Kansas becomes seventh state to enact the Social Work Licensure Compact, triggering implementation of multi-state licensure for social workers

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Along with legislation previously enacted in Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Washington, the Compact now has the seven states required to stand up a Commission.

With the signing of the Social Work Licensure Compact legislation by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, Kansas becomes the seventh state to join the Social Work Licensure Compact. Kansas joins Missouri, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Kentucky and Virginia as a founding state for this new interstate compact.

Map of U.S. states and territories showing the status of the social work licensure compact legislation. Washington state, Utah, South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia are shown in dark blue because they have adopted the compact. Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana are shown in light blue to indicate that compact legislation has been introduced in the legislature. The remainder of the states and territories are gray, indicating no action on the compact has been taken.

“Developing and passing the Compact has been a multi-year process,” says ASWB Senior Director of Member Engagement and Regulatory Affairs Jennifer Henkel, MSSW, LCSW. “The extensive cooperation across the social work profession is an indicator of how important this Compact will be for social workers and the clients they serve.”

The Compact was developed through a cooperative effort among social work organizations, led by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) and the Council of State Governments (CSG). Creation of the Compact legislation was funded by a grant from the United States Department of Defense. Finalized in February 2023, the Social Work Licensure Compact was introduced in several states during the 2023 sessions, with Missouri becoming the first state to enact the legislation in July 2023.

Over the next several months, the seven member states will nominate delegates to the Social Work Licensure Compact Commission. If additional states enact the Compact legislation during this time, they will be able to appoint founding delegates to the Commission as well.

“Forming the Compact Commission is a critical step in getting the Compact up and running, but there is a lot of work that will need to be done before multi-state licenses will be available,” says CSG’s Deputy Policy Director Matthew Shafer. “CSG will continue working with states who join the Compact and stakeholders in the social work profession to develop processes, policies, and systems to ensure that social workers have professional mobility without compromising the safety and quality of their practice.”

The Compact Commission will convene in late 2024 to draft its rules and bylaws. The Commission will oversee operations of the Compact and develop the data systems to support multi-state licensure.

“Standing up the compact marks a major milestone for our profession toward meeting the needs of a rapidly changing, increasingly mobile world,” says ASWB Chief Executive Officer Stacey Hardy-Chandler, Ph.D., JD, LCSW, PGDip. “The key benefit to us all is access — increasing people’s access to social workers and expanding social workers’ access to broader communities.”