Campaign Raises Awareness of Regulator’s Role in Oversight of Social Workers and Social Service Workers

The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (“OCSWSSW”) is expanding its “What’s in a name?” campaign (the “Campaign”) to include advertising on CP24 in addition to its ads online and in clinical offices. Now in it’s third year, the Campaign aims to raise public awareness of the OCSWSSW’s public protection mandate and role in regulating the practice of social workers and social service workers in Ontario.

Using simple, bold messaging including “Protect yourself. Be informed.”, “Protection. Professionalism. Accountability.”, and “Is your social worker or social service worker’s name on the Register?”, the Campaign encourages the public to check the Online Register to ensure that they are receiving care from registered social workers and social service workers.

The Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998 requires the OCSWSSW to maintain an Online Register listing all registered members along with information regarding the member’s registration status, place of work, contact information, and discipline history. The Online Register helps the OCSWSSW fulfil its mandate to protect the public by enabling people to seek out information about their practitioner and identify when someone is misrepresenting their qualifications.

Additionally, the Campaign helps highlight that the titles of “social worker”, “registered social worker”, “social service worker” and “registered social service worker” are protected in Ontario and can only be used by practitioners who are registered with the OCSWSSW. In doing so, the Campaign contributes to the OCSWSSW’s vision of ending the use of protected titles by individuals not registered with the OCSWSSW.

In its first year, the OCSWSSW reported that it saw public awareness increase by 4% (representing hundreds of thousands of Ontarians), and by its second year, website traffic to the Online Register had increased by 94%. The Campaign demonstrates that the public values proper registration and is willing to visit the Online Register and take initiative to protect themselves when given the information and tools to do so.

With increased public awareness of the OCSWSSW’s role, social workers and social service workers are more likely to face regulatory scrutiny, a “cost of doing business” in a self-regulated profession.

If you practice social work or employ Social Workers or Social Service Workers in Ontario and have a question about regulation (or other practice issues such as privacy, consent or capacity), please contact us.

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