Winter 2020 Board Bulletin

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Minnesota Board of Social Work

Protecting the Public


Board Bulletin | Minnesota Board of Social Work Newsletter

Message from New Board Chair Thomas Brooks

Leadership drives the board’s commitment to our shared mission and stakeholders.  Board members and board staff have been hard at work to better serve licensees and the public.  Through collaboration with community stakeholders and your recent stakeholder survey feedback, we are committed to continued transparency and streamlining all board services.  Exciting changes are making their way through our legislature to better serve you and get us all closer to our shared mission of protecting the public.

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Legislative Feature

2020 Legislative Session About to Begin:
BOSW Proposal Moving Forward!

Representative Heather Edelson, LGSW, and BOSW Executive Director Kate Zacher-Pate, LSW, drop House bill into “the hopper”

Representative Heather Edelson, LGSW, and BOSW Executive Director Kate Zacher-Pate, LSW, dropping House bill BOSW 2020 Legislative Proposal into “the hopper” on January 30, 2020

As BOSW has communicated to stakeholders since January of 2019, the Board is proposing noncontroversial, technical, and housekeeping changes to the Social Work Practice Act during the 2020 legislative session. This proposal is the culmination of two years of work by board, staff and stakeholders to update the Social Work Practice Act.

The House bill was introduced on January 31, 2020, and the Senate bill was submitted for introduction on February 6, 2020!

For complete information, including a side-by-side comparison and summary of the proposed changes, and bill language, visit the 2020 Legislative Proposal page on the Board's website.

Continue reading for a summary of House and Senate action to date, social work professional organizations formally supporting the proposal, and what to expect as the 2020 legislative session begins on February 11, 2020!

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Customer Satisfaction Survey Results

The Board identified surveying BOSW stakeholders as a priority in its 2015-2018 Strategic Plan. The BOSW Customer Satisfaction Survey launched in October of 2019,  and the results were shared at the January 17, 2020 board meeting. The Board will continue to discuss the results and develop possible recommendations for improvements at upcoming public board meetings. Click below to view the initial report on Customer Satisfaction Survey results (also available on the Board Reports page of the Board's website) and sign up to receive Licensing News & Updates to stay up-to-date.


Compliance Toolkit

The Compliance Toolkit is a regular feature of the Board Bulletin that will provide you with tools for handling common ethical dilemmas and issues related to the Standards of Practice found in the Minnesota Social Work Practice Act. Consider the following scenario:

I am a licensed social worker and I just received a letter from the Board stating that my practice is being reviewed because of a complaint the Board received. I have been practicing for 15 years and have never had this happen before. I am a good, competent social worker and this complaint is very upsetting. What will happen to my license? How should I respond to the Board’s letter? What are the steps in the process?

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Partnering with ASWB

Thomas Brooks Elected to ASWB Board of Directors

Thomas Brooks, BOSW Public Member and Board Chair, was elected to serve a two-year term as director at large on the Association of Social Work 2020 Board (ASWB) Board of Directors at ASWB's annual meeting.

Brooks is currently serving his second term as a Public Member on the BOSW and was elected as the 2020-2021 BOSW Board Chair at the September 13, 2019 public board meeting. He is a Global Project Manager for U.S. Bank and also currently serves on the City of Brooklyn Park Human Rights Council. Brooks holds a Master of Science degree in Psychology-Industrial and Organizational from Grand Canyon University, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

Congratulations, Thomas, and thank you for your leadership and commitment to the BOSW and ASWB!

Photo of members elected to ASWB 2020 Board of Directors: Beatrice Traub-Werner (ON), Thomas Brooks (MN), Kim Madsen (CA), and Brian Philson (MI).

The members of the 2020 Board of Directors elected at the 2019 annual meeting are, from left: Beatrice Traub-Werner (ON), Thomas Brooks (MN), Kim Madsen (CA), and Brian Philson (MI). Photo credit: ASWB.

Meet the Board

Who serves on the Board's Compliance Panels and why are they important?

The Board's Compliance Panels are an integral part of the complaint resolution process: by law, only board members can decide the outcome of a complaint. Compliance Panel members meet monthly to review findings of investigations and decide the outcome. 

The Board has two Compliance Panels, with three licensed board members and one public board member on each Panel. Board members rotate off of Compliance Panel when their terms end, every 4 years, to ensure members represent the diversity of the profession including different license types, practice settings, expertise, and cultural backgrounds. Compliance Panel term limits also ensure that all board members have direct experience with complaint resolution.

We asked Ken Middlebrooks, BOSW Public Member and former Compliance Panel B member, to share some thoughts on his experience serving on Compliance Panel:

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all important; 10 being extremely important), how important do you think complaint resolution is to the Board’s mission of protecting the public?

"Complaint resolution is clearly a 10. The complaint resolution process is critical to the Board's mission of public safety, and ensuring that licensed social workers are competent to practice, and are accountable to the people they serve."

What stands out about your experience serving on the Board's Compliance Panel?

"The work ethic of both panel members and staff. The number of cases have increased significantly over the last several years. This has required an increase in time for case analysis, and review."

Were you surprised by anything in your experience serving on the Board’s Compliance Panel?

"My greatest surprise was the number of boundary and ethics violations by experienced social workers."

The complaint resolution process is critical to the Board's mission of protecting the public, and we truly appreciate the time, expertise, and dedication of Compliance Panel members, BOSW staff, and the attorneys and investigators at the Office of the Attorney General!

Data Snapshot2019 Complaints by the Numbers
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313 complaints received

161 complaints resolved

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15,875 total licensees

34 public board actions

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2 BOSW compliance staff

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8 board members...

...serving on 2 Compliance Panels

Did You Know?

Licensing provides safeguards for the public in the rare event professional standards are not met

By law, only board members can decide the outcome of a complaint

• The Board's Compliance Panels meet every month to review complaints—each case is reviewed individually, with a focus on how best to protect the public

• Compliance Panels are one of the few committees with term limits to ensure diversity in membership

• Violations of the Standards of Practice are rare—less than 12% of all complaints filed result in Board action

Opportunity to Serve

Serve as BOSW Board Member!

There are three scheduled licensed professional board member vacancies for terms ending January 6, 2020 to be filled by the Governor's office no later than June 30, 2020. Apply at the Secretary of State website. Read the Board Member Vacancy Press Release for more information.

Legislation & Rules Committee News

The Legislation and Rules (L&R) Committee convened in January of 2018 to begin an in-depth review of the Social Work Practice Act, with a focus on relevant regulation, plain language, licensure mobility, and technology standards. The L&R Committee is comprised of Board members, Board staff, and 3 representatives from the Board's Advisory Committee, creating an opportunity for stakeholder input throughout the process.

Committee Action to Date:

• Completed review of 20 sections of the Social Work Practice Act resulting in the 2020 BOSW Legislative Proposal including technical, housekeeping, and policy improvements proposed for 13 sections of statute

• Work continues in 2020 with a focus on reviewing:

- Supervised practice

Standards of Practice 

• Visit the Board Committees page on the Board’s website for the L&R Committee meeting schedule, past meeting minutes, and agendas

• Stakeholders may submit written comments to

Connect with the BOSW

Attend a Public Board Meeting!

Attending a public Board meeting is a great way for licensees and stakeholders to engage with the BOSW and stay up-to-date with BOSW news. Visit the Board Meetings page on the Board’s website for the public board meeting schedule, recent meeting documents, and previous meeting minutes.

BOSW at Conferences

Keep an eye out for the BOSW exhibit booth at many of the major social work educational conferences for a chance to chat with BOSW staff and board members! In March, the BOSW will give an ethics presentation at the Annual Minnesota Social Service Association (MSSA) Training Conference & Expo.

Social Work Month

March is Social Work Month!

Social Work Month is an opportunity for the Board to recognize the extremely important work of licensed social workers, as a critical licensed profession. We value the dedication and professionalism of licensed social workers as they serve individuals, families, and communities in need. 

Celebrate your fellow social workers and get involved in Social Work Month in your community!

Click here to manage your subscription preferences and stay tuned for more Social Work Month updates from the Board in March.