1.2.12. Special Compliance Review Policy

Social work programs are responsible for implementing, demonstrating, and maintaining compliance with the CSWE Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) and all accreditation requirements during, and between accreditation reviews.

The accreditation status obtained at initial accreditation or reaffirmation applies to accreditation standards that were reviewed in the benchmarks or self-study at the time of the Commission on Accreditation (COA) review. 

Programs are accountable to the set of EPAS under which they are currently operating. The COA may issue implementation timelines, requirements, and guidance when a new set of EPAS is published that may impact which set of standards the program is accountable to for compliance. 

Programs are encouraged to implement interim plans to remain compliant during times of change or transitions. It is expected that programs understand, implement, and maintain compliance with the EPAS at all times. Should the program request additional information or believe a special compliance review of the program is warranted, a program’s primary contact may initiate one or both of the following:

Request a Letter from the Department of Social Work Accreditation (DOSWA)

The program’s primary contact may request a customized letter from the program’s accreditation specialist via email clarifying EPAS and accreditation requirements. 

Refer to section 1.2.7: Information Sharing and Release of COA Decision Letter for more information about the primary contact’s role and process for requesting a customized letter.

Program-Initiated Special Compliance Review   

The program’s primary contact may request a program-initiated special compliance review by emailing the program’s accreditation specialist. When requested, the following process will be initiated: 

  1. DOSWA staff will attempt to arrange a courtesy phone call with the program’s primary contact to discuss the issue and explain next steps. If DOSWA staff are unable to schedule a call within 30-days, the process will proceed to the next step. 
  2. The program will receive an email communication from DOSWA staff initiating the special compliance review process. DOSWA staff will request a report due within 30-days, including:
    • A formal written response to the relevant standard(s) in question as well as a time-bound plan of action for addressing any identified issues. 
    • The program’s plan should detail and demonstrate its good faith effort and due diligence to restore full compliance within three (3) months from the date the report is submitted.
  3. The accreditation specialist will refer the report for substantiation and action by the Commission on Accreditation Executive Committee at their next regularly scheduled meeting. 
  4. Within 30-days days following the COA meeting, the program will receive a letter indicating the COA’s decision. 

COA-Initiated Special Compliance Review

The Commission on Accreditation reserves the authority to initiate a special compliance review at any time. 

Annual Collection of Program Assessment Outcomes

DOSWA staff review assessment outcomes annually between and during regularly scheduled accreditation reviews. This process is a continuing accreditation requirement, independent of any regularly scheduled review that may be underway. Program assessment outcomes are published publicly in the Directory of Accredited Programs. Programs are required to use the most updated form available on the CSWE website to report outcomes to their stakeholders and the public. Specific instructions will be sent to programs by DOSWA staff regarding this annual collection process. Failure to maintain updated assessment outcomes may result in a special compliance review. 

COA Executive Committee Special Compliance Review Decisions

Find Program in Compliance with the EPAS and/or Accreditation Requirements and Concludes Special Compliance Review  The COA finds the program in compliance with all educational policies and accreditation standards and/or accreditation requirements. The special compliance review concludes, no further action is required. A letter is sent to the program. 
Request a Progress Report to be Reviewed by the COA Executive Committee, COA Workgroup, or Accreditation Specialist  The COA finds the program in compliance with all educational policies and accreditation standards and/or accreditation requirements but identifies one or more areas of concern that must be addressed in a progress report. A letter is sent to the program identifying specific areas of concern and a due date for the progress report.
Defer Decision for One Meeting and Request Clarifying Information to be Reviewed by the COA Executive Committee or COA Workgroup The COA finds that the program’s documentation is insufficient to make a decision, so the program must submit documentation or clarification necessary for COA to make a decision at the next meeting. A letter is sent to the program. 
Order a Modified Site Visit 
(In-person or Virtual)
The COA believes that the program may be out of compliance with one or more educational policies or accreditation standards and/or accreditation requirements. A letter is sent to the program. A site visitor or commissioner visitor is sent, at the program’s expense, onsite or virtually with instructions to review specific compliance issues and the program is reviewed at the next COA meeting following the visit.
Place the Program on Conditional Accredited Status The COA finds the program out of compliance with one or more educational policies or accreditation standards and/or accreditation requirements and places it on conditional accredited status if it believes that noncompliance issues can be resolved by the program within one (1) year. A letter is sent to the program identifying specific areas of noncompliance. Conditional status is an adverse decision, and programs may request reconsideration. If the program accepts the COA’s decision, it submits a restoration report.
Initiate Withdrawal of Accredited Status The COA initiates withdrawal of accredited status if the program is found to be out of compliance with one or more educational policies or accreditation standards and/or accreditation requirements and the COA does not believe that noncompliance issues can be resolved within one (1) year. A letter is sent to the program identifying specific areas of noncompliance and instructs the program to work with its accreditation specialist to arrange for the graduation or transfer of its students and determine when the program’s accreditation will be withdrawn. The decision to initiate withdrawal of accredited status is an adverse one, and programs may request reconsideration. After its official withdrawal date, a program may apply for candidacy status.

Related Policies

Refer to section 1.2.1. Complaints Regarding Program Compliance in the EPAS Handbook. Persons, groups, or organizations related to the program that wish to file a formal complaint to the COA Complaints must pertain to matters related to program compliance with accreditation standards and educational policy. The COA is not authorized to adjudicate, arbitrate, or mediate individual faculty or student grievances against a program. The COA may select one from a variety of decision types as a result of a complaint review, including adverse actions. 

Refer to section 1.2.4 Program Changes in the EPAS Handbook detailing which changes impact compliance with EPAS and require reporting to the COA or DOSWA. Changes may take place within the program prior to its next scheduled accreditation review.

Refer to section 1.2.11 Document Submission Policy in the EPAS Handbook detailing submission requirements for all accreditation reports.