More than one-third of social workers with the state Department of Children and Families are not licensed to practiced in their field, according to the agency's own records.

The embattled child welfare agency tells the Boston Herald that more than 800 department social workers, 34%, don't have a state license in social work.

An agency spokesman says a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field has been required of new hires only since 2001. Supervisors must now have a master';s degree.

Only social workers who work for the state or local government are exempt from having licenses, according to state regulators.

The agency has come under fire for mishandling several cases, particularly the case of a 5-year old Fitchburg boy whose disappearance went unnoticed by agency workers for months.

[Associated Press]