Social work is a regulated profession. So, before you can practice in Canada as a social worker, you need to get your foreign credential assessed by the relevant body in Canada. The body responsible for this in Canada is the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW). This article will show you steps to assess your foreign credential as a social worker. If you are in a different profession, read licensing bodies for regulated professions in Canada.
For those with limited knowledge about what social work is about, read on. Social work is a profession concerned with helping individuals, families, groups and communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being. The social workers aim to help people develop their skills and their ability to use their own resources and those of the community to resolve problems. Social work is concerned with individual and personal problems but also with broader social issues such as poverty, unemployment and domestic violence. If this looks something that is of interest to you, you have come to the right place.
Things to Know Before getting started
Before you read about the steps to assess your foreign credential as a social worker, you need to know the following:
- CASW does not assess degrees obtained through distance education or correspondence work.
- Social work is a profession in Canada. Therefore, degrees obtained in disciplines other than social work will not be considered for assessment.
- In Canada, the provincial and territorial social work regulatory bodies regulate the profession of social work. CASW’s assessment is accepted in all provinces/territories with the exception of British Columbia and Quebec.
- The assessment does not grant successful applicants a Canadian degree. Rather, it establishes if an applicant’s education is equivalent to a Canadian Social Work degree (Bachelor or Master).
- A CASW assessment does not guarantee applicants successful registration with a social work regulatory body or a social work position/job in Canada.
- The CASW assessment costs and details on payment can be found in the Application Procedure.
- CASW assessments are based on the Standards of Accreditation applied to all accredited Schools of Social Work in Canada as established by the Canadian Association of Social Work Education (CASWE).
- CASW assessments consider only academic credentials: degrees, diplomas and certificates, but not work or volunteer experience.
- Applicants can not send primary transcripts or the Verification Form. The educational institution attended must send directly.
In Canada, social work legislation is the responsibility of the province. The legislative authority is thus divided between the Federal government and the provincial / territorial governments. In Canada, jurisdiction over profession is assigned to the provinces / territories. Provincial social work legislation varies from province to province. Individual social workers become registered by becoming a member of a provincial regulatory body. You will find below the regulatory body in each of the provinces / territories.
- British Columbia: British Columbia College of Social Workers
- Alberta: Alberta College of Social Workers
- Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Association of Social Workers
- Manitoba: Manitoba College of Social Workers
- Ontario: Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers
- Quebec: Ordre des travailleurs sociaux et thérapeutes conjugaux et familiaux du Québec
- New Brunswick: New Brunswick Association of Social Workers
- Nova Scotia: Nova Scotia College of Social Workers
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers
- Prince Edward Island: Prince Edward Island Social Work Registration Board
- Northern Canada (Northwest Territories): Registrar, Professional Licensing
Steps to assess your Foreign Credential as a Social Worker
One of the key steps to assess your foreign credential as a social worker is to put together your application package. There are 7 steps need to follow to have your Social Work qualifications assessed. You will find the steps listed below. So, read them carefully. You can submit the documents in any order, or all at once, however a file will not move forward to the evaluation stage until CASW has received all the necessary documents and payment.
As an applicant, you may inquire about the status of the assessments at any point in the process by email or by phone. The time it takes to assess the file can vary greatly depending on demand, and CASW is unable to guarantee specific timelines in terms of completing evaluations. However, once CASW receives all the required documentation, assessments generally take between 6-12 weeks
1. The CASW Application Form
The CASW Application Form must be completed by the applicant and sent to Canadian Association of Social Workers, 383 Parkdale Avenue, Suite 402, Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 4R4.
2. CASW Verification Form
The CASW must receive the Verification Form directly from the educational institution attended. CASW does not accept Verification forms electronically (e-mail attachments). The CASW Verification form must be printed, signed, and sealed by Dean or Director of School / Faculty of Social Work at the applicable academic institution and sent by mail directly to the CASW offices, not to the applicant.
3. Official Credentials/Transcripts
1) Primary Credential/Degree
The educational institution attended must send the official transcript of the primary credential / degree to be assessed by mail to the CASW offices. CASW does not accept copies of transcripts electronically (e-mail attachments). The official transcripts should include a record of all courses taken, as well as grades and credit hours received.
The primary credential/degree is considered the highest level of professional social work education completed by an applicant. If CASW receives the primary degree transcript from an applicant, whether in a sealed envelope or not, CASW will request that a new transcript from the educational institution before proceeding with an evaluation. There is no exceptions to this.
2) Secondary Credentials:
CASW requires official transcripts of secondary credentials (degrees/diplomas) obtained even if the education completed is in an unrelated discipline. The applicant may send copies of secondary credentials to CASW directly. However, please note that in the process of assessment, CASW assessors may request official transcripts of secondary credentials sent directly by the university to CASW to validate results.
Generally, secondary credentials are considered all post-secondary education completed by an applicant prior to the completion of their highest level of social work education. CASW does not require post graduate continuing education seminars, courses or diplomas. CASW does not assess Secondary School credentials.
4. Additional Required Documentation
CASW also requires the following documentation to proceed with an assessment and the applicant can send them directly to CASW:
- Course Descriptions: CASW will require course descriptions for each class as listed on the transcript. Most academic institutions use course descriptions to help students decide which classes to take. Photocopies of the original course descriptions from the academic institution attended are acceptable.
- Social Work Field Practice Descriptions: Ideally Field Work, Practicum, or Placement descriptions should come from your academic institution’s syllabus or other official document. Please ensure that you list the social service agency(s) from your field placement experiences, including an overview of the type of setting, hours of practicum per semester (as applicable) and a general description of your on-site experiences, including the methods of supervision and evaluation by the agency and by the university.
- If your name has changed since you completed your education, CASW needs proof of the change of name, For example, a copy of an applicant’s Marriage Certificate.
The applicant and/or academic institution attended must mail all additional required documentation to CASW . Please note that CASW often accepts additional required documentation via e-mail (10 total pages per applicant) (firstname.lastname@example.org). However, CASW reserves the right to request a hard-copy of documentation.
5. Supporting Documentation
The supporting documents are not mandatory. Supporting documents might include:
- A copy of Social work Certificate(s) or Diplomas(s) obtained
- Proof of membership in professional social work associations(s) from another country
- A copy of the title and abstract of an applicant’s Thesis or Major Research Paper, if applicable
- A copy of your PayPal Receipt
6. Pay the Application Fee
The fee is $339.00 ($300 plus 13% HST) and covers the professional assessment and administrative costs. CASW accepts payment in Canadian funds only and the preferred payment options is by credit card through Paypal. Include your email receipt with your complete application form. If the credit card is in a name other than the applicant’s, please specify the applicant’s name under “Instructions for the Seller” on the PayPal form.
The CASW refund policy can be found on their website. CASW will only process your applications only after receipt and deposit of full payment. You can also make money order and certified cheques payable to the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW). Please be aware that CASW will not proceed with an assessment until banking institution clears the payment.
7. Waiver Form
Please complete the Waiver Form and mail it in with the required additional and supporting documentation if you intend to practice social work in Canada. If an applicant receives equivalency to a Canadian Bachelor or Masters of Social Work, CASW will send a letter to the provincial or territorial regulatory body designated in the Waiver Form.
If the applicant does not receive equivalency to a Canadian Bachelor or Masters of Social Work, CASW will not send a letter to the designated provincial or territorial regulatory body. Applicants receive letters of assessment regardless of results.
How will I know when the assessment is complete?
When the assessment is complete, you will receive written notification of the evaluation and of the equivalency rating assigned. Regardless of the outcome of the assessment, all applicants will receive written notification of results.
Applicants successful in obtaining equivalency to a Canadian BSW or MSW are provided with a personal letter, as well as a “To Whom It May Concern” letter, stating the equivalency of his/her credentials to the Canadian standard.
If you receive a Canadian equivalency rating (BSW or MSW), and have completed a Waiver Form (found in the Application Package), CASW will forward a letter to the designated regulatory body. CASW will not send a letter if the applicant does not receive equivalency. You will also receive a copy of the letter.
In case CASW does not grant you Canadian equivalency, you will receive a letter outlining the reasons justifying the decision. Included in this letter will also be instructions on how to begin a review or appeal process, should you wish to do so.
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