The Social Work
The Council of State Governments (CSG) is partnering with the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) with support from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA) to support the mobility of licensed social workers through the development of a new interstate compact. This additional licensing pathway will facilitate multistate practice among member states and reduce the barriers to license portability.
Frequently Asked Questions
An interstate compact is a constitutionally authorized, legislatively enacted, legally binding contract between multiple states.
Nine professions have active interstate compacts for occupational licensing:
- Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC)
- Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Compact (APRN Compact)
- Recognition of Emergency Medical Services Personnel Licensure Compact (The EMS Compact)
- The Physical Therapy Compact (PT Compact)
- The Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT)
- Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC)
- The Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact (OT Compact)
- The Counseling Compact
Compacts for teachers, cosmetologists, massage therapists, dentists and dental hygienists, school psychologists and dieticians and nutritionists are under development.
The Social Work Licensure Compact allows bachelors, masters and clinical social workers in member states to apply for an interstate compact license that provides a multistate authorization to practice in all compact member states. This allows a social worker to care for client located in any compact member state without having to go through each member state’s licensure process.
To be eligible, social workers must reside in a compact member state and maintain an active, unencumbered license.
An interstate compact license grants a regulated social worker authorization to practice in all compact member states
To qualify for an Interstate Compact License, a social worker who lives in a compact member state must hold an active, unencumbered license in their home state and satisfy the following requirements for one of the categories below:
Bachelor’s Social Worker
Bachelor of Social Work or higher from an accredited program
Bachelors-category national licensure exam
Master’s Social Worker
Master of Social Work or higher from an accredited program
Masters-category national licensure exam
Clinical Social Worker
Master of Social Work or higher from an accredited program
Clinical-category national licensure exam
3,000 hours or two years of full-time, post-graduate supervised clinical practice
A compact member state is any state that has enacted the Social Work Licensure Compact.
A home state is the compact member state where the social worker resides. The home state licensing authority issues and renews the interstate compact license.
A remote state is any other compact member state, other than a social worker’s home state. By obtaining an interstate compact license, a social worker has authorization to work in any remote state.
A social worker using the Social Work Licensure Compact to practice in any compact member state must abide by laws, regulations and scope of practice of the state in which the client is located.
No, the compact is limited to social workers who have an active, unencumbered license in their home state and fulfil the requirements outlined in FAQ #4.
As currently drafted, Section 4 of the compact requires licensees pass a Qualifying National Exam. Currently the only national licensing examination is produced and administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). To be eligible to use the compact, social workers must have passed the ASWB exam corresponding to the category of license sought. Social workers who have already passed the ASWB exam corresponding to the category of license sought will not be required to take an additional licensing exam.
Using the broad term, Qualifying National Exam, will provide the compact commission flexibility should social work licensing examination practices change in the future.
Social workers who earned their license before a qualifying national exam was required and have maintained an active, unencumbered license, may be eligible to participate in the compact if this alternative is authorized by rules of the Compact Commission.
An interstate compact license is renewed by the social worker through their home state licensing board in the same manner as the traditional single state license. To renew the interstate compact license, a social worker only needs to complete the continuing education required by the home state.
- Eliminates the need for social workers to hold licenses in multiple states
- Facilitates telehealth
- Support workforce needs across states
- Streamlines licensing administration for both licensing boards and licensed social workers
- Promotes continuity of care when social workers or clients relocate
- Allows social workers to expand services into new markets
- Promote uniformity of licensing standards
Interstate compacts must be passed by a state’s legislature and signed into law by the Governor for a state to become a member.
Later this year, The Council of State Governments (CSG) will provide additional information through a variety of channels to state officials interested in learning more about the Social Work Licensure Compact.
The stakeholder review process is a vital part of compact development, and anyone interested in the Social Work Licensure Compact is invited to participate. By reviewing the draft model legislation, attending a compact review session, and submitting feedback via the survey, individuals can help shape the compact to ensure it works best for the social workers, states, and clients.
When the review process is complete, CSG will publish educational materials to help stakeholders advocate for their state to join the compact.
Contributing Organizations and Stakeholders
In addition to the Association of Social Work Boards, the following organizations contributed to the development of the Social Work Licensure Compact:
- Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners
- Clinical Social Work Association
- Council on Social Work Education
- Idaho Board of Social Work Examiners
- Iowa Board of Social Work
- Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners
- National Association of Social Workers – Alabama
- National Association of Social Workers – Connecticut
- National Association of Social Workers – Minnesota
- National Association of Social Workers – Oklahoma
- New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensing and Certification
- New York General Assembly
- North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board
- Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers
- South Carolina Board of Social Work Examiners
- Tennessee Department of Health
- Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council
- Vermont Social Work Advisory Board
- Virginia Boards of Counseling, Psychology, and Social Work