LEGISLATIVE NEWS: Senate Passes Bill Enabling Multistate Licensing for Social Workers

OLYMPIA – Washington is experiencing a critical time where access to mental health care is more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing mental health challenges, leaving many individuals struggling to find the support they need.

Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines), who also introduced and passed the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline, introduced House Bill 1939 to address this issue by increasing the social work workforce in Washington. The legislation focuses on streamlining the licensing process for out-of-state social workers and could revolutionize the way social work services are delivered across the state.

Under the Social Work Licensure Compact, licensed social workers would be allowed to practice in multiple states with a single, multistate license. The compact will enable social workers to readily deploy across compact states in times of crisis, providing vital support to those in need.

It further empowers military spouses who are licensed social workers, who will be able to continue practicing seamlessly if they are transferred to Washington.

“Thousands of Washingtonians currently lack access to critical social work services,” said Rep. Orwall. “Expanding our workforce is critical for responding to persons in crisis with tools like the 988 lifeline.”

“By ensuring that families in Washington have access to the qualified and compassionate care, we strengthen our communities and improve the lives of countless individuals,” added Rep. Orwall.

HB 1939 positions Washington as the third state with a social work licensure compact. Today, the Senate unanimously voted to pass this bill. It now heads to the governor’s desk.