The next deadline for licensure renewal is November 30, 2017!
What follows is a thorough description of the policies of the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) on continuing education for social workers.
Illinois social workers (LSWs and LCSWs) must complete 30 CEUs (equal to 30 clock hours of continuing education) within every two-year period in order to remain licensed. Three (3) of the thirty (30) hours must be specifically in the ethical practice of social work; an additional three must be in cultural competency. Also, effective December 1, 2013, a minimum of 50% of the total continuing education unit (CEU) hours required must be obtained by a method that includes face-to-face, in-person instruction or experience. According to IDFPR, live-virtual workshops DO NOT qualify as face-to-face, in-person instruction. The deadline for license renewal is November 30 of every odd-numbered year, regardless of when you obtained your license. Even if you become licensed in November of the renewal year, you still have to renew your license at the end of the month (unless otherwise noted by the state board).
You should receive a yellow postcard reminder for renewal of licensure around the middle of October in every odd-numbered year. You do not have to submit copies of your CEUs at the time you renew your license unless you are renewing after the November 30th deadline. IDFPR conducts a set of random audits after the renewal deadline; if you are audited, this is when you will have to provide proof of your continuing education.
You do not have to comply with CE requirements for the remainder of the renewal period in which you first get your license. (You do still have to renew your license, you are just not responsible for the CEUs.) This CEU grace period is up to two-years long, depending on when you become licensed. If you do not know when your license was issued, see the IDFPR website (www.idfpr.com) feature “License Look-Up.”
In 2011, IDFPR implemented a system by which Illinois professionals are required to renew their license online. You can also renew your license via telephone. We highly recommend renewing online—it is reliable and you will receive your renewed license in a shorter time span. You may not renew by telephone until you receive your renewal postcard in the mail. You may also print your renewal form online. Information about this system is available on IDFPR’s website: https://www.idfpr.com/Renewals/SW.asp.
NOTE: If IDFPR does not have your current address, they cannot send you your renewal reminders. Please notify them of address changes on their website. Even if you’re sure they have your address, if you haven’t received your licensure renewal postcard by the beginning of November in an odd-numbered year, call IDFPR to make sure you get it or visit their website. Under state law, failure to receive your postcard reminder does not constitute an acceptable extenuating circumstance for late renewal. You can be fined or have your license suspended if you renew late.
How to Earn Your CEUs:
Social workers are eligible for CEUs in the following ways, under the Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act, section 1470.95:
- Verified attendance at or participation in a program or course that is offered or sponsored by an approved continuing education sponsor. (The NASW-Illinois Chapter and most of the NASW affiliates are approved providers in Illinois.)
- A minimum of 50% of the total continuing education unit (CEU) hours required must be obtained by a method that includes face-to-face, in-person instruction or experience.
- Completion of a self-study course that is offered by an approved sponsor. Each self-study course shall include an examination. There is a 15 CEU limit on the amount of self-study courses eligible per renewal period.
- Participation in postgraduate training programs or social work related courses that are a part of the curriculum of a college, university, or graduate school of social work. (15 CEUs for each semester hour. 10 CEUs for each quarter hour)
- Verified teaching in a college, university, or graduate school of social work approved in accordance with the Social Work Practice Act, or as an instructor of continuing education programs given by approved sponsors. Credit will be applied at the rate of 1.5 hours for every hour taught and only for the first presentation of the program (i.e. credit will not be allowed for repetitious presentations of the same program).
- Authoring papers, publications, or books and for preparing presentations and exhibits. The preparation of each published paper, book chapter or presentation dealing with social work or clinical social work may be claimed as five hours of credit. A presentation must be before a professional audience. You may not claim additional credit for presenting the same information more than once.
To access the complete set of continuing education requirements, see the Social Work and Clinical Social Work Practice Act at www.idfpr.com part 1470.95. If you do not have Internet access, you may request this document from IDFPR by mail: 320 W. Washington, Third Floor, Springfield, IL 62786.
Thinking of cutting corners? Think again.
If you earn more than 30 CEUs in a two-year period, the “extra” CEUs do not carry over into the next period. This means that even if you have 100 CEUs this period, you are still required to earn at least 30 in the next period. Likewise, any CEUs earned in the previous period will not apply toward renewal of licensure for this period.
In the event that you have extenuating circumstances which have kept you from accumulating the required CEUs or make it impossible to accumulate 15 hours of CEUs in-person, IDFPR allows you to apply for a waiver of the continuing education requirements. If you request a waiver, you must pay a fee and apply for it before the end of the licensure period. IDFPR then examines your request and determines whether you meet the qualifications for a waiver (listed below). You are considered in good standing until the Social Work Licensing and Disciplinary Board makes its final ruling on your request.
A waiver may be granted because of:
- Full-time service in the armed forces of the US during a substantial part of the prerenewal period;
- An incapacitating illness documented by a statement from a currently licensed physician;
- A physical inability to travel to the sites of approved programs documented by a currently licensed physician;
- Any other similarly extenuating circumstances.
Obviously, that last category makes the law ambiguous, since almost anything could potentially be considered an extenuating circumstance. However, there is no way you can know if you qualify until you pay the fee and file the application. NASW strongly recommends not applying for a waiver if you are unsure whether you qualify. Remember that you are dealing with a government agency not accustomed to making exceptions, and if they do not find in your favor, you could lose your license. Get your CEUs if at all possible. Better safe than sorry.
Are your CEUs accepted in Illinois?
If you are considering taking a course that you are not sure offers CEUs, contact the sponsor of the course prior to attending and make sure they have one of the following two things:
- A certified provider number issued by the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR)—this number will be a 9-digit number beginning with 159.
- A co-sponsorship with an organization that has a certified provider number.
If you take a course from an organization that is not a certified provider of CEUs at the time of the event, you may not claim CEUs after the fact. The only exception to this is if the course was approved for CEUs in another state before it was taught. (See the procedure for claiming out-of-state CEUs below.)
Important note: The Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) does not recognize provider numbers from other states unless it is specifically stated in the social work rules (like an NASW affiliate). If you have a CEU certificate issued by a provider in another state, it may not be applicable to your CEU requirement in Illinois.
- If your certificate was issued by an out-of-state agency other than NASW, you are required to submit it to IDFPR, and for a fee they will consider approving it for Illinois CEUs. The fee varies depending on the nearness to the licensure expiration. You must apply before you attend the workshop and more than 90 days before November 30th of an odd-numbered year (i.e. before September 1), with the fee of $25.00. If you apply after the workshop and it is after September 1st of the odd year, the fee increases to $150.00. Contact IDFPR.
Most questions may be answered on the IDFPR website. NASW strongly recommends accessing their website before contacting the IDFPR by telephone, as their lines are frequently busy.