Governor Signs Bill Addressing Shortage of Social Workers

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SACRAMENTO — On Monday, Governor Brown signed AB 456, authored by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, (D-Richmond), which removes barriers that impede clinical social workers from advancing into their careers and providing services. The bill passed out of both Legislative houses with bipartisan support.

“California has a shortage of mental healthcare workers,” said Thurmond a former social worker of over twenty years. “This bill will remove unnecessary bureaucratic barriers that prevent social workers from providing services upon graduation with a Masters in Social Work. By allowing graduates to more easily enter the profession, this bill helps bolster our state’s mental health workforce.”

The removal of barriers into the public mental health workforce has been recognized as a priority by the state. One persistent barrier is the length of time between graduation from an accredited school of social work and the issuance of a registration number by the Board of Behavioral Sciences, which allows social work graduates to begin providing clinical services.

Many organizations in need of licensed social workers are unable to hire graduates without a registration number as they cannot bill for the graduate’s services. This delay creates an increase in caseloads for existing clinical staff due to unfilled vacancies, which creates a backlog for those in need of critical services.

AB 456 will reduce the time it takes for social workers to begin providing services; removing unnecessary barriers to employment and clinical practice.

This bill is sponsored by the National Association of Social Worker (California Chapter), Seneca Family Agencies, and Lincoln Families, and is supported by the Board of Behavioral Sciences.

Assemblymember Tony Thurmond represents the 15th Assembly District, comprised of the cities of Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville, Hercules, Kensington, Piedmont, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, Tara Hills, and a portion of Oakland.


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