Social Work Profession Awarded Federal Grant to Develop Interstate Licensure Compact

licensureMulti-year initiative will improve access to social work services, enhance the mobility of social workers and strengthen the state licensure system.

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), as part of an initiative to promote licensure portability for military spouses, has awarded a $500,000 grant for the development of an interstate licensure compact for social workers.

A compact is a legal agreement between states that will allow licensed social workers to practice in those states participating in the compact. Currently, licensed social workers must seek and receive licensure in each state in which they wish to practice.

“NASW is grateful to the DOD for recognizing the need for license portability for the many military spouses who are social workers, and for greater access to social work services,” said Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW, Chief Executive Officer of NASW. “NASW is proud to be a leader in these efforts and ensure a compact framework which reflects the NASW Code of Ethics and meets the needs of both social workers and the clients we serve”.

The grant, awarded through a competitive proposal process, will be provided to the Council of State Governments (CSG), which will oversee the development of the compact. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) will be the lead on the effort; the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA) will be partners. The DOD funding will cover the initial 12- to 16-month phase of a multi-year process to implement a compact. The compact legislation must then be enacted in each state that wishes to participate. NASW chapters will play a key role in advocacy efforts to enact compact legislation in the states. A plan for collaborating on and funding the subsequent phases of this initiative will be developed by NASW, CSWA, ASWB and other national social work organizations.

An interstate licensure compact for the social work profession will:

  • Improve client access to social work services
  • Increase opportunities to practice across state lines (e.g., teletherapy)
  • Enhance mobility of social workers and their families
  • Support spouses of relocating military families
  • Improve continuity of care
  • Preserve and strengthen the state licensure system
  • Enhance the exchange of licensure verification, investigatory, and disciplinary information between member states.

Over the next 12 to 16 months, CSG will lead social work stakeholders through a consensus-based process to develop the licensure compact language. Stakeholders include current social work licensees, association leaders, regulators, and subject matter experts, and state legislators, among others. There will be opportunities for input from the field.

To learn more, you can access the official announcements from the Department of Defense  and the Council of State Governments.

 

39 comments

  1. I was very interested to hear about the Compact Project. Here is my story: I am a LCSW in the state of Louisiana. I moved to the State of Georgia after hurricane katrina. I pursued licensure in Georgia but was met with so many stumbling blocks. As my work in academia did not require the license, I focused on the program and my incredible students rather than continue the pursuit of a license in GA. After 12 years, my family moved to the State of Florida in 2017. I again looked into the licensing process here but was deterred with the process and possible expense. I have maintained the LCSW with the State of Louisiana. I hope that this compact will come to fruition and would like to hear more as it progresses. How can I stay abreast of the progress of the Compact Project and receive notification updates?

  2. Fantastic! I have lived in 4 states (VA, MD, WA and OH) and each time have to produce the same documents-although the last time 4 years ago could use information from a prior licensure request to partially fulfill the documents required.

  3. As a military spouse and future BSW (finally graduating this year, a fight due to PCS) who has advocated for this for a long time, I felt unheard. I am so proud of this being a reality for all of us. It is so needed and I hope increased funding will be possible. This allows us to respond and strengthen our profession similar to our Canadian/European counterparts and those of other helping professions in the states.

    How do I sign up to help and be a part of this as directly benefiting from this? Let’s keep fighting.

  4. This is good news. Interstate licensure makes a lot of sense, especially as the ASW test for licensure is a national test. I am licensed in three states, and it seems to me that the requirement to have separate licenses is all about licensing fees and not about professional competence.

  5. Fantastic news , the shortage is bad enough but rural health will never catch up without this kind of advancement !

  6. This is a great idea, but I am wondering if doctors, lawyers, psychologists will want the same opportunity. It would be nice and of course, I guess we would have to pay a fee or the licensing board or state would have to develop a way for accountability or unethical practice in another state. Licensing requirement testing is also driven by money to help maintain the board.

    Keep me posted on the outcome

  7. Can we ensure social work boards meet state code? SC llr does not have the legal structure cited in the law.

  8. This is great news. I hope to see social work boards, LLR have and maintain a legal structure before this process. At present, the South Carolina Board of Social workers does not meet requirements set in the state code. The presidents term expired several years ago. The board does not have adequate representation of the profession and should not be involved in decisions regarding the future of our state.

  9. Christine Monteith, LCSW, LADC/MH

    This is an amazing opportunity, and one that is absolutely needed. I am excited and looking forward to this becoming a nationwide practice. Our field can benefit from this greatly, and clients would be so much better served.

  10. Michelle Lovelady-Smith

    This is outstanding. The social work field is far under paid compared to our colleagues in other areas. It makes it a financial challenge to maintain multiple licenses. I live in a tri-state area. I think this will open the doors for LSW/LCSW in that situation or for many other social workers to travel and hopefully for more rural locations to obtain quality providers in their catchment area.

  11. Sharon MacDougall

    The need for consistency in licensure for social worker is higher than ever given the rapid expansion of telehealth during the pandemic. Appreciate this moving forward to support the profession, providers, and payers to assure equitable standards across the Nation.

  12. Donnamarie Elcock

    this is a great oportunity for social workers..

  13. Hallelujah! it’s about time! This makes sense for this profession!
    Finally— social workers helping themselves as well as their clients.
    Tracey Hunter

  14. Pat Sutton, LCSW, ACM

    I agree this would be a benefit for all social workers. Those employed by National companies would be able to practice in multiple states without the need for licensure in each state. Those who live near state borderlines where they live in one state but drive to work in the bordering state would also benefit from interstate licensure.
    A concept whose time has come now that so much work is being done via teleconferencing.

  15. Susan Owen langley

    It is important that this Interstate Licensure Compact be implemented asap as it benefits Social Workers and clients who relocate to different states, want to continue with the social worker they were receiving counseling with. Hopefully many if not all states in the US will sign onto this Compact.

  16. Rosamelia Drake

    I am very happy this dream has come true.

  17. This is something that New Mexico is looking into. Is it possible to be a part of this effort?
    Karen Whitlock, MSW
    Government Relations/Lobbyist
    National Association of Social Workers – New Mexico

  18. As a sole practitioner there are times we struggle to maintain a caseload that will keep us afloat. The impact of this will allow us to reach clientele normally not open to us. As a veteran, and the spouse of a service man my career has been impacted negatively due to my spouses numerous deployments. We had to split the family up, so I could continue in my career. Which causes our difficulties for my family and my practice.

  19. How does one become a stakeholder or otherwise be involved in this project?

    Michelle Wexelblat, MSW, LICSW

  20. Ethan Israelsohn LCSW

    Social workers are falling behind such professions as psychologists, physicians, and nurses for whom there are expansive interstate compacts. I have personally experienced clients move to, or simply visit, other states that do not permit the practice of social work without a current social work license in their state. There are almost no states that provide for true reciprocity by which to acquire social work licensure, and the process of multi-state licensure is expensive and time consuming. I am so relieved to see this effort to establish an interstate compact for social workers.

  21. LaToshia Smith-Brown

    This is wonderful news.

  22. Thank you for allowing social workers to participate in an interstate compact agreement, I have a handful of patients who will really benefit from continuity of care. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help expedite the process.

    Thanks again,

    Jen

  23. Wanda B. Purcell

    This is long overdue! So glad the NASW, ASWB, and CSWA are collaborating on this initiative.

  24. Students should be allowed to take the test based on the last test score to obtain their license

  25. Nan Binder-Smith

    Portability of lincensure is a natural progression at this time when commerce , families , healthcare affiliates constantly are mobile.

  26. I could cry. This is wonderful news. It has been difficult to make a decision on where to practice as a result of the licensing process and now I don’t have to choose. I’m grateful that others are noticing the profession of Social Work and that we are finally getting our flowers in my opinion. Too often we are over looked as change agent’s and it brings me great joy that DOD thought of us.

    What a wonderful gift this news is, especially in the month of Social Work Appreciation. I can’t wait to share with my agency and colleagues.

    It is my hope that additional support services will be provided to Social Workers in the near future. I’m lobbying for free counseling, exam waivers, and increase in pay. We are true essential workers that diligently serve all mankind but, we need assistance as well life.

    I look forward to the many changes to come in the field of Social Work.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    Micole Foster, MSW
    Chief Officer, Social Work
    Society Inc
    Atlanta, Georgia

  27. great news! hope you can pull it off.

  28. What great news!!! This is long overdue, social workers have struggled through the arduous process of licensure in each state, managed each renewal process individually and often limited their practice due to borders. I’m really hoping to see PA, NJ, DE, NY, and MD get in on the COMPACT!
    For clinicians working in an agency who service the tri-state area, this will allow them to accept clients based on specialty rather than location. Very good news!

  29. The compact will not just benefit military spouses who are social workers. It will benefit all social workers seeking portability. Meaning, once a compact is in place, any social worker can pursue interstate practice portability within the states participating in the compact.

    NASW will be providing additional information soon, including responses to FAQs.
    We look forward to engaging with members and the social work profession in advancing this important effort.
    ——————————
    Anna Mangum, MSW, MPH
    Deputy Director, Programs
    National Association of Social Workers
    Washington, DC

    • I was very interested to hear about the Compact Project. Here is my story: I am a LCSW in the state of Louisiana. I moved to the State of Georgia after hurricane katrina. I pursued licensure in Georgia but was met with so many stumbling blocks. As my work in academia did not require the license, I focused on the program and my incredible students rather than continue the pursuit of a license in GA. After 12 years, my family moved to the State of Florida in 2017. I again looked into the licensing process here but was deterred with the process and possible expense. I have maintained the LCSW with the State of Louisiana. I hope that this compact will come to fruition and would like to hear more as it progresses. How can I stay abreast of the progress of the Compact Project and receive notification updates?

    • How will this impact insurance contracts that are state specific?

  30. Penelope Holloway

    Thank you fir this initiative. Please let me know what I can do to assist/ participate in this initiative.

  31. Want more information

  32. This is wonderful and long overdue. I’m not a Military Spouse but would be willing to help in this effort. It is needed for all Social Workers. Thank you to all those who are spearheading this endeavor.

  33. Supporting these developments.

  34. Id love tk give input. I got the BC-TMH board certification that counseling had developed because I was doing so much telehealth. I really think this is a game changer for the profession if we get it right

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