Social Work Licensure Interstate Compact moves closer to floor vote

by | Jan 23, 2024



A House bill facilitating multistate practice for licensed social workers through an interstate compact has moved closer to a full floor vote, potentially easing national social worker shortages.


A piece of legislation that would allow licensed social workers who obtain a multistate license to practice across state lines advanced through its second committee stop last week, bringing it closer to a full House floor vote.

If enacted, Florida would become a member of the Social Work Licensure Interstate Compact. The agreement between participating states would permit licensed social workers to offer their services in any member state, including via telehealth. The bill introduces licensure categories – clinical, master’s, and bachelor’s – and establishes a shared data system for easier verification of credentials.

A secondary provision would allow active service members or their spouses to maintain their home state licensure.

The Compact will become operational once seven states join. Currently, only Missouri is an active member, but several states are considering similar legislation. Should Florida pass the bill and five additional states ratify companion legislation, its social workers will be able to practice in all member states, thereby broadening access to social and behavioral health services.

The initiative was drafted in response to a growing national demand for social workers, projected to escalate by 2030. In Florida, the licensure is overseen by the Department of Health, and the bill aligns with existing telehealth standards without affecting sovereign immunity.

“There are so many issues in today’s society that mandate social work intervention and yet we have a shortage of people qualified to provide these services. This compact will help increase Floridians’ access to quality care and social work services”, said Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, who filed the original bill in October.

The bill now moves to the Health and Human Services Committee, its final stop before heading to the full House floor for a vote.

According to the U.S. Social Worker Workforce Report Card, all 50 states are forecasted to experience a shortage of social workers in the coming years, with the number of states with shortage ratios more severe than the current national ratio will increase from 11 states in 2012 to 30 states by 2030. In totality, the nation will experience a total shortfall of over 195,000 social workers, with the most severe shortages occurring in the western and southern regions of the United States.

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