Massachusetts Governor Signs Social Worker Safety Bill

The new law requires direct services providers that receive funding from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to provide workplace violence prevention and crisis response plans.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's office announced he has signed the Social Work Safety in the Workforce bill, which requires all direct services providers that receive funding from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide workplace violence prevention and crisis response plans. The bill was originally signed into law on Feb. 15, 2013, as part of the FY13 Supplemental Budget.

"This legislation offers vital safety protections to human service employees and social workers," said State Sen. Sal DiDomenico. "While it will not ameliorate the sorrow and suffering of previous tragedies that have occurred in the past, it will bring us closer to ensuring the safety of those workers who take care of our most vulnerable populations. I have to thank NASW for their leadership on this issue, Representative Sean Garballey for his partnership on this bill, and my colleagues in the Senate for their tremendous support, including Senate President Therese Murray."

NASW is the National Association of Social Workers, an organization with almost 145,000 members. NASW announced March 7 that Anthony "Angelo" McClain, Ph.D., LICSW, has been named its new CEO. McClain joined NASW after serving six years as commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

"Today marks a major advancement for the social work profession,” said Carol Trust, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of NASW. “With the signing today of the social work safety in the workplace bill, Governor Patrick and the entire legislature have demonstrated their commitment to the profession and also to the clients and communities served by social workers."

"Developing safety policies for social workers is important on so many levels, and I am very pleased with the passage of this bill," said State Rep. Thomas Stanley. "The legislation not only creates a critical environment of safety for our social workers, but also helps reduce staff burnout and improves employee retention." The law requires violence prevention and crisis response plans to be updated at least annually for social workers, human services workers, volunteers, and all other employees.

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