Social Work Licensure Portability: A Necessity in a Post-COVID-19 World

Nov 10, 2022

social work journal cover

COVID-19 highlights the need for portability of social work licensure to be a priority. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) spearheaded some initiatives, such as the creation and promotion of the Social Work Registry and Model Social Work Practice Act, with the hope that these efforts would enhance the ability of social workers to be licensed in multiple states. Neither has solved the portability problem. Licensure endorsement, an approach historically supported by ASWB, does not have the advantages of mutual recognition that is being supported by other professions to facilitate interstate practice.

In the October 2022 issue of the journal Social Work, co-published by NASW and Oxford University Press, an article titled “Social Work Licensure Portability: A Necessity in a Post-COVID-19 World”. This article, the first written on licensure portability in the social work scholarly literature, examines existing licensure portability models and supports the establishment of a social work interstate compact to overcome barriers to social work mobility and access to client care.

The author writes:

The pandemic created a new practice landscape characterized by telehealth and geographically dispersed clients. The social work profession must be able to operate efficiently and effectively in this environment. Change in social work regulation was already needed, and business as usual is no longer acceptable. Proceeding forward on the licensure portability continuum toward mutual recognition is no longer an option but a necessity for social work practice in a post–COVID-19 world.

Article author

Dawn Apgar, PhD, LSW, ACSW, assistant professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice, Seton Hall University.

The journal Social Work is a benefit of NASW membership. It is available online or, at a member’s request, in print. Children & Schools, Health & Social Work and Social Work Research are available by subscription at a discounted rate for NASW members, either online or in print.

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