Social work is a profession affecting public health, safety, and welfare. It is regulated in the same way that medicine and nursing are. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and all 10 Canadian provinces regulate the practice of social work.
Regulation is your assurance that the professionals who provide care or assistance to you are competent to practice and will interact with clients in an ethical and safe manner.
Regulation also is your assurance that you have recourse through your U.S. state or territory board of social work or your Canadian provincial college of social work if a social worker steps outside the bounds of ethical and safe practice.
The role of the board in public protection
These regulatory boards and colleges:
- Establish the rules and regulations of the profession and the standards for licensure
- Issue licenses to those social workers who have met these professional standards
- Require that social workers complete continuing education in order to maintain their licensed status in good standing
- Investigate complaints and, when necessary, decide whether a social worker continues to deserve a license
In short, the mission of these regulatory bodies is the protection of the public. And that public includes anyone who is the recipient of social work services.
The role of ASWB
The Association of Social Work Boards is the nonprofit association dedicated to social work regulation. Our mission is to strengthen protection of the public by providing support and services to social work licensing boards in the United States and Canada.
The association owns and maintains the social work licensing examinations that are used to test a social worker’s competence to practice ethically and safely. The association also developed and maintains a model practice act that offers regulatory bodies a resource for developing their own laws and regulations. These model regulations define standards of minimum social work competence, methods of fairly addressing consumer concerns, and a means of removing practitioners who do not adhere to the rules of professional practice.
ASWB’s members include 49 states and Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, all 10 Canadian provinces. California is the only state that is not currently a member of ASWB, because it administers its own licensing exam.
Resources available to the public
The resources provided to the public by ASWB through this website are inclusive of all U.S. states and territories and Canadian provinces.
Finding your regulatory board
You can find the website of your local social work licensing board through ASWB’s list of regulatory boards. Remember to bookmark your licensing board’s website for future reference.