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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 4, 2022 11:00 AM
From: Senator Lindsey M. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Internship Stipends for School Counselors, Social Workers, Psychologists, and Nurses
I will soon introduce a bill to reduce the costs associated with become a certified school counselor, social worker, psychologist, or nurse in Pennsylvania schools.
At my recent Senate Democratic Policy Hearing on school staffing shortages, I heard testimony that school staff regularly juggle multiple jobs to pay down their debt – or too often, end up leaving the profession. I also heard about the desperate need for more school-based mental health professionals – something students regularly share with me as a top priority for them as well.
Unfortunately, for aspiring professional in these fields, it often costs more to work in schools than it does in other settings. For example, school psychologists must intern 1200 hours in schools while earning their degree. Other school-based mental health professionals have similar internship requirements. This on-the-ground training is vital preparation for working in schools but typically is unpaid and comes on top of other higher education expenses.  We should be incentivizing these professionals to work in schools, not deterring them.
Based off a successful program in Ohio, my bill would enable districts to pay prospective school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses a stipend during their internships. This will lower the barrier to becoming a school-based mental health professional and increase the number of caring adults in schools to support students now.  
Please join me in co-sponsoring this important and timely legislation.