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National Association of Social Workers says funding issues leading to delay in licensing

Local social workers say it’s taking months to get a license.
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 10:47 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The National Association of Social Workers Texas is seeing a link between a lack of funding and COVID-19 impacting licensing for social workers.

Will Francis, Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers Texas, says this issue with funding and employment was happening before the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were already in a major backlog, so we already saw some delays. We were actually moving towards getting better, but then COVID-19 came. That put that at a stop. It decreased their ability to work over time. Some of them didn’t have laptops and that sort of made us take a step back,” said Francis.

Bryan resident Alexya Drummond was set to take her licensing exam in March, but that all changed when COVID-19 shut down most of the city. She took her test in May. She says she finally got her license Tuesday, more than four months later.

“It hinders us from helping the people that need our services because we are specifically trying to help them with things they have to go to the police for or have to go to the fire department for," said Drummond. "The fire department does the best they can, but they’re not trained in knowing people the way that we are supposed to know people.”

Francis says because of this backlog, potential social workers who are deemed essential personnel are sitting on the sidelines during the pandemic.

“They are seen as a vital part of the COVID-19 recovery and beyond that, they fill so many roles in our communities,” said Francis. “They work in mental health, they work in child welfare, they work in our community hospitals, as well as in clinics. Some of them are in our schools. They’re literally so many different places.”

Francis says there are 200 out of the 254 counties in the state that are experiencing a mental healthcare shortage, including Brazos County.

“If the lack of a license is what is preventing them from getting the most qualified personnel, then this is a major issue that we hope our governor and our Texas Legislature really take a strong look at,” said Francis.

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