Testimony on Raised Bill 6837: An Act Concerning the License Renewal Fee and Schedule for Licensed Clinical Social Workers and Licensed Master Social Workers and the Examination Requirement for Licensure of Master Social Workers

Public Health Committee

March 6, 2023

Submitted by: Stephen Wanczyk-Karp, LMSW

On behalf of the National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter the state’s largest social work organization, we urge support for bill 6837.

Section 1 (b) addresses the concerns regarding the current master exam of the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Data released in late 2022 indicated that the examination had both racial and age bias. Connecticut’s results found that 50.5% of Black test takers passed the exam on the initial try, 66% of Latino test takers passed on the first try and test takers age 40 and older had a higher failure rate than younger applicants. White applicants had the highest initial passage rate at 85%. Given this data we support suspension of the master exam for the Licensed Master Social Worker until April 1, 2026. This will give ASWB needed time to develop a more equitable exam or alternative pathway to licensure.

We are aware of individuals who seek complete elimination of the master exam, making the MSW degree the only requirement for issuance of the LMSW license. An argument for this is that the associate level license for marital and family therapist and professional counselors does not require an exam. A major difference exists with social work compared with these two professions in that not all MSWs come out of school with clinical training. The MSW degree includes concentrations in community organization, policy, and administration. Such graduates will be able to attain the LMSW, a clinical license for practice under supervision without passage of an exam that includes testing for clinical knowledge. While we recognize that the current exam has unacceptable disparities that demand it be suspended, entry into clinical social work is best served by a future examination.

Finally, we support a suspension of the master exam to increase the number of LMSWs in Connecticut at this time when a workforce shortage of licensed social workers exists. Connecticut has invested millions of dollars on increasing MSW student enrollment. This suspension will allow those graduates to enter the social work field upon graduation, while a more supportive process to assist exam takers and more equitable exam that best assesses the qualifications of MSW graduates for clinical practice is developed.

Section 1 ( c ) provides fee relief for LMSWs and LCSWs by reducing the renewal fee from $195 to $100. CT has the highest social work licensure fees of any jurisdiction in the United States. This reduction in fee will put Connecticut in the mainstream amongst states in relation to the cost of renewing a social work license. When our state ran high deficits licensure fees were increased. It is only fair that now with a significant surplus that the fees are rolled back.

Section 2 (7) addresses the problem of annual renewal of license. Connecticut is one of only 6 states that renew social work licenses annually. Forty-one states have two-year renewals and three states have 3-year renewals. Connecticut being an outlier has greatly contributed to Connecticut having the highest annualized licensure fees of any jurisdiction in the United States. New licensee’s renewal their license for the first time on the month of birth, which means very few have a full 12 months after initial license issuance before they must renew the license at $195. The combination of the application fee of $220 for the LMSW and $315 for the LCSW makes for a very costly first year of licensure.

NASW/CT thanks the members of the Public Health Committee for raising bill 6837. Social workers have met the call for meeting the dramatically increased, Covid driven needs for mental health care, while facing their own Covid challenges. Bill 6837 goes a long way in saying thank you to the one profession that provides approximately two-third of all behavioral health services in Connecticut.


  1. Haley McDonald says

    Extensive research has shown there are clear racial, age, language, and socio-economic biases in the ASWB examinations. I am in support of suspending the exam until these unacceptable disparities can be appropriately addressed. Furthermore, this is will reduce barriers for many potential social workers entering the field.

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