The Washington House of Representatives today gave final approval to House Bill 1311 by Rep. Dan Bronoske to authorize the issuance of substance use disorder professional certifications to persons participating in apprenticeship programs. The bill came back to the House to approve amendments made in the Senate.
The Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee added language requiring the substance use disorder professional apprenticeship program be reviewed by the Substance Use Disorder Advisory Committee prior to approval by the Department of Health (DOH) and that educational requirements must meet or exceed competency requirements established by DOH.
“I appreciate the Senate for their amendment, which will allow for more stakeholder input,” said Bronoske. He continued, “Not only do we want deliver treatment to people right when they need it, but we also want to make sure treatment meets our expectations for high quality care as we work to grow our behavioral health workforce to meet the need in our communities.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington state was experiencing a shortage of professionals in the behavioral health and substance use disorder workforce. “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in substance use because of social isolation, loss of work, reduced connections with family and friends. This workforce is needed more than ever,” Bronoske commented in remarks during the virtual floor session.
He outlined, “Our vision is that everyone who needs behavioral health services and treatment gets treatment when they need it. They should get the best care from workers who reflect the communities we live in, and with the best possible training.”
Apprenticeships are not new to Washington’s workforce development, but this bill would provide the first opportunity to utilize them to address gaps in the behavioral health workforce.
The bill now goes to Governor Inslee for signature to become law.