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'You've earned it.' | Beshear announces pay increase for social workers, expedited hiring program

The immediate 10% pay increase begins on Dec. 16 for all social workers and family support staff across state government agencies.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — In an effort to increase recruitment and retention among state social workers, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced a pay increase and plan to recruit and retain more social workers.

The immediate 10% pay increase begins Dec. 16 for all social workers and family support staff across state government agencies.

It will be funded though the approximately $15 million in the existing budget.

"In the best of times, the work our social workers do is among the most challenging and necessary efforts anyone can undertake. During COVID, this work has been twice as difficult and even more needed," Beshear said in a press release. 

The pay increase will be provided to more than 3,900 employees, who can expect the increase to show up on their Jan. 15 pay stub.

"With the loss of so many great workers, we cannot wait any longer to take new steps to recruit and retain our social workers,” he said.

But Beshear said that while salaries are an important piece of the puzzle, they are "not the only piece."

RELATED: 'There is a critical need for social workers, especially in law enforcement': Hodgenville police adding social workers

Along with the pay increase, the governor also announced a new pilot program which will expedite the hiring process.

As part of the program, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is working to hire entry-level social workers and family support specialists within seven business days of applying.

"This is a major change -- it's light-years faster -- and represents a strong push to get more folks in and up-to-speed quickly," Beshear said.

The Kentucky governor said he will also propose a loan forgiveness program for the state's social workers in his upcoming budget proposal.

“Our social workers are supporting our families, and to do so successfully they need our support to receive the required training. A loan forgiveness program is simply the right thing to do,” Beshear said. “Our social workers and family support specialists are crucial front-line heroes that are helping us create the better Kentucky we all want.”

The governor said that these announcements would not have happened without the advocacy efforts of social workers and that the plan will be "more effective because the ideas came directly from Kentucky's social workers."

Beshear added that since social workers are front-line heroes, they would be included in any recommendation his administration makes on hero pay.

"You have more than earned it," Beshear said.

RELATED: First responders, nurses, corrections employees all ask to be included in Kentucky's bonus pay for essential workers

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