IL Sen Gillespie moves to address school social worker shortage
Updated: Apr 22, 2021
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Below is an update reprinted from the Illinois Senate Democrats website which provides update on two of NASW-IL‘s priority bills SB661 and SB662, bills both mentioned in our recent spring 2021 NASW-IL Advocacy Update.
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS – Two measures introduced by State Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) that would assist school social workers with earning and paying off their degrees passed in the Senate Higher Education Committee on Tuesday.
“Illinois schools face a shortage of professional, culturally competent social workers,” Gillespie said. “We must make it easier for our future social workers to finish and pay off their education so that schools can hire the positions they desperately need to fill.”
Senate Bill 661 would require the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) to award up to 250 Post-Master of Social Work Professional Educator License scholarships each year. Scholarship recipients would be required to work at a public or not-for-profit P-12 school in Illinois for at least two of the five years immediately following their graduation.
Senate Bill 662 would require ISAC to consider up to $6,500 in loan repayment assistance to borrowers with loans related to a degree in social work. Recipients must be employed at a public elementary or secondary school in Illinois for at least one year.
Both of Gillespie’s proposals would grant priority to underrepresented groups in the school social work field.
“As students return to in-person learning after over a year of remote classes, the need for social workers is more critical than ever,” Gillespie said. “Student mental health must be our primary focus in the upcoming school year.”
Both pieces of legislation now await consideration before the full Senate.