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Title 40 - Professions and Occupations
State Board of Social Work Examiners created.
There is created the State Board of Social Work Examiners to be composed of seven members appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, including one lay member, two licensed baccalaureate social workers, three licensed master social workers, and one licensed independent social worker. All members must be residents of the state and the social workers must have been in the active practice of social work for at least five years prior to appointment. The terms of the members are for four years and until their successors are appointed and qualify. Members of the board are eligible for reappointment but may not serve more than two consecutive terms. The board may employ such staff, pursuant to Section 40-73-15, as the Director of the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulations deems necessary to carry out the duties and functions of the board. The board is responsible for examining applicants for social work licenses, investigating complaints, and investigating and prosecuting violations of this chapter. The board may promulgate regulations to carry out the provisions of this chapter. The Governor may remove a member who is guilty of continued neglect of his duties or who is incompetent or unprofessional. No member may be removed without an opportunity to refute the charges filed against him. He must be given a copy of the charges at the time they are filed. Vacancies on the board must be filled by appointment by the Governor for the unexpired portion of the term.
Membership of board; disqualification; seal; mileage, expenses, etc.
The members of the board shall qualify by taking an oath of office before a notary public or other officer authorized to administer oaths in this State. At the first meeting of the board in each calendar year the board must elect a president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer from its membership. A majority of the members of the board constitutes a quorum. Regular meetings must be held at least four times a year. Special meetings may be held upon the call of the president or any two members of the board.
If a board member is disqualified and his absence results in the lack of a quorum or an adequate number of members to perform official functions, the Governor may deputize an individual to replace him during the period of disqualification. The deputized individual shall meet the same qualifications as the member he is replacing and shall take the same oath as required of other members of the board.
The board shall have a seal and the impression must be attached to all official documents issued by it. The board shall keep a full record of all its proceedings and maintain a complete registry of all licensed social workers.
Each member may receive for his services mileage, expenses, subsistence, and per diem as provided by law for members of state boards, committees, and commissions.
Powers of Board with respect to investigation, proceedings, and enforcement.
For the purpose of any investigation or proceeding under the provisions of this chapter, the board or any person designated by it may administer oaths and affirmations, subpoena witnesses, take evidence, and require the production of any documents or records which the board considers relevant to the inquiry. In the case of contumacy by, or refusal to obey a subpoena issue to, any person, an administrative law judge as provided under Article 5 of Chapter 23 of Title 1, upon application of the board, may issue an order requiring the person to appear before the board or the person designated by it and produce documentary evidence and to give other evidence concerning the matter under inquiry. Whenever the board has reason to believe that any person is violating or intends to violate any provision of this chapter it may order, in addition to all other remedies, the person immediately to desist and refrain from such conduct. The board may apply to an administrative law judge as provided under Article 5 of Chapter 23 of Title 1 for an injunction restraining the person from such conduct. An administrative law judge may issue a temporary injunction ex parte and upon notice and full hearing may issue any other order in the matter it considers proper. No bond is required of the board by an administrative law judge as a condition to the issuance of any injunction or order contemplated by the provisions of this section.
Revenues and income; assessments, fees, or licenses; annual report.
All revenues and income from licenses, examination fees, other fees, sale of commodities and services, and income derived from any board source or activity must be remitted to the State Treasurer as collected, when practicable, but at least once each week, and credited to the general fund of the State. All assessments, fees, or licenses must be levied in an amount sufficient to at least equal the amount appropriated in the annual general appropriation act for the board, plus any additional funds allocated by the Budget and Control Board for implementation of the State's Personnel Compensation Plan.
The annual report required by Chapter 73 of this title must be made by the board in accordance with the provisions of that chapter.
Definitions; use of titles; penalties.
A person is regarded as a "Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker", "Licensed Master Social Worker", or "Licensed Independent Social Worker", within the meaning of this chapter, who meets the qualifications and requirements prescribed in this chapter and who is licensed by the Board of Social Work Examiners. It is unlawful for any person who is not qualified and licensed in the manner prescribed in this chapter to use the title "Social Worker", "Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker", "Licensed Master Social Worker", or "Licensed Independent Social Worker", or to use the title Social Worker within any other professional title. Any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than one hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days, or both.
"Social work practice" defined.
For the purposes of this chapter, "social work practice" means service and action to effect changes in human behavior, a person's emotional responses, and the social conditions of individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. For the purpose of this definition, the practice of social work is guided by special knowledge, acquired through formal professional social work education, of social welfare policies and services, social welfare systems and resources, human development and behavior within the context of the social environment, and methods of bringing about change in individuals, families, groups, communities, and social welfare organizations. Social work practice involves the disciplined application of social work values, principles, and methods. Social work practice includes, but is not restricted to, the following activities:
(1) utilizing professional social work knowledge and methods to conduct a variety of counseling activities and therapeutic approaches, including psychotherapy (excluding the prescribing of medicine), with individuals, families, and groups in order to improve emotional adjustment, enhance psychological and social functioning, or effect behavioral changes;
(2) utilizing professional social work knowledge and methods to explain and interpret the psychological aspects of a situation to individuals, families, or groups;
(3) utilizing professional social work knowledge and methods to explain and provide general assistance, information, and referral services and other supportive services;
(4) utilizing professional social work knowledge and methods to provide resources to meet basic human needs;
(5) utilizing professional social work knowledge and methods to help organizations and communities analyze social problems and human needs in order to plan and provide appropriate social services;
(6) utilizing professional social work knowledge and methods to assist organizations and communities to develop their capacity for general neighborhood or community improvement;
(7) utilizing professional social work knowledge and methods to develop policies, plans, and programs to address social needs and improve social conditions;
(8) utilizing professional social work knowledge and methods to supervise employees engaged in the direct delivery of social services.
Qualifications for licensure.
An applicant for licensure as a Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker must: (1) have a baccalaureate degree from a social work or social welfare program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or from a social work welfare program offered by a regionally-accredited institution and have passed an examination conducted by the board, or (2) have a baccalaureate degree in sociology or psychology from a regionally-accredited institution if the board finds that the training was substantially equivalent to that obtained in social work or social welfare programs and have passed an examination conducted by the board.
An applicant for licensure as a Licensed Master Social Worker must have a master's or doctoral degree from a social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and must have passed an examination conducted by the board.
An applicant for licensure as a Licensed Independent Social Worker must have a master's or doctoral degree from a social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education plus post-graduate social work education as approved by the board, have two years of professionally supervised experience satisfactory to the board in those services to be provided in private or independent practice, and have passed an examination conducted by the board.
The board shall conduct at least one examination each year for persons who desire to become a Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker, a Licensed Master Social Worker, or a Licensed Independent Social Worker. Any person desiring to be examined by the board shall make application and pay a fee to the board in the manner prescribed by the board.
Qualification for licensure by presently practicing social workers.
Until one year from the appointment of the board, an applicant for certification and licensure may, in lieu of the requirements established in Section 40-63-70, qualify for licensure by demonstrating to the satisfaction of the board that the applicant is presently practicing social work within this State at the level for which application is made, or is presently practicing social work within the South Carolina Department of Social Services having a minimum of sixty hours or equivalent of college credits and is applying for licensure as a Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker. Persons licensed under terms of this section remain subject to all requirements of this chapter, excepting those in Section 40-63-70. No current employee or agent of the State employed by or with the State on or before July 1, 1989, who practices social work as defined in this chapter may be denied licensure or relicensure by the board so long as they remain employed by or with the State, and so long as they comply with all the other requirements of this chapter, excepting those in Section 40-63-70.
Continuing education; lapse of license.
The board by regulation may require continuing education of every person licensed under the provisions of this chapter and the payment of an annual license renewal fee. Upon the payment of the fee and the fulfillment of requirements for continuing education, the license of any person licensed under the provisions of this chapter must be renewed by the board.
Any licensee who allows his license to lapse by failing to renew the license as provided in this section may be reinstated by the board upon satisfactory explanation by the licensee of his failure to renew his license and upon payment of a reinstatement fee and the current renewal fee to be determined by regulation promulgated by the board. If a license has lapsed for more than one year, the board may impose further educational requirements for reinstatement.
Any person practicing as a social worker during the time his license has lapsed is an illegal practitioner and is subject to penalties provided for in Section 40-63-50.
Title and initials; display of license.
A social worker licensed under the provisions of this chapter, upon payment of the prescribed fee, may use the title appearing on his license and the corresponding letters ("LBSW" for "Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker"; "LMSW" for "Licensed Master Social Worker"; or "LISW" for "Licensed Independent Social Worker") following his name, unless the license has been revoked or suspended or has lapsed. Every person to whom a license is issued shall display the license in a prominent place in his office or place of employment.
Complaint, investigation, and accusation against licensed social worker.
The board may receive complaints by any person against a licensed social worker and require the complaints to be submitted in written form. Upon receipt of a complaint, the secretary, or other person as the president may designate, shall investigate the allegations in the complaint and make a report to the board concerning his investigation. In instances where a board member makes the initial investigation or complaint, he shall not sit with the board at the hearing of such complaint. If the board desires to proceed further it may file, in its discretion, a formal accusation charging the social worker with a violation of a provision of this chapter. The accusation must be signed by the president or vice-president on behalf of the board. When the accusation is filed and the board has set a date and place for hearing, the secretary of the board shall notify the accused in writing not less than thirty days prior to the hearing and a copy of the accusation must be attached to the notice. The notice must be served personally or sent to the accused by registered mail, return receipt requested, directed to his last mailing address furnished to the board. The post office registration receipt signed by the accused, his agent, or a responsible member of his household or office staff or, if not accepted by the person whom addressed, the postal authority stamp showing the notice refused is prima facie evidence of service of the notice.
The accused may appear and show cause why his license should not be suspended or revoked or other disciplinary action taken. The accused has the right to be confronted with and to cross-examine the witnesses against him and the right to counsel. For the purposes of the hearings, the board may require by subpoena the attendance of witnesses, the production of documents, may administer oaths and hear testimony, either oral or documentary, for and against the accused. All investigations and proceedings undertaken under the provisions of this chapter must be confidential.
Every communication, whether oral or written, made by or on behalf of any complainant to the board or its agents or any hearing panel or member, pursuant to this chapter, whether by way of complaint or testimony, is privileged and no action or proceeding, civil or criminal, lies against any person by whom or on whose behalf such communication has been made, except upon proof that such communication was made with malice.
No part of this chapter prohibits the respondent or his legal counsel from exercising the respondent's constitutional right of due process under the law nor prohibits the respondent from normal access to the charges and evidence filed against him as a part of due process under the law.
Disciplinary action against a licensed social worker.
The board may revoke, suspend, or otherwise restrict the license of any social worker or reprimand or otherwise discipline him when it is established that the license holder is guilty of misconduct as defined in this chapter.
Misconduct, which constitutes grounds for revocation, suspension, or restriction of a license, or limitation on, reprimand, or other discipline of a social worker is a satisfactory showing to the board that:
(1) any false, fraudulent, or forged statement or document has been used, or any fraudulent, deceitful, or dishonest act has been practiced by the holder of a license or certificate in connection with any of the license requirements;
(2) the holder of a license has been convicted of a felony or any other crime involving moral turpitude. Forfeiture of a bond or a plea of nolo contendere must be considered the equivalent of a conviction;
(3) the holder of a license practiced social work while under either the influence of alcohol or drugs to such a degree as to adversely affect his ability to practice;
(4) the holder of a license uses alcohol or drugs to such a degree as to adversely affect his ability to practice social work;
(5) the holder of a license has knowingly performed any act which in any way assists a person to practice social work illegally;
(6) the holder of a license has caused to be published or circulated directly or indirectly any fraudulent, false, or misleading statements as to the skill or methods of practice of any social work;
(7) the holder of a license has failed to provide and maintain reasonable sanitary facilities;
(8) the holder of a license has sustained any physical or mental impairment or disability which renders further practice by him dangerous to the public;
(9) the holder of a license has violated the principles of ethics as adopted by the board and published in its rules;
(10) the holder of a license is guilty of obtaining fees or assisting in obtaining fees under deceptive, false, or fraudulent circumstances;
(11) the holder of a license is guilty of the use of any intentionally false or fraudulent statement in any document connected with the practice of social work;
(12) the holder of a license has been found by the board to lack the professional competence to practice;
(13) the holder of a license has violated any provision of this chapter regulating the practice of social work, or regulations issued pursuant to this chapter.
In addition to all other remedies and actions incorporated in this chapter, the license of a social worker adjudged mentally incompetent by any court of proper jurisdiction is automatically suspended by the board until he is adjudged competent by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Revocation or suspension of license; reprimand.
If the board is satisfied that the social worker is guilty of any offense charged in the formal accusation provided for in this chapter, it shall revoke, suspend, reprimand, or otherwise take any other reasonable action short of revocation or suspension, such as requiring the licensee to undertake additional professional training subject to the direction and supervision of the board. The board also may impose such restraint upon the licensee as circumstances warrant until the licensee demonstrates to the board adequate professional competence. In all cases where disciplinary action is taken by the board, written notice of the action must then be mailed by the secretary of the board to the accused at his last known address as provided to the board.
Any final order of the board finding that a social worker is guilty of any offense charged in a formal accusation must become public knowledge except for a final order dismissing the accusation or determining that a private reprimand is in order. All final orders which are made public must be mailed to local and state professional associations, and all firms or facilities with which the respondent is associated, states where the social worker has a license known to the board, and to any other source that the board wishes to furnish this information.
A decision by the board to revoke, suspend, or otherwise restrict the license must be by majority vote and is subject to review by an administrative law judge as provided under Article 5 of Chapter 23 of Title 1.
Nothing in this chapter prevents:
(1) a person from practicing social work to whom the board has issued a temporary license as defined in Section 40-63-140;
(2) any person licensed or registered to practice social work under the laws of another state or any territory of the United States that imposes substantially the same requirements as this chapter from practicing social work upon satisfactory presentation of evidence of the license to the board;
(3) members of the clergy and licensed, registered, certified or qualified professionals such as physicians, teachers, nurses, psychologists, and attorneys from practicing their profession and delivering similar services within the scope of their respective practices provided they do not hold themselves out to the public by any title or description as being social workers as defined under this section;
(4) employees of licensed hospitals in this State from performing services commonly within the definition of social work so long as the services are performed within the course of and scope of their employment as an employee of the hospital. No regular employee of a licensed hospital in this State is required to be licensed as a condition of employment by or performance of such services;
(5) persons from rendering services that are the same as or similar to those within the scope of practice provided for in this chapter so long as the provider receives no remuneration from any source for the delivery of the service;
(6) students who are enrolled in recognized programs of study leading to social work degrees from practicing social work under the supervision of any social worker licensed under this chapter.
The board may issue a temporary license to any person who pays the temporary license fee as prescribed by regulation by the board and:
(1) enters or agrees to enter into a course of study as prescribed by regulation by the board;
(2) holds a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree from an accredited college or university;
(3) is employed or is to be employed under the supervision of a licensed social worker.
The temporary license is valid for one year and may be renewed only one time. If a person who holds a temporary license under this section does not successfully complete the course of study as prescribed by the board pursuant to this section and does not successfully pass the board-prescribed examination within two years from the date of initial issuance of the temporary license, the permanent license must be denied by the board.
No license fee, renewal fee, or reinstatement fee in excess of fifty dollars may be established by the board.