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Social Work Regulators Adopt Licensure Endorsement as Cornerstone of Practice Mobility

Clear guidance for how to structure laws to move qualified social workers into the workforce with fewer barriers to practice

At the annual meeting of the Association of Social Work Boards, delegates of the social work regulatory boards in the United States and Canada voted to amend a section of their Model Social Work Practice Act to adopt a licensure by endorsement model for licensed social workers to obtain equivalent licensure in additional jurisdictions. What this change means for licensed social workers is fewer requirements at application and less time to get additional licenses. What this change offers to regulators and legislators is clear guidance for how to structure laws to move qualified social workers into the workforce with fewer barriers to practice.

"Licensure by endorsement offers a turnkey solution to the challenge of providing mobility to social workers while allowing regulatory boards to fulfill their mission of public protection," says Mary Jo Monahan, ASWB CEO. "In 2017 ASWB delegates adopted a resolution to implement social work practice mobility. This is an important step in that implementation process. By making this change in the model law, our members recognize that a licensed social work professional has already met public protection thresholds in another jurisdiction."

The new endorsement language includes two application steps: submission of an application with payment of fees and providing evidence of a current license in good standing, subject to disciplinary review and receiving endorsement by the licensing board.

ASWB offers mobility resources for social workers on MovingSocialWork.org, a website devoted to social work practice mobility. A recent post includes a list of states with links to information about applying for additional licenses.

Social work has adopted a model law to guide states' legislative efforts to achieve consistency of regulation from state to state. As the introduction to the ASWB Model Social Work Practice Act explains, greater consistency of terminology and laws "promotes increased public understanding of social work, and increased mobility for qualified social workers increasing the public protection benefits of increased understanding of social work practice and greater access to vital mental health practitioners and services. Standardization also promotes consistency in legal decisions related to licensure, renewal, discipline, and other board activities."

Source: Association of Social Work Boards