Draft Interstate Compact for Social Work – 9 Key Points and How You Can Participate


by Linda May Grobman, MSW, ACSW, LSW

     Practice mobility is an issue that has been on the minds of social workers for a long time. Now, there is a proposed interstate licensing compact that addresses these issues. The draft compact has been developed with the input of major social work organizations (including NASW, CSWA, CSWE, and ASWB), state social work licensing boards, and other stakeholders.

     What is an interstate compact? In essence, it is an agreement between states to “cooperatively address shared problems,” according to the Council of State Governments (CSG). There are many examples of interstate compacts, including compacts related to driver’s licenses, child placement, and mental health.

     The CSG website reports that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is partnering with CSG “to fund and support the development of new interstate compacts for occupational licensure.” Social work is one of eight professions that have interstate compacts under development as of this writing in August 2022, including school psychologists, teachers, and others. Nursing, counseling, and seven other professions already have interstate compacts in place.

     In the case of an interstate compact license for social workers, a social worker would be able to receive a license in one state, and that license would be recognized by other states who are members of the compact. The draft social work compact starts out with a Purpose section, followed by definitions, state participation requirements, regulated social worker participation requirements, obtaining a new home state license based on an interstate compact license (for those who move from one member state to another), military families, adverse actions, and other sections.

Key Points of the Interstate Licensing Compact for Social Workers

     The Council of State Governments (CSG) is holding weekly online review sessions to educate social workers and other stakeholders about the draft interstate compact for social workers, which is in Phase 1 of three phases of development. The draft is available for public review and comment prior to finalization of the compact language.

     I attended the review session on August 1, 2022, presented by Matt Shafer and Keith Buckhout of CSG. This webinar provided a wealth of information about the draft interstate compact for social workers.

     Here are eight key points about the social work interstate licensing compact that I took away from this review session.

  1. The interstate compact would facilitate mobility of regulated (licensed) social workers by authorizing the social worker who holds an interstate compact license in a member state (the “home state”) to practice social work in all member states (“remote states”).
  2. State participation in the compact would be voluntary/optional. A social worker with an interstate compact license would only be authorized to practice in the states that have opted in to the compact.
  3. When practicing telehealth services, the social worker’s scope of practice would be determined by the laws of the state in which the client is located when receiving services. In other words, if you are located in Pennsylvania and providing telehealth to a client who is located in Kentucky at the time of service, you are practicing in Kentucky and must abide by Kentucky licensing laws and regulations.
  4. Renewal requirements for the interstate compact license, such as continuing education, would be determined by the laws/regulations of the social worker’s home state.
  5. Obtaining a social work license when moving from one member state to another member state would be simplified.
  6. A remote member state can take “adverse action” against a licensed social worker with an interstate compact license, but only the social worker’s home state can revoke the license.
  7. For a state to join the compact, that state’s legislature must pass the compact statute and enact it into state law.
  8. The compact will go into effect once seven (7) states have joined the compact by enacting it into law.

 Take Action

    For more information about the interstate licensing compact for social workers, see the Council of State Governments Social Work Compact web page. To participate in the next steps of the compact’s development:

Linda May Grobman, MSW, ACSW, LSW, is the founder, publisher, and editor of The New Social Worker.

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