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January 30, 2024

Legislation to Boost Behavioral Health Care Workforce Clears Committee

DENVER, CO – The House Health & Human Services Committee today passed legislation sponsored by Representatives Emily Sirota and Matthew Martinez to expand access to behavioral health care in Colorado. HB24-1002 passed unanimously. 

“We need a robust behavioral health care workforce to meet the needs of Coloradans,” said Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver. “Social workers are critical to the success of our state’s overall behavioral health care system, and we must do everything we can to attract and retain these skilled workers. This bill creates a social work licensure compact, meaning social workers practicing in participating states can seamlessly transition to working and living in Colorado.”

“The demand for behavioral health care workers is rising in Colorado, so we are working to remove barriers that prevent qualified, licensed professionals from joining our workforce,” said Rep. Matthew Martinez, D-Monte Vista. “This bill would make it easier for licensed social workers practicing in partner states to obtain a license in Colorado, saving them money and meeting the needs of Coloradans faster. Additionally, this bill would support military spouses who relocate to Colorado by removing barriers to entering the behavioral health care workforce.” 

HB24-1002 would create new pathways for out-of-state social workers to gain professional licensure to practice in Colorado. This bill creates the "Social Work Licensure Compact", which creates an agreement between Colorado and six  other states where licensed social workers in member states can obtain and easily transfer a license from another member state. 

This legislation aims to reduce barriers for social workers by easing the state-to-state licensure process and increasing behavioral health care access in Colorado.  The “Social Work Licensure Compact" would be particularly helpful for active military and military spouses who often relocate from state-to-state. 

Colorado lawmakers have championed nine mobility compact laws over the years, including last year’s HB23-1064 to address Colorado’s teacher shortage.

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