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FAQ from PDE regarding School Social Work Certification

Friday, October 08, 2021 11:01 AM | Christina Helfrick (Administrator)

School Social Worker certification FAQ

9.29.21

The following questions and answers provide general guidance to the new School Social Worker certification. If you have specific questions you can email those to ra-edcertquestions@pa.gov.

1. What is the difference between school social worker, school counselor and home & school visitor?

See the specific CSPGs for descriptions of each. CSPG 87 - School Social Worker, Educational Specialist Certificate PK-12; CSPG 76 – Elementary and Secondary School Counselor; CSPG 77 – Home and School Visitor.

2. How do I apply for School Social Worker certification?

Current applicants who meet the alternative equivalent requirements in CSPG #87 should see Submitting an Application in TIMS. NOTE: When prompted with the question, “Will a Pennsylvania institution verify that you meet certification requirements for the certificate you are applying for,” the answer is “no.”

3. Will this certification also apply to school social workers in public cyber schools?

Yes. The same rules apply.

4. Can a social worker with an active license apply for the School Social Worker certification if they were employed by a school district in a social worker role for one year REGARDLESS of their current employment status (as long as the employment was within the last 2 years) OR does the applicant need to be currently employed in a school social worker role to be grandfathered in ?

An applicant for the alternate equivalent route to School Social Worker certification set forth in CSPG #87 must hold a valid LSW or LSCW, be currently employed in a Commonwealth LEA and complete at least one year of satisfactory service as a school social worker or other titled position providing social work or social work-related services in a Commonwealth LEA within the two years prior to application.

5. May someone who is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or any other credentialed counselor or therapist who is currently working as a school social worker be eligible for the School Social Worker certification ?

No. Only applicants who meet the requirements for school social worker certification as set forth in CSPG #87 are eligible to receive a School Social Worker certificate.

6. How does the new School Social Worker certification impact an individual already employed in a position with a public school and performing school social work functions but is not titled as a school social worker? How will this impact their title and LEA hiring requirements? How will LEA compliance be ensured?

After August 31, 2023, individuals must be a PDE-certified school social worker to serve in a position of school social worker in a Commonwealth LEA. In addition, individuals who hold a LSW or LSCW, school social worker emergency permit issued by PDE and enrolled in a School Social Worker program may be utilized in the position of school social worker.

If an individual does not satisfy the requirements set forth in CSPG#87, districts should not utilize the individual in the position of “School Social Worker”. Districts that utilize individuals who are not appropriately certified to serve in the position of School Social Worker may be subject to subsidy withholding in accordance with state law.

7. If I currently have the Home and School Visitor (HSV) certification, am I able to also apply/transfer for School Social Worker certification (CSPG #201)?

Prior to August 1, 2023, an individual who holds a PDE-issued Home and School Visitor certificate and who satisfies the requirements of CSPG #87 may apply for and receive a School Social Worker certificate. Applicants for the alternate equivalent route to School Social Worker certification (regardless of whether they hold an HSV certificate) must be a licensed social worker (LSW) or licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), be currently employed in a Commonwealth LEA and have at least one year of satisfactory service in the position within the two years prior to application.

After August 1, 2023, the approved alternate equivalent pathway will expire and individuals holding an HSV certificate must complete a school social work program in order to obtain a School Social Worker certificate.

Conversion to a School Social Worker certificate is not required and HSV holders may continue to serve in the HSV position and perform the duties permitted an HSV in accordance with CSPG #77. However, HSV holders should not be titled as a school social worker unless they hold a School Social Worker certificate.

8. I currently hold a Level I HSV certificate. If I obtain the School Social Worker certificate will my certificates convert simultaneously to a level II?

Yes, if you serve as a school social worker and hold both certificates, the HSV certificate and the school social worker certificate will convert to level II simultaneously if all other Level II educational specialist requirements are met.

9. I currently hold a Level II HSV certificate, if I apply for and receive the school social worker certificate, will my School Social Worker certificate be issued as a Level II?

Yes. If an applicant holds an HSV certificate and meets all the requirements for school social worker certificate contained in CSPG #87 (holds a valid PA LSW or PA LSCW license etc.), the individual will receive a level II school social worker certificate.

10. I have been working as a school social worker successfully for many years and have completed induction and credits beyond my undergraduate degree. Can I apply for Level II if I have never had a Level I certificate?

No. In order to be granted Level II permanent certification you must have completed at least 3 years of satisfactory service on a Level I certificate in addition to completing other requirements (see Level I to Level II checklist). An educator cannot apply for a Level II unless they have worked on a Level I. {22 Pa. Code § 49.103}



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