Vancouver/Abbotsford/Chilliwack (Files from NEWS 1130) – Becoming a social worker in the province will soon require you to take an exam.
The extra step is meant to improve standards, but many in the field who deal with some of the most vulnerable clients won’t actually have to pass the test.
Social workers with the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and with school districts won’t have to write it.
John Mayr with the BC College of Social Workers says the change for some in the profession will be a positive one.
“Examinations are based on competency and the College is responsible for setting minimum standards for public protection, and that would include making sure that entry to practice social workers are competent.”
He adds there are advantages to writing the test.
“Social workers that work in complex and high-demand case loads can actually rely on standards of practice to say, employers; there’s insufficient people to do this workload and you have to hire more people.”
BC’s representative for children and youth is applauding the move to bring in an exam. But Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond wants to see the ministry make it a pre-employment requirement.
“When they have to follow standards within a professional discipline of social work, I don’t think that the model of exempting those social workers from being registered and being within the college is going to work any longer. This is very important for competency, for setting minimum standards for proper protection, and also for their own safety and support — that they have peers and others that could do professional development.”
Turpel Lafond says the ministry should create an incentive for this, if it needs to.
“The reasons why MCFD historically didn’t want to be within the college or have a certification process are reasons that just do not any longer hold true,” she argues.
“For instance, the MCFD wanted to sort of control its workforce, in terms of what they asked them to do and so forth, and they also wanted to be responsible for regulating and disciplining their employees. But every profession — whether it’s a dentist, a doctor, a nurse, a teacher — everyone is used to professional regulation now. This is long overdue and the College of Social Workers just brings value. You can have your duty to your employer but you also have your duty as a social worker to the society and to the College. That’s really valuable to have those two sets of responsibilities, and it improves service for children.”
The test is set to become mandatory for anyone outside school districts and the ministry in September.