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5 things you didn’t know about renewing your NY social work license


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Continuing education requirements for New York social workers have  some pitfalls to trap the unwary. You may just be sorting through what, exactly, is required, and how to meet the standards for renewing your license.

To inform social workers about the regulations, the state prepared a list of questions and answers. (We have downloaded them into a more accessible and readable format in our FAQs section.) But here are five things that you should know right away, with links to the appropriate FAQ answer from the state licensing board.
Continue reading 5 things you didn’t know about renewing your NY social work license


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Where have we been for so long?


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This is an apologia rather than an apology. I started this site several years ago when it was apparent that finding continuing education was going to be a challenge for New York social workers. Until that time, New York social workers were not required to obtain continuing education. Much confusion abounded at the time (and possibly still does). I worked for a clinic in which senior management purchased courses from an unapproved provider and steadfastly insisted the courses would be approved for NY social workers (they weren’t, although I didn’t hear any sad stories of my colleagues being caught out when they relicensed). So this site was born and received some attention.

However, this was an incredibly tedious labor of service, costing time and money to build and maintain. While it would have been nice to come up with an ad-supported or membership model to sustain the costs, real life intruded. I switched clinics, took on a management role in another urban mental health clinic, then took on added responsibilities for supervision and administration. It was all too much. Letting the site languish may not have been the best course, but it was self-defensive.

Fast forward five years (!) and I have decided to take a look at the site. Stepping down from day-to-day clinic work, I have some time and I think it could still make a valid contribution, with appropriate features. So possible reboot!

As part of rebooting, I took a look at the primary data source: the listing at NYSED of approved providers. When I last posted in 2016, there were 265 providers in the list. Most recently, there are 570 listed. But what a mess! A continuous alphabetical listing of names, with nearly 60 listed as expired providers. There’s also the 260+ listed as only Live (In-Person) providers. Some of those (and some of the others as well) may only provide in-house training to their own staff, but if not, they are certainly not doing well since COVID-19 came on the scene.

So, as a data nerd, I feel I can restructure this data to be more useful. Search functions for type of trainings and proximity (although these seem less useful when the world has turned viral and virtual, but someday this will change back to some degree) are a baseline. How about allowing a review system for trainings? Maybe a handy flag system and email compilation of trainings with availability for last minute bookings?

I may also consider some basic member features to allow people to track their trainings and receive nudges for credits remaining. I know enough about human behaviors to have observed massive anxiety when people realize they have about 4 weeks left to complete 20 hours of training.

Finally, in scanning the NYSED site, I notice that the allied licensed professionals—LCATs, LMHCs, LFMTs and Psychoanalysts—are also required to accumulate continuing education hours. They have their own requirements and education providers. The cynic in me sees the monetary goal for NYSED (ka-ching!) of forcing multiple application fees for providers, but the social worker sees the value in also providing information for these professions.

Anyway, that is the goal for now. First, scrape off the barnacles and see if this will float.


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What SocialWorkCEUfinder.com Can Do For You


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Welcome to the Social Work Continuing Education Finder, a resource to support social workers throughout New York State with information intended to

  • help you locate convenient and cost-effective training
  • keep you on the right side of regulations
  • maintain your education records
  • save you money

This site is not associated with the State of New York, its Department of Education, or any providers of continuing education. It is created and maintained by social workers dealing—as you are—with the changing requirements to maintain licenses and practice in New York State.

Background

As of January 2015, social workers in New York State face a new hurdle for maintaining their licenses: obtaining continuing education credits before license renewal. The surprise is not that this is required, it is that it took so long to institute—more than 10 years after New York switched from the old certification system to licensing that relied on the national exams and more closely conformed with national standards. As with the earlier switch that caused many headaches, stops and starts, twists and turns, New York has gone its own way with continuing education. The result is nuances that can trip up the unwary social worker and cause confusion, uncertainty, doubt, anxiety and unnecessary expense.

The Office of the Professions has provided a series of webpages to explain the new requirements. Their basic statement is clear:

Beginning January 1, 2015, each Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) must complete 36 hours of approved continuing education courses for each triennial registration period. No more than 12 hours of continuing education activities in any 36 month period, or one-third of the total hours in periods of other length, may consist of self-study educational activities from New York State Education Department approved providers.

The state site provides a 40-question FAQ page, a list of approved providers of education, and instructions for becoming an approved provider. That is a lot of information to digest and much of it confuses rather than illuminates. For example, the list of providers at the time of writing is 82 organizations long, yet many on the list do not actually provide courses, seminars or workshops that the average social worker can attend. (For instance, they may only be for employees of that agency.)

How Social Work Continuing Education Finder can help

1. Browse our articles for basic information about the regulations

2. Dive into our database of courses approved for New York continuing education credit

3. Ask questions in the forums

4. Sign up to receive information about new courses and providers as they come online,

5. Inform your colleagues of education opportunities via social media or email.

Eventually, we will provide tools to help you maintain your records and track your progress, eliminating that last-minute panic as your deadline approaches.