California governor signs bill to address social worker shortage
Last month, Governor Brown of California signed bill AB 456 into law, which will remove some of the barriers in place that prevented social workers from providing services upon graduating with a master’s degree in social work, according to a press release from the bill’s author, Assembly Member Tony Thurmond.
The legislation effectively shortens the length of time between graduating from an accredited school of social work and being issued a registration number by California’s Board of Behavioral Sciences. Without a registration number, social workers cannot be hired and billed for services. According to the press release, this delay was contributing to an increase in caseloads and backlog for existing clinical staff because of unfilled vacancies.
The legislation changes the timeframe for registering with the Board and gaining the required hours of supervised clinical experience. It also allows for preregistered postdegree hours of experience to be credited in certain circumstances. The legislation also reduces the number of postdegree hours of supervised experience required to be licensed as a clinical social worker from 3,200 to 3,000.
The bill was sponsored by the National Association of Social Worker (California Chapter), Seneca Family Agencies, and Lincoln Families, as well as the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.