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Victory! Gov. Glenn Youngkin has signed Social Work Licensure Compact legislation (SB239), ensuring Virginia becomes the compact’s latest signatory of license mobility as of July 1. 

This is a huge victory for Virginia social workers and the NASW Virginia Chapter, which led the fight for passage of the compact and worked closely with sponsor Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D-Sen. District 15) to ensure successful guidance through the General Assembly. Hashmi’s own leadership and commitment inspired NASWVA to honor her as 2024 Legislator of the Year in March.

As background, the Social Work Licensure Compact will alllow Virginia social workers who have or are eligible for an active, unencumbered license to apply for a multistate license in other compact states. Senators and House delegates passed the bill February 27, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed it April 8 in his final flurry of signatures, amendments, and vetoes. 

“This victory has been a long time coming, but the chapter has been persistent and strategic in its efforts to educate policymakers on the issue,” said Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE. “I thank all of the Virginia social workers who contacted their elected officials, shared information, and advocated for license mobility. The compact is a win for all Virginians.” 

As a member of Gov. Youngkin’s Pillar 5 Workforce Development Working Group, Riggs has long witnessed the skyrocketing demand for behavioral and mental health treatment in Virginia, as well as the frustrating, harmful waits for available behavioral healthcare providers.  

This compact will help address that serious workforce shortage by boosting the number of licensed behavioral and mental health professionals who can practice in Virginia. It also will let qualified licensed Virginia social workers practice in fellow compact states, which will improve continuity of care to clients who move around and will open new markets in which to practice. 

Although seven to 10 states must sign the compact before its final language can be drafted for multi-state execution, NASW CEO Dr. Anthony Estreet predicted at the NASWVA and Metro DC Annual Conference March 22 that this requirement will be met by the summer. That would enable work to start this fall on execution. Twenty-six states now have compact legislation in progress.

“Thank you, Gov. Youngkin and every Virginia lawmaker who has shared our chapter’s goal to advance the social work profession and better serve the behavioral health needs of all Virginians,” said Riggs. “Our chapter will continue to advocate for evidence-based solutions to the state’s mental and behavioral health crisis.”           


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