The Kentucky Board of Social Work issues licenses at three levels: Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Certified Social Worker (CSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
A CSW has education at the master's level and may practice independently within his or her scope of practice. A CSW may only practice clinical social work under board-approved supervision. After a period of supervised work experience, the CSW can move up to LCSW status. An LCSW is authorized for independent practice of clinical social work.
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There is more than one path to licensure as a Kentucky LSW. One is a bachelor's degree from a CSWE-accredited social work program. The other is a bachelor's degree from another program, plus additional coursework as required for equivalency. The candidate must have at least three upper division units in human behavior with an emphasis on psychosocial aspects (six if the LSW candidate doesn't have a foundation in psychology and sociology). He or she must have three upper division units in social welfare (or six if he doesn't have a foundation in economics and political science). The student will need at least six units of social work practicum (or nine if he or she doesn't have lower-division courses in social work methods) and an educational practicum that meets Board requirements. The LSW candidate will also need a relevant research course.
A candidate must also pass the bachelor's level examination given by the Association of Social Work Boards.
Licensure at this level requires a master's or doctoral degree from an approved institution. The prospective social worker must also pass the ASWB master's level examination. AN LCSW candidate may practice social work under a temporary license while waiting to take and pass the examination. However, the candidate will not be able to accrue the supervision hours that will eventually be required.
You may also want to read the article "Master’s Degree in Social Work: Developing Skills and Competencies" if you have any questions about Master's of Social Work programs.
After licensure as a CSW, the social worker will work under supervision for a period of two to three years. The CSW may opt to work 30 or more hours a week and complete requirements in two years. One may opt to work as few as 20 hours a week and stretch the requirements over a three year period. During this time, he or she will be under the professional guidance of a board-approved supervisor.
The CSW must have supervision/ consultation for at least two hours every two week – 200 hours over the course of the supervision period. Up to 100 hours may take place in a small group setting. Supervision must focus on content areas mandated by the Board. These include the diagnostic process, the use of treatment plans, and the handling of ethical issues, among others.
The supervisor must be a clinical social worker in good standing who has met the Board's experience and training requirements. A social worker who is doing his or her supervised practice requirement in another state but intends to become licensed in Kentucky should still make sure their supervisor has at least three years of experience beyond that required for a clinical social work license. If the supervision will take place in Kentucky, the supervision contract must be approved by the Kentucky Board beforehand.
The social worker in training must provide certain information to their clients, including contact information for their supervisor.
A certified social worker must get Board permission before engaging in supervised clinical social work activities that do not meet experience requirements for the higher license.
Licensure as an LCSW is dependent on passing the ASWB clinical examination.
There is a $25 fee associated with application (at any level). Official transcripts are required.
After passing the exam, a candidate should send the licensing fee and unofficial score report to the Board.
Kentucky issues temporary clinical and non-clnical permits for up to 240 days while the candidate is completing examination requirements.
Applicants from out of state should provide documentation of supervised experience. If a candidate has been in active practice as a clinical social worker for the five years prior to application, the Kentucky Board will accept that in lieu of demonstrating that his pre-licensure supervision met Kentucky standards.
Applications can be found on the Board site (Click Here for the CSW, LSW and LCSW application forms).
Licenses are renewed every three years. The amount of continuing education required depends on licensing level.
If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, or hold a bachelor's degree, check out suggested steps to take along the path to become a Social Worker in Kentucky.