People often look at becoming a social worker because they want to be involved in a challenging job that is also going to be very rewarding, such as improving the lives of fellow human beings. The Social Workers Registration Board was established in 1998, and is a statutory body put into effect as a regulatory system to monitor the quality of social workers. The social workers are employed in many different roles with many different titles such as social worker, field worker, case manager, community worker, family support worker, and support worker amongst others.
Social Workers help people with a host of everyday problems and many who work in the field have a Master’s degree in Social Work. To become a social worker, a Bachelor of Social Work or BSW degree is the minimum requirement. They are employed in a variety of different settings like clinics, hospitals, government offices and schools. Those with a master’s degree can average about $40,000 to $60,000 depending upon experience. Requirements for being a social worker differ from state to state, however most require social workers to be licensed, registered, or certified in their field.
When Registration Is Slow
There are some social workers who complete all the requirements for their degree and have been waiting for many months for this to be conferred so as not to miss out on certain job opportunities. In this instance, the Board will accept a letter from the Registrar or Director of the School of Social Work confirming completion of all requirements.
Protection To Profession And The Public
Registration with the Board is the first step in the regulation of social workers as a profession, and affords protection to both the profession and the public. Many health providers require social work staff to be registered, as registration affords health practitioner status. With mandatory registration the protected title would be Social Worker rather than Registered Social Worker.
The Board protects the interests of service users and the general public and promotes excellence in social work practice by encouraging high standards of practice. Qualification for registration is a bachelor’s degree in social work, a master’s degree in social work, or a doctoral degree in social work from a reputable program which is acceptable to the Board.
Just like in any profession, but more so in the medical profession, where people’s lives are on the line, ethical behavior is an expectation, and the Social Workers Registration Board adopted a Code of Ethics in order to define what behavior it regards as correct under specific circumstances. Social workers are expected to:
- serve humanity
- respect the worth of persons
- ensure integrity
- ensure top confidentiality
- display competence
- pursue social justice
The Aims Of The Registration Board
It was established under the Social Worker Registration Ordinance. Any social worker whose name does not appear on the Register of Registered Social Workers is not entitled to use the title of social worker. Only somebody who is registered with the Registration Board may represent themselves as a social worker, otherwise it is an offense, and you will be subject to a fine if you represent yourself as a social worker when you have not gone through all the proper training and registration.
The aim of the Registration Board is to develop basic standards for practice in the social work field, laying out the responsibility of agencies, workers, and supervisors with regard to professional supervision, and social workers are encouraged to exceed the proposed standards.
A social work degree awarded in the United States and accredited by the Council on Social Work Education is recognized by the Social Workers Registration Board for registration, but degrees obtained from an online college or distance education program will be considered on an individual basis, even if it is an accredited program. If you plan to pursue a degree in social work in another country, by holding a social work qualification to be conferred by a university there,you will still be qualified for registration as a registered social worker. A social work qualification awarded overseas and which is accredited by the authorized accreditation body of that country, is recognized by the Board for registration, provided that an accreditation mechanism has been adopted in that country.
Being Registered With The Board Has Benefits
Some of these benefits include the following:
- most importantly, it gives you the right to represent yourself as a social worker and to use the title ‘registered social worker’.
- you are recognized as someone who has gone through the right channels, you are capable and responsible of practicing with professional standards and are accountable to the public.
- you can be listed in the Private Practice Roster.
- you can volunteer on committees of choice.
There are, of course, many functions of the Social Workers Registration Board, and some of these are listed below:
- to keep a register of all registered social workers.
- to adopt a code of ethics and standards of practice.
- to issue certificates and to maintain the register.
- to safeguard the welfare of the public with regard to social work services.
- to keep proper records of all its proceedings and accounts.
- to publish from time to time the qualification standards.
- to examine and verify the qualification of social workers applying for registration.
- to examine and receive or reject applications for registration.
- deal with disciplinary offenses in accordance with the Ordinance.
- to establish committees to advise the Board on the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers.
The bottom line is that the Social Workers Registration Board is to deal with all matters relating to registered social worker’s registration and professional conduct.
The Code Of Conduct
The Code of Conduct is all about the professional standards of behavior and integrity that apply to registered social workers and that should apply generally in the social work profession. Social Workers need to provide services at a high level of competency. To uphold high standards of personal conduct, a social worker has to at all times refrain from unprofessional behavior that puts the professional reputation of the social worker profession in a bad light. The social worker is expected to work in a professional manner and with integrity at all times.
The Code of Conduct expects its workers to always:
- uphold high standard of conduct
- respect the legal, civil and human right of clients
- provide a high level of competent services
The Code of Conduct and its guidelines is updated by the Social Workers Registration Board from time to time to ensure its continued relevance.
Registered Social Workers promise to provide competent, ethical services, but there are times when clients have a complaint about the practice of a registered social worker, and to protect the public interest, the Registration Board is authorized to investigate complaints. The complaints relate to professional misconduct or incompetence or failure to comply with standards of practice.
Complaints must be made in writing and should include detailed information of the registered social worker, and provide a description of what happened. The registered social worker will be informed about the complaint, who will be given opportunity to provide a response. He or she will also be entitled to legal counsel. The Inquiry Committee will review all information decide to:
- take the action it deems appropriate to resolve the matter
- take no further action
- direct that a citation be issued and a formal hearing
The Social Workers Registration Board is empowered by the Social Workers Registration Ordinance to deal with complaints against registered social workers who have allegations of misconduct or neglect in any professional respect against them. It should be noted that it has no jurisdiction over claims for compensation.
If there is a complaint against a registered social worker, complaints concerning a disciplinary offense will be made to the Registrar who will submit the complaint to two members of the Board and who have been appointed for the purpose of scrutiny. If these two members consider it necessary, they will refer the complaint to the Board who will appoint a disciplinary committee made up of five members selected from the Disciplinary Committee Panel to inquire into the case. Recommendations to the Board after the disciplinary inquiry are then made and the Board will then make a decision on the complaint.
Social workers provide fantastic services to individuals, couples, families, groups and the community, and depending on their level of training may even treat emotional and mental disorders. Health and social care professionals have been campaigning for the statutory regulation of their professions and it is here now. The Board of Registration of Social Work protects the public through regulation of the practice, and to register, social workers will have to comply with the registration criteria as well as comply with the Code of Ethics and Conduct for Social Workers.
The Board holds meetings, listens to complaints and takes action as required. Currently, the requirement for social workers to register is voluntary in some countries, but the Social Workers Registration Board is consulting as to whether voluntary registration provides sufficient protection for the public or whether mandatory registration would provide better protection.