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Statute

Chapter 90B

Section:

 

§ 90B‑1.  Short title.

This Chapter shall be known as the "Social Worker Certification and Licensure Act."

(1983, c. 495; 199-313, s. 1.)

 

§ 90B‑2.  Purpose.

Since the profession of social work significantly affects the lives of the people of this State, it is the purpose of this Chapter to protect the public by setting standards for qualification, training, and experience for those who seek to represent themselves to the public as certified social workers or licensed clinical social workers and by promoting high standards of professional performance for those engaged in the practice of social work.

(1983, c. 495, s. 1; 1999-313, s. 1.)

 

§ 90B‑3.  Definitions.

The following definitions apply in this Chapter:

(1)       Board. – The North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board.

(2)       Repealed by Session Laws 203-410, s. 8, effective August 23, 2013.

(3)       Certified Master Social Worker. – A person who is certified under this Chapter to practice social work as a master social worker and is engaged in the practice of social work.

(4)       Certified Social Work Manager. – A person who is certified under this Chapter to practice social work as a social work manager and is engaged in the practice of social work.

(5)       Certified Social Worker. – A person who is certified under this Chapter to practice social work as a social worker and is engaged in the practice of social work.

(6)       Clinical Social Work Practice. – The professional application of social work theory and methods to the biopsychosocial diagnosis, treatment, or prevention, of emotional and mental disorders. Practice includes, by whatever means of communications, the treatment of individuals, couples, families, and groups, including the use of psychotherapy and referrals to and collaboration with other health professionals when appropriate. Clinical social work practice shall not include the provision of supportive daily living services to persons with severe and persistent mental illness as defined in G.S. 122C‑3(33a).

(6a)     Licensed Clinical Social Worker. - A person who is competent to function independently, who holds himself or herself out to the public as a social worker, and who offers or provides clinical social work services or supervises others engaging in clinical social work practice.

(6b)     Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate. - A person issued an associate license to provide clinical social work services pursuant to G.S. 90B-7(f).

(7)       Practice of Social Work. – To perform or offer to perform services, by whatever means of communications, for other people that involve the application of social work values, principles, and techniques in areas such as social work services, consultation and administration, and social work planning and research.

(8)       Social Worker. – A person certified, licensed, or associate licensed by this Chapter or otherwise exempt under G.S. 90B-10.”

(1983, c. 495, s. 1: 1991, c. 732, s. 1; 1999-313, s. 1; 2007-379, 2009-88, s. 1; 2012-72, s. 2; 2013-410, s. 8.)

 

§ 90B‑4.  Prohibitions.

(a)       Except as otherwise provided in this Chapter, it is unlawful for any person who is not certified as a social worker, master social worker, or social work manager under this Chapter to represent himself or herself to be certified under this Chapter or hold himself or herself out to the public by any title or description denoting that he or she is certified under this Chapter.

(b)       After January 1, 1992, except as otherwise provided in this Chapter, it is unlawful to engage in or offer to engage in the practice of clinical social work without first being licensed under this Chapter as a clinical social worker.

(c)       Nothing herein shall prohibit school social workers who are certified by the State Board of Education from practicing school social work under the title "Certified School Social Worker." Except as provided for licensed clinical social workers, nothing herein shall be construed as prohibiting social workers who are not certified by the Board from practicing social work. Except as provided herein for licensed clinical social workers, no agency, institution, board, commission, bureau, department, division, council, member of the Council of State, or officer of the legislative, executive or judicial branches of State government or counties, cities, towns, villages, other municipal corporations, political subdivisions of the State, public authorities, private corporations created by act of the General Assembly or any firm or corporation receiving State funds shall require the obtaining or holding of any certificate issued under this Chapter or the taking of an examination held pursuant to this Chapter as a requirement for obtaining or continuing in employment.

(d)       Nothing herein shall authorize the practice of medicine as defined in Article 1 of this Chapter or the practice of psychology as defined in Article 18A of this Chapter.

(1983, c. 495, s. 1; 1991, c. 732, s. 2: 1999-313, s. 1.)

 

§ 90B‑5.  North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board; appointments; terms; composition.

(a)       For the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Chapter, there is hereby created the North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board which shall consist of seven members appointed by the Governor as follows:

          (1)       At least two members of the Board shall be Certified Social Workers or Certified Master Social Workers, three members shall be Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and two members shall be appointed from the public at large. Composition of the Board as to the race and sex of its members shall reflect the composition of the population of the State of North Carolina.

          (2)       At all times the Board shall include at least one member primarily engaged in social work education, at least one member primarily engaged in social work in the public sector, and at least one member primarily engaged in social work in the private sector.

          (3)       All members of the Board shall be residents of the State of North Carolina, and with the exception of the public members, shall be certified or licensed by the Board under the provisions of this Chapter. Professional members of the Board must be actively engaged in the practice of social work or in the education and training of students in social work, and have been for at least three years prior to their appointment to the Board. Such activity during the two years preceding the appointment shall have occurred primarily in this State.

(b)       The Governor may only remove a member of the Board for neglect of duty, malfeasance, or conviction of a felony or other crime of moral turpitude.

(c)       The term of office of each member of the Board shall be three years. No member shall serve more than two consecutive three‑year terms. Each term of service on the Board shall expire on the 30th day of June of the year in which the term expires. As the term of a member expires, the Governor shall make the appointment for a full term, or, if a vacancy occurs for any other reason, for the remainder of the unexpired term.

(d)       Members of the Board shall receive compensation for their services and reimbursement for expenses incurred in the performance of duties required by this Chapter, at the rates prescribed in G.S. 93B‑5.

(e)       The Board may employ, subject to the provisions of Chapter 126 of the General Statutes, the necessary personnel for the performance of its functions, and fix their compensation within the limits of funds available to the Board.

(1983, c. 495, s. 1; 1991, c. 732, s. 3; 1999-313, s. 1.)

 

§ 90B‑6.  Functions and duties of the Board.

(a)       The Board shall administer and enforce the provisions of this Chapter.

(b)       The Board shall elect from its membership, a chairperson, a vice‑chairperson, and secretary‑treasurer, and adopt rules to govern its proceedings. A majority of the membership shall constitute a quorum for all Board meetings.

(c)       The Board shall examine and pass on the qualifications of all applicants for certificates and licenses under this Chapter, and shall issue a certificate or license to each successful applicant therefore.

(d)       The Board may adopt a seal which may be affixed to all certificates and licenses issued by the Board.

(e)       The Board may authorize expenditures deemed necessary to carry out the provisions of this Chapter from the fees which it collects, but in no event shall expenditures exceed the revenues of the Board during any fiscal year. No State appropriations shall be subject to the administration of the Board.

(f)        Repealed by Session Laws 1999‑313, s. 1.

(g)       The Board shall have the power to establish or approve study or training courses and to establish reasonable standards for certification, licensure, and renewal of certification and licensure, including the power to adopt or use examination materials and accreditation standards of the Council on Social Work Education or other recognized accrediting agency and the power to establish reasonable standards for continuing social work education; provided that for certificate and license renewal no examination shall be required; provided further, that the Board shall not have the power to withhold approval of study or training courses offered by a college or university having a social work program approved by the Council on Social Work Education.

(h)       Subject to the provisions of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes, the Board shall have the power to adopt rules to carry out the purposes of this Chapter, including but not limited to the power to adopt ethical and disciplinary standards.

(i)        The Board may order that any records concerning the practice of social work and relevant to a complaint received by the Board or an inquiry or investigation conducted by or on behalf of the Board shall be produced by the custodian of the records to the Board or for inspection and copying by representatives of or counsel to the Board.  A social worker licensed by the Board or an agency employing a social worker licensed by the Board shall maintain records for a minimum of three years from the date the social worker terminates services to the client and the client services record is closed.  A social worker certified or licensed by the Board shall cooperate fully and in a timely manner with the Board and its designated representatives in an inquiry or investigation of the records conducted by or on behalf of the Board.

(j)         The Board shall have the power to employ or retain professional personnel, including legal counsel, subject to G.S. 114-2.3, or clerical or other special personnel deemed necessary to carry out the provisions of this Chapter.

(1983, c. 495, s. 1; 1987, c. 827, s. 1; 1995, c. 344, s. 1; 1999-313, s. l, 2005-129, s. 1; 2007-379)

 

§ 90B‑6.1.  Board general provisions.

The Board shall be subject to the administrative provisions of Chapter 93B of the General Statutes.

(1983, c. 495, s. 1.)

 

§ 90B‑6.2.  Fees.

(a)       The Board shall establish fees not exceeding the following amounts:

(1)        All initial applications                               $200.00

(2)        Examination                                             Cost plus an amount not to

                      exceed $40.00

(3)        Repeated examination or any

             additional examination                            Cost plus an amount not to

                      exceed $40.00

(4)        Renewal applications                                $200.00

(5)        Late fees for renewal                                $50.00

(6)        Reinstatement                                         $200.00

(7)        Duplicate license                                      $25.00

(8)        Temporary certificate or license                  $25.00.

(b)       Notwithstanding subdivision (a)(4) of this section, the Board may establish a graduated fee schedule for renewals that is based upon the applicant's level of certification or licensure. The Board may establish fees for the actual cost of duplication services, materials, and returned bank items. All fees derived from services provided by the Board under the provisions of this Chapter shall be nonrefundable. The Board shall maintain accounts of all receipts to the Board.

(1999-313, s. 1.)

 

§ 90B‑7.  Titles and qualifications for certificates and licenses.

(a)       Each person desiring to obtain a certificate or license from the Board shall make application to the Board upon such forms and in such manner as the Board shall prescribe, together with the required application fee established by the Board.

(b)       The Board shall issue a certificate as "Certified Social Worker" to an applicant who meets the following qualifications:

          (1)       Has a bachelors degree in a social work program from a college or university having a social work program accredited or admitted to candidacy for accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education for undergraduate curricula.

          (2)       Has passed the Board examination for the certification of persons in this classification.

(c)       The Board shall issue a certificate as "Certified Master Social Worker" to an applicant who meets the following qualifications:

          (1)       Has a masters or doctoral degree in a social work program from a college or university having a social work program approved by the Council on Social Work Education.

          (2)       Has passed the Board examination for the certification of persons in this classification.

(d)       The Board shall issue a license as a "Licensed Clinical Social Worker" to an applicant who meets the following qualifications:

          (1)       Holds or qualifies for a current certificate as a Certified Master Social Worker.

          (2)       Shows to the satisfaction of the Board that he or she has had two years of clinical social work experience with appropriate supervision in the field of specialization in which the applicant will practice.

          (3)       Has passed the Board examination for the certification of persons in this licensure.

(e)       The Board shall issue a certificate as a "Certified Social Work Manager" to an applicant who meets the following qualifications:

          (1)       Holds or qualifies for a current certificate as a Certified Social Worker.

          (2)       Shows to the satisfaction of the Board that he or she has had two years of experience in an administrative setting with appropriate supervision and training.

          (3)       Has passed the Board examination for the certification of persons in this classification.

(f)        The Board may issue an associate license in clinical social work to a person who has a masters or doctoral degree in a social work program from a college or university having a social work program approved by the Council on Social Work Education and desires to be licensed as a clinical social worker. The associate license may not be issued for a period exceeding two years and the person issued the associate license must practice under the supervision of a licensed clinical social worker or a Board‑approved alternate.  Notwithstanding G.S. 90B-6(g), an associate licensee shall pass the qualifying clinical examination prescribed by the Board within two years to be eligible for renewal of the associate license.  The associate licensee shall complete all requirements for full licensure within three renewal cycles, or a total of six years, unless otherwise directed by the Board.

(1983, c. 495, s. 1; 1991, c. 732, s. 4; 1999-313, s. 1; 2007-379, s. 3; 2012-72, s. 3.)

 

§ 90B‑8.  Persons from other jurisdictions.

(a)       The Board may grant a certificate or license without examination or by special examination to any person who, at the time of application, is certified, registered or licensed as a social worker by a similar board of another country, state, or territory whose certification, registration or licensing standards are substantially equivalent to those required by this Chapter. The applicant shall have passed an examination in the country, state, or territory in which he or she is certified, registered, or licensed that is equivalent to the examination required for the level of certification or licensure sought in this State.

(b)       The Board may issue a temporary license to a nonresident clinical social worker who is either certified, registered, or licensed in another jurisdiction whose standards, in the opinion of the Board, at the time of the person's certification, registration, or licensure were substantially equivalent to or higher than the requirements of this Chapter. Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed as prohibiting a nonresident clinical social worker certified, registered, or licensed in another state from rendering professional clinical social work services in this State for a period of not more than five days in any calendar year. All persons granted a temporary clinical social worker license shall comply with the supervision requirements established by the Board.

(1983, c. 495, s. 1; 1999-313, s. 1.)

 

§ 90B‑9.  Renewal of certificates and licenses.

(a)       All certificates and licenses shall be effective upon date of issuance by the Board, and shall be renewed on or before the second June 30 thereafter.

(b)       All certificates and licenses issued hereunder shall be renewed at the times and in the manner provided by this section. At least 45 days prior to expiration of each certificate or license, the Board shall mail a notice and application for renewal to the certificate holder or licensee.  Prior to the expiration date, the application shall be returned properly completed, together with a renewal fee established by the Board pursuant to G.S. 90B‑6.2(a)(4) and evidence of completion of the continuing education requirements established by the Board pursuant to G.S. 90B‑6(g), upon receipt of which the Board shall renew the certificate or license. If a certificate or license is not renewed on or before the expiration date, an additional fee shall be charged for late renewal as provided in G.S. 90B‑6.2(a)(5).

(c)       A certificate or license issued under this Chapter shall be automatically suspended for failure to renew for a period of more than 60 days after the renewal date. The Board may reinstate a certificate or license suspended under this subsection upon payment of a reinstatement fee as provided in G.S. 90B‑6.2(a)(6) and may require that the applicant file a new application, furnish new supervisory reports or references or otherwise update his or her credentials, or submit to examination for reinstatement.  The Board shall have exclusive jurisdiction to investigate alleged violations of this Chapter by any person whose certificate or license has been suspended under this subsection and, upon proof of any violation of this Chapter, the Board may take disciplinary action as provided in G.S. 90B‑11.

(d)       Any person certified or licensed and desiring to retire temporarily from the practice of social work shall send written notice thereof to the Board. Upon receipt of such notice, his or her name shall be placed upon the nonpracticing list and he or she shall not be subject to payment of renewal fees while temporarily retired. In order to reinstate certification or licensure, the person shall apply to the Board by making a request for reinstatement and paying the appropriate fee as provided in G.S. 90B‑6.2.

(1983, c. 495, s. 1; 1999-313, s. 1.; 2006-226, s. 19.)

 

§ 90B‑10.  Exemption from certain requirements.

(a)       Applicants who were engaged in the practice of social work before January 1, 1984, shall be exempt from the academic qualifications required by this act for Certified Social Workers and Certified Social Work Managers and shall be certified upon passing the Board examination and meeting the experience requirements, if any, for certification of persons in that classification.

(b)       The following may engage in clinical social work practice without meeting the requirements of G.S. 90B‑7(d):

          (1)     Repealed by Session Laws 2007-379, s. r, effective August 19, 2007.
          (2)     A student completing a clinical requirement for graduation while pursuing a course of study in social work in an institution accredited by or in candidacy status with the Council on Social Work Education.
          (3)     Repealed by Session Laws 2007-379, s. 4, effective August 19, 2007.

(c)        Notwithstanding the requirements of G.S. 90B-16, any individual who is employed by an agency of a local or State governmental entity, and who is in a position holding the title of ‘Social Worker’ or any variation of the name, and whose position title is derived from the Office of State Personnel Social Work Series may use the title ‘Social Worker’ or any variation of the title.  This includes persons in such positions in counties whose classification and compensation systems have been certified as substantially equivalent by the State Personnel Commission and persons serving in such positions in Human Services agencies created by counties pursuant to G.S. 153A-77.      

(1983, c. 495, s. 1; 1991, c. 732, s. 5; 1993 – Reg. Sess., 1994, c. 745, s. 38.1; 1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 18, s. 24.11; 1997-443, s. 11.31; 2007-379, 2009-88, s. 2.)

 

§ 90B‑11.  Disciplinary procedures.

(a)       The Board may, in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes, deny, suspend, or revoke an application, certificate, or license on any of the following grounds:

          (1)       Conviction of a misdemeanor or the entering of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a misdemeanor under this Chapter.

          (2)       Conviction of a felony or the entering of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a felony under the laws of the United States or of any state of the United States.

          (3)       Gross unprofessional conduct, dishonest practice or incompetence in the practice of social work.

          (4)       Procuring or attempting to procure a certificate or license by fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.

          (5)       Any fraudulent or dishonest conduct in social work.

          (6)       Inability of the person to perform the functions for which he or she is certified or licensed, or substantial impairment of abilities by reason of physical or mental disability.

          (7)       Violations of any of the provisions of this Chapter or of rules of the Board.

(b)       Upon proof that an applicant, certificate holder, or licensee under this Chapter has engaged in any of the prohibited actions specified in subsection (a) of this section, the Board may, in lieu of denial, suspension, or revocation, take one or more of the following actions:

          (1)        Issue a reprimand or censure.

          (2)        Order probation with conditions deemed appropriate by the Board.

          (3)        Require examination, remediation, or rehabilitation, including care, counseling, or treatment by a professional designated or approved by the Board, the cost of which shall be borne by the applicant, certificate holder, or licensee.

          (4)        Require supervision for the services provided by the applicant, certificate holder, or licensee by a certified or licensed social worker designated and approved by the Board, the cost of which shall be borne by the applicant, certificate holder, or licensee.

          (5)        Limit or circumscribe the practice of social work provided by the applicant, certificate holder, or licensee with respect to the extent, nature, or location of the services provided.

(c)       The Board may impose conditions of probation or restrictions upon continued practice at the conclusion of a period of suspension or as a requirement for the restoration of a revoked or suspended certificate or license. Instead of or in connection with any disciplinary proceeding or investigation, the Board may enter into a consent order with an applicant, certificate holder, or licensee relative to a discipline, supervision, probation, remediation, rehabilitation, or practice limitation.

(d)       In considering whether an applicant, certificate holder, or licensee is mentally or physically capable of practicing social work with reasonable skill and safety, the Board may require an applicant, certificate holder, or licensee to submit to a mental examination by a licensed clinical social worker or other licensed mental health professional designated by the Board and to a physical examination by a physician or other licensed health professional designated by the Board. The examination may be ordered by the Board before or after charges are presented against the applicant, certificate holder, or licensee and the results of the examination shall be reported directly to the Board and shall be admissible in evidence in a hearing before the Board.

(e)       The Board shall provide the opportunity for a hearing under Article 3A of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes to: (i) any person whose certification or licensure was denied or granted subject to restrictions, probation, disciplinary action, remediation, or other conditions or limitations; and (ii) any certificate holder or licensee before revoking or suspending his or her certificate or license or restricting his or her practice or imposing any other disciplinary action or remediation. If the applicant, certificate holder, or licensee waives the opportunity for a hearing, the Board's denial, revocation, suspension, or other action shall be final. No applicant, certificate holder, or licensee shall be entitled to a hearing for failure to pass a qualifying examination.

(f)        In any proceeding before the Board, complaint or notice of charges against any applicant, certificate holder, or licensee, and any decision rendered by the Board, the Board may withhold from public disclosure the identity of any client who has not consented to the public disclosure of social work services provided to him or her by the applicant, certificate holder, or licensee. If necessary for the protection and rights of a client and the full presentation of relevant evidence, the Board may close a hearing to the public and receive evidence involving or concerning the delivery of social work services.

(g)       Records, papers, and other documents containing information collected and compiled by or on behalf of the Board as a result of an investigation, inquiry, or interview conducted in connection with certification, licensure, or a disciplinary matter shall not be considered public records within the meaning of Chapter 132 of the General Statutes. Any notice or statement of charges, notice of hearing, or decision rendered in connection with a hearing, shall be a public record. Information that identifies a client who has not consented to the public disclosure of services rendered to him or her by a person certified or licensed under this Chapter shall be deleted from the public record. All other records, papers, and documents containing information collected and compiled by or on behalf of the Board shall be public records, but any information that identifies a client who has not consented to the public disclosure of services rendered to him or her shall be deleted.

(1983, c. 495, s. 1; 1987, c. 827, s. 1; 1999-313, s. 1.)

 

§ 90B‑12.  Violation a misdemeanor.

Any person violating any provision of this Chapter is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

(1983, c. 495, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 654; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)

 

§ 90B‑13.  Injunction.

As an additional remedy, the Board may proceed in a superior court to enjoin and restrain any person from violating the prohibitions of this Chapter.  The Board shall not be required to post bond in connection with such proceeding.

(1983, c. 495, s. 1.)

 

§ 90B‑14.  Third‑party reimbursements.

Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to authorize or require direct third‑party reimbursement to persons certified under this Chapter.

(1991, c, 732, s, 6,)

 

§ 90B-15.  License or certificate to be displayed.

A person licensed or certified under this Chapter shall conspicuously display the license or certificate issued by the Board at the licensee’s or certificate holder’s primary place of practice.

      (2007-379, s. 5.)

 

§ 90B-16.  Title protection.

(a)        Except as provided in G.S. 90B-10, an individual who (i) is not certified, licensed, or associate licensed by this Chapter as a social worker, (ii) does not hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work from a college or university having a social work program accredited or admitted to candidacy for accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education, or (iii) has not received a doctorate in social work shall not use the title ‘Social Worker’ or any variation of the title.

(b)        The Board is authorized to enforce title protection pursuant to this section in accordance with G.S. 90B-13.

(c)        The Board shall adopt rules to implement this section.

(2009-88, s. 3; 2012-72, s. 4.)