We ensure the highest standards
of professional, ethical
social work for the people
of Nova Scotia.

Land Acknowledgement 

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers is located in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq. We are all Treaty people.

What we do

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers exists to serve and protect Nova Scotians by effectively regulating the profession of social work. We work in solidarity with Nova Scotians to advocate for policies that improve social conditions, challenge injustice and value diversity.

Our Pillars

What we focus on to deliver on our mandate:

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 social work services.

We provide membership services to support registered social workers in maintaining the highest standards of professional competency, and that enable participation in a broader provincial social work community.

We engage with members, Government, employers, community groups, and citizens to build a stronger social work community, and to promote the social work profession in the public interest of Nova Scotians.

We engage with Nova Scotia’s social work community in advocating for improvement to social policies, programs, and social justice.

We provide responsive, accountable leadership to ensure the highest standards of social work for Nova Scotians.

Our Values

Our work is grounded in integrity and professionalism which calls on us to be:

We are respectful of the inherent dignity of every individual, and strive for cultural humility and social change.

We provide accessible services & communicate province-wide to members, stakeholders, and the public.

We follow the established national social work Code of Ethics that adheres to the profession’s values.

We are proactive in reflecting the values of social work, and supports innovation through education, research, and transformative community engagement, for the sake of social justice.

Our Governance

The College is governed by our elected Council, Executive, and Standing Committees. Council is the College’s main governing body.

College staff assists these groups to ensure the College functions on behalf of the membership between annual general meetings.

The following College Council executives are elected by the members and take office after the AGM:

  • President
  • Vice President
  • Secretary
  • Treasure and
  • Past President

Council is also represented by these eight appointed members:

  • The Chair of the Board of Examiner
  • A representative of the Nova Scotia Association of Black Social Workers
  • A representative from the Indigenous social work community
  • Faculty representative from both Dalhousie School of Social Work and the Universite Sainte-Anne social work program.
  • Student representatives from Dalhousie and Universite Sainte-Anne

The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) also has a representative who is an ex-official member.

As the governing body, Council is responsible for the Amended Social Workers Act mandate and ensures that Social Workers Regulations are upheld. Council also works with members to create the College’s Bylaws.

Council representation also includes elected regional representatives.

Their are four regional chapters, with two representatives each:

  • Western Chapter includes Yarmouth, Shelburne, Digby, Queens, Annapolis, Lunenburg and Kings counties
  • Eastern Chapter includes Guysborough, Antigonish, Richmond, Inverness, Victoria and Cape Breton counties
  • Northern Chapter includes East Hants and Colchester, Cumberland and Pictou counties
  • Central Chapter includes Halifax County and West Hants

About the Profession

What is social work?

  • Social work is a profession that helps individuals, families, groups and communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being.
  • Social workers help them develop their skills and the 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.
  • Social workers play an important and essential role in our society.

Where do social workers work?

Social workers work in a variety of settings including family services agencies, children’s aid agencies, general and psychiatric hospitals, school boards, correctional institutions, welfare administration agencies, federal and provincial departments. An increasing number of social workers work in private practice.

What do social workers do?

Social workers provide services as members of a multi-disciplinary team or on one-to-one basis with the client.

  • Social workers employed by child welfare agencies investigate cases of family violence, child abuse and neglect and take protective action as required. They may recruit foster parents or supervise the placement of children in protective care. Others work on adoption cases.
  • Social workers employed by school boards to help students adjust to the school environment. They help students, parents and teachers to deal with problems such as aggressive behaviour, truancy and family problems which affect the students’ performance.
  • Social workers employed by general and psychiatric hospitals are members of the treatment team. They provide clinical mental health services, a link between the team and the family as well as with community resources. In these settings they contribute to the care, treatment and rehabilitation of the aged, physically or mentally ill individuals, and disabled persons.
  • Social workers employed by health and community services centres are involved in the provision of counselling to individuals or families and in providing services to seniors. Some work as community developers helping citizens to identify their needs and proposing ways of meeting these needs. Those working in family services agencies may assist with parent-child relationships and marriage counselling. The services may be offered on an individual basis or in groups.
  • Social workers employed in the correctional field may be part of a team concerned with the social rehabilitation of young or adult offenders. They may work as classification officers. Others work as probation officers or as parole officers. Parole officers help ex-prisoners adjust to life in the community while conforming to the conditions of their parole.
  • Social workers in private practice offer their services on a fee-for-service basis to individuals, families and organizations. Their services include counselling, psychotherapy, mediation, sex therapy, policy and program development, organizational development employee assistance program and other specialties.
  • Social workers in policy analysis, policy development and planning are usually working in federal and provincial departments or social planning councils. They are also found as researchers and teachers in universities and community colleges.

Working Conditions

Most social workers work full-time although it is possible to work part-time. Recent graduates in social work practice under supervision for administrative and professional development purposes. Many employers offer staff development training. Social workers providing direct services spend most of their time with clients in their offices or in the client’s home. They also spend time in consultation with other professionals such as psychologists, teachers, physicians, lawyers or ether persons concerned in a specific case.

Training & Education

Social work education consists of theoretical courses and practical training at the undergraduate or graduate level. A Bachelor of Social Work (SW) is the minimum educational requirement for entry into the profession in Nova Scotia. Postgraduate education leading to a masters or doctoral degree is also available.

A three or four year undergraduate program is required for a bachelor’s degree. Students who have Bachelor of SW may obtain a master’s degree after one year of post-graduate studies.

Those who have a degree in another discipline are required to complete a two-year post-graduate program in social work to obtain a master’s degree in social work. Most social work programs are accredited by the Canadian-Association of Schools of Social Work. This association publishes a directory of accredited programs. As admission requirements and program orientation vary between schools, interested persons should consult the directory or communicate with the school of their choice