Licensure

2024 LBSW/LMSW Legacy Clause

HB499

During the 2023 Legislative session NASW Montana coordinated efforts to create a pathway for experienced social workers to gain their LBSW and/or LMSW with less burden. HB 499 was passed and signed into law May 22, 2023. The Montana Board of Behavioral Health passed an Administrative Rules Package that put this clause into effect late February, 2024. The Legacy Clause allows social work degree holders with at least 4,000 hours of historical social work experience, to obtain their Montana LBSW and/or LMSW without the need to collect supervision hours or pass an exam. Social Workers may apply using the Legacy Clause pathway until December 31, 2024.

Legacy Clause FAQ

What is the Legacy Clause?

The Legacy Clause is the result of HB499 which created a temporary pathway for experienced social work degree holders in MT to obtain their LBSW and/or LMSW without the need to collect candidate supervision hours or pass the ASWB exam.

What are the key eligibility requirements?

  • Verification of a BSW or MSW secured before 2020
  • A letter from employer(s) or supervisor(s) (on letterhead) verifying that you worked at least 4,000 Social Work hours between January 1, 2018 - January 1, 2023

How do I apply?

  • Visit the MT Board of Behavioral Health Website & start a new LBSW or LMSW application
  • When asked about “2,000 hours of supervision” select YES!
  • When asked about “taking the exam” select NO!
  • Complete the application otherwise as normal

How do I learn more or get support?

Email Nathan Stahley at nstahley.naswmt@socialworkers.org or contact the MT Board of Behavioral Health directly at (406) 444-6880 or DLIBSDHELP@MT.GOV

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. 

Securing your License in Montana

Any person engaged in the practice or provision of social work 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. Those with past experience can take advantage of a time-limited Legacy Clause mentioned above.

Contact Information

NASW Montana is happy to support social workers who are going through this process.  Feel free to email Nathan at nstahley.naswmt@socialworkers.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

Licensure Questions?

Here's a link to the Board of Behavioral Health (BBH) Administrative Rules (ARMs)

Here's a link to the BBH Homepage (where you can navigate to various applications)

Here's a link to supervision information for experience and qualified supervisors.

Here's a link to various BBH forms