The College created the following practice guidelines for members which came into effect September 1, 2009: Custody and Access Assessments, Medication Practices and Consent and Confidentiality with Children and Youth.

The guidelines were finalized following consultation with members and other stakeholders and were approved by Council in May 2009. They may be downloaded by clicking on the links below. Hard copies are also available on request by contacting the College at 416-972-9882 or toll-free at 1-877-828-9380.

The Practice Guidelines contain information and practice advice which should be considered by members of the College. The guidelines are designed to assist members in interpreting and applying the College’s standards to particular circumstances or contexts of practice and to provide additional guidance to members on practice issues.

It should be noted that the guidelines are not themselves standards of practice and have not been enacted by regulation or College bylaw. The College’s standards, which are the minimum standards applicable to all College members, are the ones set out in the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998, the regulations under the Act, the College’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice and the College’s bylaws. Those College standards prevail over the guidelines. However, the guidelines may still be used by the College (or other bodies) to assist in determining whether appropriate standards of practice and professional conduct have been maintained by a College member in a particular case.

Custody and Access Assessments

These Guidelines were developed for social workers in Ontario who conduct custody/access assessments. Throughout the guidelines the term custody/access is used to indicate custody and/or access. The term “custody access assessment” is used to refer to any comprehensive clinical exploration of the needs of a child within the context of his/her family and environment, relevant to custody and/or access, whether or not it occurs in the context of anticipated or pending litigation, or in the absence of litigation, or pursuant to any legislation, regulations or rules and regardless of the context in which the social worker who conducts the assessment practises.

Custody and Access Assessments


Medication Practices

These Guidelines were developed for social workers and social service workers in Ontario who work in settings in which client services include providing medication. Hospitals, residential treatment centres, group homes and community-based programs such as Assertive Community Treatment Teams (ACTT) are a few such examples. Members may be confronted with situations involving assisting clients with medications and may be unsure about whether or not to assume these tasks. Since administration of medication is not a primary area of competence for social workers or social service workers, it is essential for members to understand and consider the relevant issues before making a decision about whether to carry out the task.

Medication Practices


Consent and Confidentiality with Children and Youth

These Guidelines were developed for social workers and social service workers in Ontario who encounter dilemmas pertaining to consent and confidentiality with clients who are children and youth. Such dilemmas may arise working in practice contexts such as schools, hospitals, community health settings, child welfare, residential settings or private practice. There are many pieces of legislation that are relevant when working with children and youth, as well as standards of practice that apply. The guidelines contain Decision Trees related to Consent and Confidentiality Issues to assist members in thinking through their professional obligations to make sound practice decisions.

Consent and Confidentiality with Children and Youth


If you have any questions regarding the guidelines, please email the College’s Professional Practice Department or call 416-972-9882 or 1-877-828-9380.