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Message from the Registrar – The Role of the College

Message from the Registrar – The Role of the College

For my inaugural “Message from the Registrar”, I would like to take this opportunity to address some of the misconceptions about the College that arise from time to time – most recently at this year’s Annual Meeting and Education Day. Namely, what is the role of the College?

The Role of the College

The College’s ongoing mandate is to serve and protect the public interest through self-regulation of the professions of social work and social service work. The provincial government, through the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998, has given the social work and social service work professions the privilege and responsibility of regulating themselves.

The College fulfills its public protection mandate by:

  • Regulating the practice of social work and social service work and governing its members.
  • Setting entry-to-practice requirements to ensure that only those with specialized educational qualifications are eligible for registration.
  • Setting, maintaining and ensuring that all members follow the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
  • Requiring members to engage in ongoing learning through the Continuing Competence Program (CCP).
  • Maintaining rigorous complaints and discipline processes.

Professional self-regulation not only protects the public from unqualified, incompetent and unfit practitioners, but also brings credibility to the professions. Registration with the College demonstrates your commitment to professional, ethical, qualified and accountable practice. Only registered College members are allowed to use the titles “social worker,” “registered social worker,” “social service worker” or “registered social service worker” or to hold themselves out as a social worker or social service worker in Ontario.

The Regulatory College and Professional Associations Are Distinct Entities

If you find yourself confused about the role of the College as opposed to that of the association, remember this: the College protects the public through the regulation of social work and social service work, whereas professional associations work on behalf of their respective professions and their members.

You can learn more about the roles of professional associations such as the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) and the Ontario Social Service Worker Association (OSSWA) by clicking on the links below:

To learn more about the College’s public protection mandate and accomplishments, I encourage you to visit our website and most recent Annual Report.

If you have any questions regarding the role of the College, or if you have any suggestions as to topics for my next message, please contact communications@ocswssw.org. Your feedback is always welcome!


Lise Betteridge, MSW, RSW

Registrar