Chapter Update

Monday, October 14

New Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act Rule Changes that Strengthen the Profession

Joel L. Rubin, MSW, ACSW, CAE
NASW Illinois Chapter Executive Director


UPDATE: An FAQ regarding the licensure changes has been created. Click here for the FAQ. 


Social work regulation protects the public by establishing the qualifications that a professional must possess. On behalf of the NASW Illinois Chapter, I am pleased to announce several rule changes that were adopted today that protect and strengthen our profession in the state. 

Two changes that will become effective beginning December 1, 2013, and will apply to the next licensure cycle from 12/1/13 – 11/30/15 include the following:

1. Effective December 1, 2013, at least 3 of the 30 continuing education unit (CEU) hours must include content related to cultural competence in the practice of social work.

2. Effective December 1, 2013, a minimum of 50% of the total continuing education (CE) hours required must be obtained by a method that includes face-to-face, in-person instruction or experience.

IMPORTANT: These changes will NOT affect our current licensure cycle which expires on November 30, 2013.

An additional change (among several other) that IDFPR instituted and that becomes effective immediately includes the following:

  • The supervisor shall have met with the individual an average of at least 4 hours each month (replaces the requirement of meeting once a week).

Since the Social Work Practice Act was reauthorized on January 1, 2009, a Social Work Licensure Task Force has been meeting under the auspices of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Illinois Chapter. The task force (which is comprised of representatives from all practice areas and geographical parts of the state) recommended the above rule changes that work towards strengthening a social worker’s skill set and the quality of continuing education required for licensure. Over the past ten months, the NASW Illinois Chapter and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) have been working very closely on the rule changes with direct involvement of the Acting IDFPR Secretary Manuel Flores, department legislative and legal staff, and the staff liaison to the Social Work Examining and Disciplinary Board. I would like to acknowledge the assistance and support of Illinois State Senator William Delgado in this process as well. Below you will find the task force’s rationale for these important changes.

The Adopted Rule Changes that were published in the October 11, 2013 Illinois Register can be found at starting on p. 15904.

Cultural Competence CEU Inclusion

  1. Recognition that cultural competence and sensitivity to diversity is an essential component of social work practice skill and is embedded in the society’s mandate that social work practice is primarily aimed at helping oppressed populations and changing social conditions that impact them.
  2. NASW’s national organization has developed cultural competence standards and mandates a cultural competence and diversity committee in all chapters:
  3. NASW Illinois Chapter’s ongoing Cultural Competence and Diversity Committee ensures attention to cultural competence and diversity in social work practice, interpreting its vision as reflecting multiple dimensions of diversity beyond race and ethnicity that exist in the chapter and throughout society in general. As we acknowledge differences in all aspects of our society, diversity takes on a broader meaning to include the socio-cultural experiences of people of different genders, social classes, religious and spiritual beliefs, sexual orientations, political ideologies, and physical and mental abilities.
  4. The Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Center for Diversity and Social and Economic Justice (the Diversity Center) advances the goals of individual and community well-being and social justice as articulated in the mission of the CSWE. The Diversity Center pursues this mission by helping to promote, develop, and sustain social work leadership, teaching, research, curricula, knowledge-building, and institutional arrangements that foster the achievement of diversity and social and economic justice as a central priority.
  5. The Diversity Center provides social work education with the opportunity and means to provide the vision, visibility, voice, cohesion, and outcomes needed to position social workers to work with diverse groups for social and economic justice. It also provides national leadership for social work professionals in the areas of education, research, and practice. The Commission on Diversity and Social and Economic Justice is working with CSWE to launch the Diversity Center. Part of the workgroup's planning process is to inventory the kinds of programs and activities currently in place in schools of social work and of interest to social work educators. This information will enable the Diversity Center to identify needs, resources, and gaps that will in turn shape the direction of the first initiatives. (Source: website)
  6. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) has completed a series of strategic planning sessions that have resulted in a new mission and vision for the association, as well as established a “strategy map” for the organization’s future. One of their priorities for 2011 to 2013 is to encourage the education committee to expand global cultural awareness.

15 In-Person CEUs

Continuing education is a diverse, evolving, and essential mechanism for extending social work education to lifelong learning. However, the decentralization, variety, and largely unregulated delivery of continuing education units (CEUs) raise concerns about quality, relevance, consistency, and the transfer of training to practice.

Rationale for the recommended change includes:

  1. The original social work practice act requiring 30 CEUs every two years for social workers was written (1989) before the advent of the internet and virtual education in mind.
  2. Due to a lack of educational standards for online education, quality differs significantly from provider to provider. Examples abound including the following:
    • CEU providers who print books with 30 chapters, providing a CEU for each chapter and which takes less than two hours to read the book yet provides 30 CEUs
    • A CEU provider offers an online course worth 15 CEUs yet the entire course can be watched in one hour. A social worker could take two courses and get what is supposed to be 30 hours of CEUs in less than 2 hours of online time.
  3. Ideally the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) would evaluate every online course before allowing it to offer CEUs. However due to financial concerns, additional mandates wouldn't be effective or affordable.
  4. Changing the requirement to just 15 hours online and at least 15 hours in-person would at least ensure half of the social work CEUs were taken as the original law intended. Maintaining 15 online possible CEUs would also be a fair balance for rural area social workers who (while there are plenty of providers throughout the state) might not be able to find 30 CEUs in their preferred topic. There are currently 21 schools of social work in the state of Illinois that provide continuing education in all geographic sections of the state, as well as agencies, organizations, hospitals, and other professional associations that do the same.
  5. Over half the states in the country (30) limit online CEU offerings.

NASW Illinois will continue to champion the profession and the professional standards that continuously represent the profession. We want to thank again many of you who were invaluable in getting these important changes made.

Posted on 10/14/13 at 01:19 PM


Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.
  • 09-20-18

    East Central District CEU Event: Grief, Loss, and EMDR (Gibson City)

  • 09-20-18

    Calumet District Fall 2018 Networking and Social Event (Homewood)

  • 09-21-18

    LSW/LCSW Review Course 09.21.18 (Chicago)

  • 09-21-18

    SOLD OUT! Northeastern District Ethics CEU Event: Ethical Best Practice Q & A (Skokie)

  • 09-27-18

    LESS THAN 5 SPOTS! Chicago District CEU Event: Interrupting the Violence (Chicago)

Calendar »

Become a member of NASW today!


Visit the CEU Opportunities page to find free CEU events for NASW Illinois members!

Continuing Edcuation

Consider joining one of our social networking groups.