Continuing Education Requirement for Training in Cultural Competence

Public Act 13-76: An Act Requiring Licensed Social Workers, Counselors and Therapists to Complete Continuing Education Course Work in Cultural Competency took effect on October 1, 2013. Under this Act licensed mental health providers, including LMSWs and LCSWs, who have a continuing education requirement must attain at least one hour per license year of training or education on the topic of cultural competency. On or after October 1, 2013 when a license is renewed the requirement for cultural competency begins.

Definition of Cultural Competence:  “Possession of the knowledge, attitudes, understanding, self-awareness, and practice skills that enable a professional person to serve clients from diverse socioethnic backgrounds. In the NASW Code of Ethics (section 1.05), cultural competence and social diversity have three components: (a) that social workers should understand culture and its functions and the strengths that exist in all cultures, (b) that they should have knowledge about their clients’ cultures and differences among cultural groups, and (c) that they should seek education and understanding about the nature of social diversity and oppression for all cultural groups. “ Source: The Social Work Dictionary, 5th Edition, NASW.

Topics that Generally Qualify: The topics that qualify under the Cultural Competency requirement include, but are not limited to: training related to race, ethnicity, language diversity, immigrant or refugee status, religion, age, sexual orientation and disability. As stated in the NASW Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work, “The word ‘culture’ is used because it implies the integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of  a racial, ethnic, religious, or social group. Culture often is referred to as the totality of ways being passed on from generation to generation. The term culture includes ways in which people with disabilities or people who are gay, lesbian, or transgender experience the world around them.” Though not specified in the Standards we include in diversity intersexed individuals and how they experience the world around them.

How Do I Know if Training Meets the Requirement? Continuing education providers may state that the program meets the requirement in the program publicity. NASW/CT continuing education programs will include language stating that the program meets the requirement for cultural competence along with the number of continuing education credits offered. If the provider does not include such a statement the attendee should use the above definition as guidance. Programs that include at least one hour of content related to cultural competence within a longer program qualifies.

It is important to remember that all continuing education hours that are being applied to renewing of the social work license in Connecticut must be approved by National Association of Social Workers, Association of Social Work Boards, or an undergraduate or graduate program of social work approved by the Council of Social Work Education.

Amount of Training Required: The requirement is at least one hour of training on cultural competency per license year. In-person, webinar, online and home study all qualify. Keep in mind however that the total number of home study/online education allowed per license year is 10 hours.

Further Guidance and Resources: For further guidance on culturally competence and culturally competent practice we recommend reviewing the NASW  Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work available to NASW members online at  The Indicators for the Achievement of the NASW Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice is also a valuable resource and is available online at

This information is presented as service of NASW/CT and is not to be construed as legal advice.