gillespie 053121SPRINGFIELD – Two measures introduced by State Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) that would assist school social workers with earning their degrees and paying off their tuition advanced from both chambers of the General Assembly yesterday.

“These measures address both the student debt crisis and our shortage of professional, culturally competent social workers,” Gillespie said.

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 a primary focus in the upcoming school year.”

Both pieces of legislation now await the governor’s signature.