Licensing social services workers

    Advocates want the Commonwealth to offer a license to workers who help Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents.

    Advocates want the Commonwealth to offer a license to workers who help Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents.

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    In Pennsylvania you don’t need a social work degree to get hired as a child or elder-abuse investigator, to work as a rape crisis counselor or in a domestic violence shelter.

    Mehnert: If you have taken four psychology, sociology, child development classes, all together, just four of them in your college experience, you are qualified to do incredibly challenging human services work, according to the state’s definition.

    Jenna Mehnert is executive director of the National Association of Social Workers.

    Her group is pushing for legislation that would allow workers with special training to distinguish themselves. Licensed workers would have to have a degree in a related field and pass a national exam.

    The license would not be required, but Mehnert says it might push Philadelphia or other social service providers to raise their standards, and only hire licensed workers.

    Mehnert says a licensing board would also give citizens a place to log their complaints.

    Mehnert: Just as we have the ability to do with an attorney or a lawyer or a manicurist or even our people who cut our hair there is somewhere to go.

    Lawmakers won’t take action this session, but a state House panel is set to discuss the issue on Friday.

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