Why does the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers have a Support Person Program?
The College’s ongoing mandate is to protect the public from unqualified, incompetent and unfit practitioners. As part of this public protection mandate, the College has a duty to consider and investigate reports and complaints regarding alleged misconduct or incompetence of College members, including sexual abuse and/or boundary violations of a sexual nature.
Implemented in 2019, the College’s Support Person Program provides the public with arm’s-length support in circumstances where allegations of sexual abuse and/or boundary violations of a sexual nature by a social worker or social service worker have been or may be alleged. While the Support Person Program does not provide traditional counselling, it does provide a supportive framework to assist and to support members of the public as they consider, engage in and move through the College’s investigations and discipline processes.
The College has retained the services of a support person, who is also a regulated health professional, to provide arm’s-length and confidential support to persons who have experienced sexual abuse by College members. The support person is not only extremely knowledgeable about the impact of sexual abuse but also familiar with the College’s investigations and discipline processes.
As regulated professionals, College members are required to maintain professional boundaries at all times. Sexual contact between College members and clients undermines the public’s trust in the professions and is strictly forbidden. Any form of sexual contact between a client and a College member is an extremely serious form of professional misconduct that can result in penalties up to and including revocation of a member’s certificate of registration with the College.
For more information on the Support Person Program, visit the College website.