In response to the recent discovery that Illinois school districts have hired individuals as school counselors without the proper licensing and certification, State Sen. John F. Curran (R-Downers Grove) sponsored an initiative to protect the mental health of students and ensure only licensed school counselors may provide these crucial services.
“Licensed school counselors are highly qualified and certified to counsel our students and children with good reason. They are handling sensitive and vital issues, including young people’s mental and emotional health and guiding their professional and academic futures,” said Curran. “It’s important we continue to encourage students to feel comfortable seeking counseling and help them work through issues that they are experiencing inside and outside of school—this is a pivotal time in their lives and should be handled cautiously and by qualified school counseling professionals.”
With support from the Illinois School Counselor Association and the Illinois Mental Health Counselors Association, House Bill 4514 asserts that if a school district is hiring someone with the title “school counselor,” they must be certified and endorsed as a school counselor—with a Master’s degree in school counseling, 600 hours of teaching experience, appropriate casework and service experience and passed the required school counseling examinations. They have been thoroughly trained to provide counseling to students and versed in addressing emotional and mental health issues and provide career planning.
"I want to thank Senator Curran and the Illinois Legislature for assuring that students and parents can be confident someone fulfilling the job of a school counselor has adequate training,” said Illinois School Counselor Association Executive Director Daniel Staci. “School counselors in Illinois must have a Master’s degree in counseling, which includes training to provide individual and group counseling, as well as college and career development counseling. They develop and implement important school-based prevention programs. These may include anti-bullying, suicide prevention, and body image programming to name a few.”
House Bill 4514 passed both Chambers on November 28, becoming law and effective immediately.