Montana has multi-tiered licensure!
In the 2019 Montana legislative session, the NASW Montana chapter played a key role in introducing and supporting multi-tiered licensure in Montana. Prior to the passage of this key legislation, Montana only had one licensure route for social workers - the Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Through legislative efforts and advocacy, multi-tiered licensure with three levels was established providing licensure routes for bachelor’s level social workers and master’s level social workers that are not following the clinical route.
NASW Montana’s primary goal with multi-tiered licensure is to enhance safety of the public through better accountability and regulation for all social workers. With Montana dealing with issues such as high suicide rates, addiction rates, and shortage of services and providers, we believe it is important to regulate the entire profession to ensure that Montanans engage with and receive services from competent social workers at all levels of service.
Social Work is a specialized profession with specific educational competencies and a strict code of ethics. When seeing someone titled a “social worker”, individuals should be able to have certain expectations specific to the education, training, and professional accountability of the worker. Multi-tiered licensure protects citizens against people who would represent themselves as social workers but do not have the training or education in the field and don’t necessarily understand ethical practice.
Multi-tiered licensure ensures that social workers at all levels have ample supervision before progressing to independent practice. Supervision to new practitioners serves to build competency in practice and offers support to new social workers that may be working in the hardest settings in the social work field. Supervision and support can help to reduce burnout, high turn-over rates, and most concerning, unethical and unsafe practice. Multi-tiered licensure provides an avenue through the Montana Board of Behavioral Health to regulate and act on ethical complaints when necessary.
It is our belief that multi-tiered licensure will help with workforce development for the State of Montana, addressing the need for qualified practitioners in social and behavioral services. Multi-tiered licensure serves to encourage and support social workers licensed in other states relocate to Montana, particularly when already licensed at a similar level, and encourages our qualified social workers to stay here in our great state.
What does this mean for social workers in Montana?
Any person engaged in the practice or provision of social work as defined in Montana (37-22-102) should obtain licensure at the BSW, MSW, or Clinical level. Persons that do not yet have the required hours of supervised practice should apply for a candidate level license.
NASW Montana is happy to support social workers who are going through this process. Feel free to email Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org or text/call 406-449-6208 for additional support.
For more information on licensure in Montana or to contact the Montana Board of Behavioral Health, click here: Montana Board of Behavioral Health