NASW-Illinois Chapter President Kenna Dunlap Johnson, MBA, MSW, LCSW
Phew! I am happy to welcome April! That was the longest Social Work Month I think I’ve ever felt. Am I the only one that feels that way? What a month to appreciate social workers across the nation and across the world for that matter. Social work really does break barriers. I see it every day when I travel to rural hospitals. I see it in NASW-IL members I get to meet with, committee members, and board members. I see it in our staff at the NASW-Illinois Chapter. I see it in my great colleagues with other social work associations. I see it in my daughters’ school. I see it at the UIUC School of Social Work where I teach adjunct. I see it in meetings that I get to attend for the chapter. I see it in the work of my colleagues and my friends. I see it in so many ways. I just want to say THANK YOU for doing what you do every day and for continuing to BREAK BARRIERS.
For Social Work Month, I had the pleasure of attending the NASW-IL Southern District event in Collinsville, IL, hosted by our fabulous district chair, Dr. Diona Shelton. This event was presented by Rachel Yaw, LCSW, RPT, and it was on Enhancing Resiliency & Self Care through Restorative Practices. It was an amazing event and a great turn out for our southern Illinois region. The content of this training was quite relevant considering our ethical obligation as social workers to make sure we are engaging self-care into our lives. It brought clarity to the way our professional and personal lives tend to gel together which can sometimes create more challenges for us in engaging ourselves in the self-care that we need. I hope to see this training available again in the future!
Telligen Workforce Grant Work Continues
Also, in the month of March, I had the opportunity to join NASW-IL Executive Director Joel Rubin and President-Elect Latesha Newson at a workforce meeting to bring together schools of social work and community colleges from across the state to discuss how we can address the social work workforce needs. Thanks to the UIUC School of Social Work for providing the space for this event. It was a great opportunity to share ideas on continuing to develop diversity pipelines to the social work profession as well as ways to consider Community Health Worker Certification within social work and vice versa, bridging community health workers and other like associate degrees to social work.
2023 Virtual Advocacy Day
Additionally, I had the pleasure of attending our 2023 Virtual Advocacy Day. Thank you to our National NASW CEO, Dr. Anthony Estreet, for joining us that day. Amazingly, over 700 social workers and social work students attended! The day carried an amazing lineup of speakers and topics. Thank you to all who participated. To be more aware, make sure to sign up for NASW-Illinois Chapter Advocacy Alerts at https://www.naswil.org/advocacy-alerts. For those of you who wish to also set up on-site lobbying with their local legislators, we are encouraging attendees to do so on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. NASW-Illinois will provide updated information prior to the date and can assist groups with setting up legislative meetings. Contact NASW-Illinois Chapter Social Work Intern Sydney Moreland at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details about in-person legislative meetings.
As a reminder, there are many opportunities to participate in events across the state. NASW-IL Events can be found at the following link: https://www.naswil.org/events. In addition, our Social Work Online CE Institute can also be accessed for previously recorded materials and more opportunities for CEUs as well as fulfillment of Illinois Social Work licensure CEU requirements.
Update on our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (DEIC)
We’ve had big changes happening, and our DEIC has been a part of that. They have officially had a change in leadership! I just want to send a huge thank you to NASW-IL President-Elect Latesha Newson for her ongoing dedication to our DEIC as chair. The work that she has done alongside DEIC members has impacted our profession and those whom we serve for the better, but their work is never done, and we have new leadership that has been appointed to carry on with this very important work. Welcome to our DEI Committee Co-Chairs Samantha Allen, MSW, LCSW, and Chelsea Laliberte Barnes, MSSA, LSW! Both Samantha and Chelsea bring a wealth of experience as well as the energy that this committee needs to keep moving forward. I look forward to seeing the continued progress of our DEIC.
CEU Course Fulfillment
I want to highlight some very important and helpful information on CEU Course fulfillment. NASW posted the article titled, “Ask NASW-IL: Can a CEU course fulfills 2 CEU specialties at once?” Unfortunately, the answer is no. If you take a course that fulfills one specialty requirement, you will have to take another course to fulfill the other specialty requirement. Please read the linked article for more information.
CEU In-Person Requirement Update
On February 2nd, NASW-IL released an article titled, “2021-2023 Licensure Renewal Update: Rules Filed to Remove In-Person CE Requirement.” At the time, we were waiting for the IDFPR comment period on this change. The comment period was up on March 20th. Now we will await the final response from IDFPR on this. I am hopeful that it will be changed for good or at least that an extension will be provided for this renewal period. However, those answers have not been released yet and it may take some time. Rest assured, NASW-IL will provide an update swiftly when new information is released.
HB2365 – Social Work Licensure Test Alternative
Finally, many of you may be aware that the legislation (HB2365) for the social work licensure test alternative passed in the house. This bill creates an alternative to the ASWB clinical exam toward licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). It would allow for candidates, who have otherwise met the educational and supervised clinical hour requirements for LCSW licensure, to complete an additional 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience in lieu of passing the LCSW licensing exam. The exam-based route would remain in place for anyone who wishes to pursue that path. I have been hearing from many of my colleagues and co-members on this, and I think that it is very important for you to be aware of this bill as well as to clarify your stance on it and what you think it means for the profession while also considering what options we have to address the racial disparities found from the ASWB data released in August 2022. Please visit the FAQs page provided on SB2365 here for more information. To make your voice heard with NASW-IL, please reach out via our contact page at https://www.naswil.org/copy-of-contact (After accessing the link, scroll to the bottom).
As always, there continues to be a lot happening in our chapter. I encourage you all to stay abreast of what is happening and to not hesitate to share your voice. We need to stand together and keep fighting the good fight. With that, I’ll leave you with a quote from the author of The Alchemist, Paul Coelho:
“The Good Fight is the one that we fight in the name of our dreams.”
Thanks for reading,
Kenna Dunlap Johnson, MBA, MSW, LCSW (MBA, University of St. Francis; MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) began working in the mental health field as a psychiatric inpatient mental health tech in 2004 prior to earning her MSW. After earning a degree in social work, Kenna continued on as case manager, therapist, and eventually, as director of behavioral health for a rural critical access hospital in east central Illinois. After that, Kenna went on to serve as director of admissions/intake for a 106-bed, free-standing psychiatric and addictions treatment hospital. She is currently vice president of outpatient services for a hospital management and consulting firm. In addition, Kenna teaches graduate and undergraduate social work courses for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Kenna served on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors as East Central District Chair for two terms, Vice-President for Budget and Finance for one term, and is now President (2021–2023). Kenna also serves her local school district as secretary for the board of education. Kenna is passionate about behavioral health treatment in rural settings as well as working to decrease stigma associated with mental illness. Kenna has also played a significant role in the NASW-Illinois Chapter Social Work Workforce Initiative as chair for the chapter's efforts to address social work workforce challenges and continue to grow and expand the valuable profession of social work.