Kentucky licenses social workers at three levels: Licensed Social Worker, Certified Social Worker, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. All candidates need to complete a qualifying education program and pass a licensing examination; the latter step is typically completed after application. The LCSW, an independent clinical license, also requires a period of supervised work experience.
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The prospective social worker will complete a degree at the bachelor’s or graduate level.
An LSW will need a degree at the bachelor’s level. The social work curricular standard is that of the Council on Social Work Education. Kentucky Administrative Regulations establish minimum requirements for equivalency. The individual will need coursework in five content areas. Among the core areas is human behavior and the social environment; here the student will need three credit hours of upper division coursework that builds on psychology and sociology (or six credit hours if this base is not established). In the area of social welfare, the individual will need three credit hours of upper division coursework that builds on economics and political science (or six credit hours if the student does not have this foundation).
The student is to have coursework in research. The practicum is to be at least six credit hours; the requirement is increased to nine credit hours if the student did not have lower division coursework in social work methods. Administrative regulation sets minimum standards for practicum supervision.
A CSW or LCSW will need a degree at the master’s (Master’s of Social Work programs in Kentucky) or doctoral level that is specifically in social work. The educational institutional will need to merit Board approval.
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The CSWE has provided a directory of accredited programs (https://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/Directory-of-Accredited-Programs.aspx).
Supervised Practice for LCSW Licensure
An individual who seeks clinical licensure will fulfill his or her supervised practice requirement while credentialed as a CSW. The supervisee will work as an employee during this time.
The CSW can meet the supervised practice requirement by working 30 or more hours a week for two years or 20 or more hours a week for three years. A social worker who is working fewer than 20 hours will not be able to accrue hours for clinical licensure.
The Board expects at least 60% of the credited work week to be spent working directly with clients. A supervisory contract will be submitted at the onset. One of the purposes is to ensure that the different parties involved (including agency supervisor and clinical supervisor) understand the requirements.
The CSW will need a total of at least 200 hours of supervision across the supervisory period. At least 100 of the supervision hours are to be individual. Some of the required supervision can be obtained through electronic means. The supervisee is expected to have at least two hours of supervision during each two-week period.
The clinical supervisor will be an experienced LCSW who has completed training and sought approval The Board has provided a list of professionals who have gone through the approval process.
Documentation is expected from each supervisor of record. The Board will seek a termination letter if the supervisee changes/ quits jobs or there is a change in supervision.
The social worker will continue to work under supervision until such time as the higher license has been issued.
An applicant who seeks credit for supervised experience in another state will be asked to provide document of supervisor qualifications.
Requirements are stringent for social workers who provide clinical services. There are situations where the CSW would not be able to accrue hours toward clinical licensure but would need a supervision contract.
The Examination Process
Kentucky, like other states, uses Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) licensing examinations. LSW candidates take the bachelor’s level examination. CSW candidates take the master’s level examination. Those who seek LCSW licensure eventually take the examination at the clinical level. Kentucky does not accept the ASWB advanced generalist examination.
Examination is completed after application. The candidate will receive an approval letter with instructions about scheduling an exam; exam scheduling is handled through a third party.
Candidates are allowed to test four to six weeks before graduation. The applicant will provide an unofficial transcript at the time he or she seeks permission (and an official transcript later).
The Application Process
Application forms can be found on the website of the Kentucky Board of Social Work (https://bsw.ky.gov/Pages/Forms.aspx).
The applicant will need to provide an official transcript showing conferral of the required degree.,/p>
The Board will seek a job description from all applicants even if they are not employed in the social work field.
The application fee is $25 at all levels. A licensing fee will be due later. This varies by level: $75 at the LSW level, $125 at the CSW level, and $200 at the LCSW level.
Applicants can be granted temporary permits for practice pending examination. There are two types: clinical and nonclinical. Forms for temporary authorizations are also available through the Board website.
Out-of-State Social Workers
Applicants who have been licensed in any other state will need to provide official verification.
For those seeking clinical licensure, the Board can accept documentation of active practice in lieu of supervised practice. Various kinds of documentation can be considered, including job descriptions, federal civilian employee forms, and letters of recommendation that establish dates and type of service. Details are included in the application packet.
Information is available from the Kentucky Board of Social Work (https://bsw.ky.gov/Pages/index.aspx). The Board can be reached at (502) 564-2350.
Requirements change periodically.