Chapter Educates Social Work Leaders on Licensing in Aging, Child Welfare and Mental Health
Sunsetting of Licensing Exemptions Expected in 2010
Social workers are now required to be licensed in NY State with either the LMSW or the LCSW, and this is either already affecting your agency or it soon will.
Over the last two months, NASW-NYC convened a series of meetings with leaders in the top service delivery systems to deal with licensing issues. This is part of the Chapter’s continuing efforts to keep members current, to advocate for improvements, and to support an expanded professional workforce in the future.
Meetings have been held with leaders in mental health, child welfare, and aging to share information and to enable agencies, as well as each sector, to consider possible options. This advances the Chapter’s effort to support the desire for agencies to have qualified social work staff, and to increase awareness of what needs to be done to ensure any hurdles are minimized.
Existing issues affecting agencies include concerns about social work staff who are unable to pass the licensing exam or simply not attempting to obtain the license at all. In addition, some agencies have not been aware that almost all of their social workers must be licensed.
On January 1, 2010 the current exemption for all child welfare, mental health and a few other agencies will sunset, and agencies and their social workers will become responsible for complying with the law in those settings.
In addition, settings where there have not been exemptions (for example, hospital social work departments) have had to lay off staff who did not obtain the license.
There is also concern about whether licensing will exacerbate the existing shortage of social workers in some areas. Currently, there are not enough social workers in the field of aging, and licensing may contribute to the challenges. In addition, many social workers want to obtain the LCSW although many agencies do not see themselves providing clinical services.
NASW-NYC has been anticipating new issues that the various sectors need to be aware of before any new regulations are put into place. This includes the fact that the Office of the Professions within the State Education Department (SED) is tightening requirements for LMSWs to obtain their LCSW licenses. If agencies and programs within each sector have been or plan to offer opportunities for social workers to obtain their LCSW, it may become more difficult in the future.
The meeting convened by NASW-NYC served to help agency directors fully understand the requirements for licensing and how the State Education Department is likely to tighten requirements for obtaining the LCSW.
NASW-NYC understands that SED is already implementing new standards which will impact the profession.
NASW-NYC will be meeting with leaders in health care in early March.