Rhode Island licenses clinical social workers. One has to hold a state license to practice clinical social work or use any of the protected titles referenced in state code, though some exemptions are noted.
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Clinical social work is a graduate level profession. There are two levels of licensure: Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. In Rhode Island, unlike many other states, the title Licensed Clinical Social Worker is used for the lower of the two licenses. A person can achieve the LCSW after meeting education and experience requirements. The LCSW will achieve LICSW status after completing additional supervised work experience.
Social Work Educational Foundations
In Rhode Island, social workers can be licensed on the basis of master’s or doctoral degrees. Master’s degrees are to be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (Master’s of Social Work programs in Rhode Island). Doctoral degrees are to be housed in accredited colleges or universities. (This level of education is outside CSWE focus.)
Rhode Island utilizes examinations administered by the Association of Social Work Boards. The candidate will take an examination for the first time at the LCSW level. At this stage, the masters level ASWB exam is the standard; it may be referenced as the intermediate level exam in older documents. The individual can receive examination permission by submitting a license application. Once permission has been granted, the candidate will register with the ASWB and pay fees. The current dee is $230 at the masters level. Examinations are available by appointment at sites around the nation.
The ASWB clinical exam is required for licensing at the LICSW level. Procedures are similar. The fee is slightly higher: $260.
Rhode Island allows three examination attempts without imposing additional requirements; until this time, re-examination is subject only to wait times imposed by the ASWB. A candidate who must retake an examination is required to pay an examination fee each time. After three failures, a candidate would be required to appear before the Board.
Supervised Experience Requirements for Independent Clinical Licensing
In order to progress to the LICSW level, a social worker needs at least 24 months of qualifying experience. He or she will need to accrue at least 3,000 post-master experience hours. Rhode Island mandates that at least 1,500 hours be spent in the direct provision of clinical social work services. Supervised experience requirements are to be met within a six year period.
At least 75% of the supervision hours are to be individual.
Supervision is to conform to the following minimum standards:
- An hour of supervision for every 20 direct client contact hours
- Two hours of supervision every two weeks
Additional Licensing Requirements
State regulations also mandate good character. Licensure will be denied on the basis of past felony conviction or disciplinary sanction by another state board unless a waiver is granted. In order to be granted a waiver, an individual needs to provide satisfactory evidence that he or she would practice in a manner that upheld public safety.
The minimum age for licensure is 21.
Endorsement of Out-of-State Social Workers
Applicants must provide verification from all states where they have held licensing. If the license verification includes ASWB test scores, these can be accepted. Otherwise, the applicant will contact the ASWB for official score verification.
Current out-of-state licensees can be endorsed into Rhode Island if they hold comparable licenses and have met substantially equivalent requirements.
The Application Process
Applications can be found on the website of the Rhode Island Department of Health (http://health.ri.gov/licenses/detail.php?id=245#).
Applicants are to include a fee of $70.
They will need to document citizenship or lawful residency.
The licensing agency will need two professional references. Reference forms can be found in the application packet. The licensing agency can accept them from the applicant if they are presented as described in the application packet in sealed, signed envelopes.
A practice form is due at the LICSW level. A supervisee who had more than one supervisor will need one from each.
The applicant will attach a small photograph to the application and have the form notarized.
Materials are to be submitted at least 30 days in advance of a Board meeting,
The licensing agency notes that an applicant should allow at least four to six weeks for the licensure process to be completed. It may take significantly longer if there is criminal history or other adverse history to review.
Currently, licenses expire on odd-numbered years. Social workers attest to having met a continuing education requirement.
Baccalaureate Level Social Work Practice
Although Rhode Island does not license social workers below the master’s level, bachelor’s level social workers are trained and employed within the state. They are allowed to carry out a number of social work functions that are not considered to be clinical practice; these are summarized briefly in state code.
Information is available from the Rhode Island Department of Health (http://health.ri.gov/licenses/detail.php?id=245). Individuals with question about the licensing process can call (401) 222-2828.
Procedures are subject to change.