What happens when a complaint is received?
The Board reviews all complaints. If the Board believes that there may be a violation of the Social Work Practice Act (the Act), the complaint is referred for investigation.
After the investigation is completed, the Board can vote to dismiss the matter if it is determined that there has been no violation of the Act.
If there has been a violation of the Act, the Board may take informal action by issuing a Letter of Education or a Letter of Admonishment to the social worker. These are nonpublic documents and are not subject to disclosure to anyone but the licensee.
The Board may vote to charge the social worker with the particular violation of the Act. At that time, the case is referred to the Office of the Attorney General for prosecution. The case may be resolved with a Case Resolution Conference or may proceed to a hearing. Either of these could result in formal disciplinary action, such as the license of the social worker being suspended or revoked, or the licensee being placed on probation. This information is public, published in the Board's newsletter, and reported to the Association of Social Work Boards, which shares information throughout the country about persons who have had formal disciplinary action.
The complainant is informed in writing of the results of the Board's investigation.
The investigative process usually takes three months and some situations may take longer depending on various factors. If the investigation is referred to the Office of the Attorney General for prosecution, the process is lengthened substantially. There are twenty-one (21) possible grounds for discipline contained in the Maryland Statute governing the practice of social work. (Health Occupations Title 19 - Social Workers - 2000 Edition - Section 19-311.)In addition, a complaint may be brought against a licensee due to a violation of the Code of Ethics. (Code of Maryland Regulations 10.42 Chapter 3.
The Board may deny a license to any applicant, fine a licensee, reprimand any licensee, place any licensee on probation, or suspend or revoke a license if it is determined that an applicant or licensee has violated the statute or regulations governing the practice of social work.
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