Continuing Education has been viewed as an integral part of the social work profession for many years now. In Massachusetts, Continuing Education has always been a requirement for the maintenance of a social work license. While most licensees agree and see the value of Continuing Education, it has become apparent recently that a reminder as to just what is required and how the Board monitors compliance, is needed. As such, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the general Continuing Education requirement, and the Board's audit process. A future FOCUS article will discuss specifically the current CEU regulations is terms of acceptability of programs and credits.
Licensees, in order to renew their social work license, must sign a renewal form attesting under the penalties of perjury that they have completed all requirements for their license. This, of course, includes completion of Continuing Education. Licensees must complete the minimum number of continuing education hours specified below for his or her licensure level during each licensure period:
LICSW- 30 LCSW - 20 LSW - 15 LSWA - 10
Continuing Education may only be counted for the licensure cycle in which it was taken and must be obtained prior to renewal of the social work license.
The only exemption made to this requirement pertains to licensees who provide social work services, exclusively as an employee of a unit of state, county, or municipal government located within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
It is the responsibility of the licensee to ensure not only that the course or program for which they are receiving credit is approved by a recognized entity, but also that they receive and maintain appropriate documentation of their CEUs. Documentation should include the authorization number given by the recognized entity to the sponsor of said course or program, and should be maintained for a period of not less than two licensure cycles, inclusive of the licensure period during which the course, program or activity was completed.
Continuing Education Audits are now performed after the submission of renewal forms, and may be done at any time during the two-year licensure cycle. If randomly selected for the audit, you will receive a written notification requesting that you submit documentation of your continuing education for the most recent, previous, complete licensure cycle (10/1/odd year - 10/1/odd year). If you fail to provide documentation of your Continuing Education, disciplinary action will be taken against your license. Audits are performed by our application processing vendor ASWB and therefore if you are selected any questions about this process should initially be directed first to ASWB.
It is imperative that licensees understand the absolute necessity of continuing education completion for maintenance of their license. While the Board certainly does not look for ways to penalize social workers licensed in the Commonwealth, it is their duty as a consumer protection agency to ensure that the care and protection of the citizens of the Commonwealth is held in the highest regard. With that said, it falls to the Board to ensure licensees are following the standards of practice, which they have set forth in Massachusetts General Law 258 CMR.
As always, feel free to contact the Board office with any questions related to this or any other licensure issue at 617 727-3064.