A licensee to the NC Social Work Certification and Licensure Board who is accused of an ethics violation will receive a letter from the Board outlining the complaint. Licensed clinical social workers who receive such a letter should not panic. The first thing a licensee should do is read the letter carefully as it discusses the Board’s administrative code. The letter should be accompanied by the actual complaint which explains in detail what is alleged. The NC SWCLB does provide the licensed clinical social worker with a lot of information related to the allegation. This includes documents submitted by the complainant and any audio or video that is relevant to the allegation. Below we go into the complaint process for the NC Social Work Certification and Licensure Board.
What Do I Do Initially Once Contacted by NC SWCLB?
After carefully reading the letter and documents sent from the NC SWCLB, a licensee should contact an attorney. From there, the licensee should start working on drafting a written response to the allegations. The licensee must sign and notarize a written response to the Board. It is due back to the NC SWCLB within 21 days from receipt of the Board’s letter by the licensee. An attorney can help the licensed clinical social worker stick to the facts of the matter in the licensee’s response. An extension of time for the response can be requested and will most likely be granted.
What Happens After I Have Submitted My Response to the Board?
Once a licensee submits his/her response to the Board the complaint and response are reviewed by the Board’s ethics coordinator. A formal investigation is commenced at this point after an investigator is assigned. The investigator will contact witnesses and may reach out to the licensed clinical social worker for an interview. At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will submit a formal investigative summary to a Subcommittee of the Board. Two seated members of the Board make up the Subcommittee. Discussed below are the next steps of the Subcommittee.
What are the Next Steps to My Case Once the Subcommittee is Assigned?
The NC SWCLB Subcommittee has a number of options under NCGS 90B-11. The Subcommittee can dismiss the case if they find no evidence of an ethical violation. They can close the case with a letter of concern, which remains private. The Subcommittee can seek restrictions or limitations on the licensee’s license or recommend formal discipline. That formal discipline can be a public reprimand with conditions, or a suspension or revocation. The licensee can reject any voluntary consent order offered to the licensee. If that occurs, then the licensee will request a formal hearing with the full Board. Another option for the Subcommittee is to just recommend that the case proceed to a formal hearing.
The main thing a licensed clinical social worker, associate, or other licensee to the NC SWCLB should remember is do not panic. Receiving a letter from a licensing board can be a scary thing. There are a number of outcomes that can affect your livelihood. However, responding in an articulate and well thought out manner can drastically help reduce your chances of license discipline.
Nothing in this blog post is legal advice or establishes the attorney-client relationship. This is for informational purposes only. If you’d like to learn more about professional licensing issues in North Carolina check out our site at www.northstatelawfirm.com or our YouTube site here. 919-521-8810 is the direct line to North State Law.