Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: October 26, 2022
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Christian Martinez,

Governor Glenn Youngkin Announces Accelerated Social Worker License Process

Process will help attract social workers from other states to relocate and work in Virginia

RICHMOND, VA — Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced that the Virginia Board of Social Work, a health regulatory board under the Department of Health Professions, has enacted regulations that will speed up the process by which a social worker from another state can receive a license in Virginia.

The changes to Virginia’s Social Work Regulations will allow a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Licensed Master’s Social Worker, or a Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker licensed in another state to obtain a license in Virginia by:

  • Providing verification that they have a license in good standing in another state,
  • Providing verification of passing the examination at the same level that they are seeking licensure for in Virginia.

These regulations also simplify the process for social workers with an expired or inactive Virginia license to regain their license and re-enter the workforce.

“There is a critical shortage in Virginia of mental health professionals, and this is a significant step by the Board of Social Work to help address this shortage," said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “A priority of my administration is to reduce state regulations and regulatory barriers, and this action shows how regulations can be streamlined to remove barriers to practice with the goal of bringing more mental health professionals to the Commonwealth.”

“The Board of Social Work has taken an important step in helping other agencies address their behavioral health workforce needs,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources John Littel. “The shortage of behavioral health professionals is especially acute in rural and underserved areas of the Commonwealth. This action sets a good example for other health regulatory boards in eliminating unnecessary requirements for licensure.”

“We've heard how hard it is for social workers who move to Virginia to get licensed, and we thank the Board of Social Work for this important change," said Nelson Smith, the Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. “Our plans to strengthen the behavioral health workforce include strategies like this to retain staff, attract more workers, and build a pipeline for the future."

“I am very pleased that the Board of Social Work has taken this step. The Board is helping address the critical need for mental health professionals, while maintaining the accountability that comes from requiring a state license,” said Board of Social Work Executive Director Jaime Hoyle.

A 2021 report by the Virginia Health Care Foundation, Assessment of the Capacity of Virginia’s Licensed Behavioral Health Workforce, noted that Virginia ranks 39th among states for access to mental health care, and that 93 of Virginia’s 133 localities are federally-designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas; 37% of Virginians (3.2 million) live in them. Two localities have no licensed behavioral health professionals; 35 have no trained behavioral health prescribers.

The Board of Social Work is one of 13 health regulatory boards within the Virginia Department of Health Professions, an executive branch agency under the Secretary of Health. The mission of the Department of Health Professions (DHP), an executive branch agency under the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, is to ensure safe and competent patient care by licensing health professionals, enforcing standards of practice, and providing information to health care practitioners and the public. DHP licenses, certifies or registers over 400,000 health care practitioners and facilities.

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