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Social workers may be forced to train and register

At the moment anyone can work as a social worker, but the Social Development minister says it's time that changed.

At the moment anybody can work as one but the Social Development minister says it’s time that changed. Source: 1 NEWS

District Health Boards require their social workers to be registered and most, but not all, of CYFS social workers sign up.

Out of more than 18 thousand social workers, nearly 6000 are voluntarily registered - which leaves about 12,000 who are not.

Of those, more than 5000 don't have a post-school qualification.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says that under the current system, dangerous people or criminals can re-enter the workforce with ease.

"They can't actually stop them from practising, they are just de-registered," she says.

"They are still a social worker and they can go on and work in the system."

Ms Tolley is now taking a plan to cabinet which says all social workers must have a university-level qualification and be registered.

"If we are to address things like our horrific child abuse and our terrible stats around family violence then we need this group of professionals capable and recognised," she says.

However, cash-strapped NGOs are worried about the $2000 registration cost, and losing valuable experienced staff.

Ms Tolley says it will be "a bit hard on some of those great people who work in the social sector who are never going to be qualiifed" - but that it's a small price to pay.