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Social Workers Want Expanded Licensing of the Profession

More than 600 social workers gathered in Harrisburg to call for the passage of Senate Bill 922, which would provide state licenses for social workers with bachelor's degrees.

SB 922 would create "practice protection," ensuring licensed professionals meet certain criteria.

Pennsylvania State Senator John Blake (D-Lackawanna County), a co-sponsor of the bill, said 43 states have "practice protection" legislation, while 34 issue licenses to social workers with a bachelor's degree.

"Someone represents to a client, a customer, a consumer that they are licensed social workers, there is some power behind that communication in terms of the education, the credentials, the training, the continuing education, and the certificates that these individuals have achieved," Blake said.

Blake said since the bill defines what a social worker is, it allows the profession to better police itself to weed out non-professionals.

He said while the state currently provides licensure to social workers with a master's degree, it's not enough.

"This particular bill would touch back and allow the horizon of licensure to include baccalaureate social workers who are providing generalized social work throughout the state," Blake said.

Blake said Pennsylvania has the second most practicing social workers and social workers educated in-state.

SB 922 was has been stuck in committee since last April. Blake said it might have been held up due to a change in administration in the Governor's office.