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07/13/2024 12:31 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20230&cosponId=39454
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 23, 2023 02:27 PM
From: Representative Kristine C. Howard
To: All House members
Subject: Mental Health Access
 
A dire lack of access to mental and behavioral health treatment persists across the Commonwealth. Obstacles such as budget cuts, low wages, and high caseloads often lead to burnout amongst mental and behavioral health workers, making it difficult to prepare a sufficient workforce to meet the growing demand.
 
Ensuring these services are widely available is, as we are all well aware, imperative.
 
The pipeline of new recruits to the fields of social work and mental health services is sadly drying up. We must enrich the pool of new candidates. We must do this while maintaining standards of excellence, and should not consider changes that downgrade capabilities or qualifications, such as accepting bachelors’ degrees where Masters’ are currently required.
 
To help offset this worrying trend, I plan on reintroducing two pieces of legislation aimed at cultivating the next generation of mental and behavioral health workers.

The Social Worker Educational Enrollment and Training Program, otherwise known as SWEET (formerly HB 1926), would provide financial assistance to qualified individuals participating in internship placement programs, as long as they agree to continue practicing Clinical Social Work in areas across the Commonwealth suffering from a lack of mental health services.
 
Secondly, under the Behavior Welfare Educational Loan Lenience Program, BWELL for short (formerly HB 2091), students working towards a degree in behavioral health fields (social work, psychology, nursing, etc.) may be eligible for payment awards covering a substantial portion of their student loans if they agree to be employed at a residential treatment facility for a period of up to four years. The payments increase with each year an individual remains employed at the residential treatment facility, enabling adequate staffing in both entry-level and more specialized roles.
 
By enacting this and similar legislation, we can recruit, retain, and show continuous support for our behavioral and mental health workers across the Commonwealth, thereby ensuring no one goes without the help they need.



Document #1

Introduced as HB1349

Description: The first bill (previously HB1926) would provide financial assistance to qualified individuals participating in internship placement programs, as long as they agree to continue practicing Clinical Social Work in areas across the Commonwealth suffering from a lack of mental health services.
 

Document #2

Introduced as HB1350

Description: The second bill (formerly HB2091) would give current college students payment awards covering a substantial portion of their student loans if they agree to be employed at a residential treatment facility for a period of up to four years. The payments increase with each year an individual remains employed at the residential treatment facility, enabling adequate staffing in both entry-level and more specialized roles.