Social Work in Nova Scotia

Social work in Nova Scotia is a distinct profession that holds a unique position within the helping professions. Social work is dedicated to:

  • The welfare and self-realization of all people.
  • The development and disciplined use of scientific and professional knowledge.
  • The development of resources and skills to meet individual, group, national and international changing needs and aspirations.
  • The achievement of social justice for all (CASW,2015).

The profession’s commitment to a high level of skills and competencies combined with its obligation to the values of social change and justice define its uniqueness within Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers exists to serve and protect Nova Scotians by effectively regulating the profession of social work. We believe the people of Nova Scotia are entitled to receive the highest calibre of care from their social workers. We ground this belief in the ideal that social workers provide an essential service to support Nova Scotians lead healthier, happier lives.

To achieve these goals, we establish, maintain, and regulate Standards of Professional Practice to ensure Nova Scotians receive the services of skilled and competent social workers who are knowledgeable, ethical, qualified, and accountable to the people who receive their services.

Registration with the College is mandatory if you hold a social work credential and are practicing within the Scope of Practice. The Scope of Practice for social workers in Nova Scotia is connected to society’s most vulnerable people (CASW). Children, youth, seniors, people with mental or physical disabilities, individuals in the correctional system, and families on social welfare, are some of the populations with whom social workers interact with every day. Social workers practice in settings such as family services agencies, children’s protection agencies, hospitals, school boards, correctional institutions, and welfare administration agencies (CASW).

Social workers are not only involved at the individual or group level, but at the community and organizational level. They are expected to promote social change, and critically assess the status quo of their environment based on specific knowledge of theories, histories and vulnerabilities of the various people, social groups and individuals in their society (Social Workers Act. 1993, c. 12, s. 5(2)).

The Act defines social work as the following:

5A  (1) For the purpose of this Act, the practice of social work means the provision of professional services to clients through the use of social work knowledge, theory, skills, judgment and values acquired through a program from an approved faculty of social work.

(2) The professional services to clients referred to in subsection (1) may include:

  1. Intervention through direct contact with clients, including assessment, case management, client-centered advocacy, education, consultation, counseling, crisis intervention, and referral.
  2. Community development founded on the principles of social justice that focus on mobilizing individuals to employ their skills to effect community change by community capacity building and community-based participation research.
  3. Direct or indirect provision of administrative, educational, policy or research services including:

a) The development and promotion of social policies focused on improving social conditions and promoting social justice.

b) The development, the provision and the administration of social work services programs.

c) The supervision of individuals providing social work services.

d) Such other activities as may be prescribed by the regulations.

General Statement on Applications

Time for Processing

Your application will not be presented to the Board for approval until the Board office has received a complete application package. All material must be available 10 days prior to the Board meeting. The Board meets monthly, eleven times a year. Notification of the Board’s decision is mailed to you within a week after the decision. In addition, your name is added to the Register of Social Workers and Social Worker Candidates within the week.

Pending review of your application by the Board, the Registrar may grant temporary registration for a period of up to 30 days. For more information about temporary status, please contact the office.

Should your application not be approved, you will be informed, in writing of the reasons. You may submit a completed application package to the Board for registration to practice social work in Nova Scotia. Based on the information provided in your application, the Board will determine your registration status.

Application Procedure

Once an applicant has completed the application form and paid the application fee they have 6 months to complete the registration process. Once the application has been approved by the Board of Examiners the applicant has 30 days to pay the registration fee.

Information on Registry

All Registered Social Workers and Social Worker Candidates are required to provide the Board of Examiners with:

  • a current address
  • telephone number
  • place of employment

Translation of Documents

Documents that are not in English must be translated before they are submitted to the College and/or a credentials evaluation agency. You must provide your original documents plus a precise word-for-word translation in English. This must be a certified translation, accompanied by a cover letter from an accredited translator including:

  •  The exact name of the documents which have been translated.
  • The method by which the accredited translator received the documents.
  • Any comments about the accuracy of your documents.
  • The date of the translation.
  • The accredited translator’s identification number and/or seal.

Academic Qualification

The application form asks you to list the academic qualifications you have obtained from a social work program. It is your responsibility to contact the academic institution(s) from which you graduated and request that original transcripts be forwarded directly to the College. A photocopy, fax or electronic copy of the documentation will not be accepted. If your social work program has been submitted to the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) for an evaluation, ensure that the CASW forwards the written evaluation directly to the College. An official transcript from your academic institution is not required.

Criminal Record Checks

The NSCSW must verify an original criminal record check through your local police service. Contact your local police department or visit Original copies can be mailed back to applicants at the applicant’s expense.

Child Abuse Register

The Child Abuse Register contains the names of persons who have been found by the court to have abused children. It is used to screen prospective foster and adoptive parents, and prospective employees or volunteers who are or would be working with children. If you are residing outside Nova Scotia, forms may be made available through the province’s child welfare agency or government department. If the province does not conduct a child abuse check, please note this in your application and ensure that the police include a vulnerable persons’ check.

Child Abuse Register checks can be requested only by an individual for his or her own name. The search results will be provided to the individual in the form of a letter which can then be shared with any organization.