Villa measure removing language barriers for licensing exams passes Senate

SPRINGFIELD – A measure championed by State Senator Karina Villa that would secure reasonable accommodations during licensing exams for individuals whose primary language is not English passed the Senate on Thursday.

“More than ever, our communities are in need of behavioral health professionals who can communicate with clients in different languages,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “Empowering more bilingual individuals to pursue these professions will help improve the quality of care provided across the state.”

House Bill 5457 would codify accommodations that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is required to provide under the Americans with Disabilities Act for individuals whose primary language is not English. The measure would apply to licensure exams for social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional counselors.

According to the Behavioral Health and Economics Network, over 4.8 million Illinois residents live in a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area with only 13.8 behavioral health care professionals per every 10,000 residents.

“The need for more behavioral health professionals is clear,” said Villa. “By removing language barriers for licensure, we are ensuring that more qualified individuals are able to provide services to individuals in need.”

House Bill 5457 passed the Senate on Thursday.