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How to file a complaint

If you are receiving social work services—whether you are paying for them or not—you can file a complaint if you believe a licensed social worker has violated the code of conduct or acted incompetently or unethically. If you are a licensed social worker and know of another licensed social worker who has committed a violation, you may have a duty to report that violation to your social work board, even if the code of ethics says you should first discuss the violation with your colleague.

What happens when I file a complaint?

While complaints may be kept confidential, they are not usually accepted anonymously. You will need to provide your name and contact information to the licensing board, along with as much information as you can about the suspected violation.

Once a complaint is received, the social work board will review the information you provided. If the preliminary review indicates that more information is needed, the board will conduct a thorough investigation.

When the investigation is complete, the board (or a committee of the board) will review the information and make a determination. Often, the social worker who is alleged to have violated the rules will have an opportunity to respond to the complaint and may be required to appear before the board.

Based on the investigation, the response, and the hearing, the board will decide whether to take action against the social worker.

A note about unlicensed practice

In many states, practicing social work without a license or representing oneself as a licensed social worker without actually holding a license is a violation of the law. Contact the social work board to find out more.