen the Social Work Workforce Diversity Pipeline in Illinois," to carry out our continued efforts regarding social work workforce issues in Illinois. The grant design aims to accomplish the following:

  1. Examine barriers to entry to the social work profession by establishing focus groups with under-represented communities, (Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American..) social workers;

  2. Reach out through in-person virtual forums to existing diverse allied paraprofessionals such as community health workers currently employed in the healthcare/mental health care field (hospitals and human service organizations) to gauge their interest in social work careers;

  3. Reach out through in-person and virtual forums to community colleges that would serve as a bridge to social work programs in the state; &

  4. Work with social work undergraduate/graduate programs in the state of Illinois to partner in developing this pipeline and recognizing prior community college course work and/or degrees.

We are partnering with Rush Hospital in Chicago as well as working with the chapter’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (DEIC) in various components of the grant. The grant cycle period runs from November 1, 2021, through October 31, 2022.


In a parallel effort, the chapter’s Older Adults Shared Interest Group (SIG) is working with several schools of social work and Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) across the state to strengthen the social work presence in aging practice.


A couple of additional notes:


Transitions – Farewell to Simone Law

Simone Law, the chapter’s Events Coordinator since July 2019, will be transitioning to a new position in early January. Simone joined the chapter pre-COVID and played an integral role in helping the chapter pivot its online education and training to virtual platforms. She has worked with all of our district chairs, and we thank her for all of her efforts. The chapter will be filling the Events and Education Coordinator position—to apply, click here. We wish Simone much success in her new position!


2022 NASW-Illinois Chapter Board Nominations

Chapter board nominations are underway. Please share with colleagues and friends who would be interested in being part of the leadership of the chapter: https://www.naswil.org/post/join-the-2022-nasw-illinois-chapter-board-of-directors. Laura Kessel, immediate past chair of the West Central District and former board member, will be chairing the 2022 Chapter Committee on Nominations and Leadership Identification (CCNLI). The deadline for nominations is March 1, 2022.


I want to thank our chapter board president and our board of directors for their leadership this past year, as well as the efforts of the NASW-Illinois Chapter professional staff, Nina Nguyen, Kyle Hillman, and Simone Law.


Wishing all of you and your families a happy and healthy 2022!

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