Social Work Profession Awarded Federal Grant to Develop Interstate Licensure Compact

Mar 26, 2021

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.