Continuing Professional Development

Go here for a list of NASW-CO Approved Continuing Education Opportunities.

Below is information on the DORA Continued Professional Development requirement of licensure.  Please read through all information here carefully and thoroughly.   You are strongly encouraged to follow the DORA links to review important information on DORA's website on the CPD program. In addition, you should also review the webpage for specific info on HPPP, which is an additional requirement of licensure.

The Chapter offers a CPD Tracking Workbook available on the My Member Benefits section of this website.

DORA CPD Website

DORA Social Work Continuing Professional Competency - Offers a variety of information including a Resources section that provides info on the Learning Plan, Deem Status, and links to the CPC Program Manual and the Chart of accepted Professional Development Activities for Social Workers.

Licensees should complete a Professional Practice Rubric and Self-Assessment, a Learning Plan, and document CPD hours. You are required to keep these items in your personal files electronically or on paper.  For more info go here.

For questions relating to CPD contact DORA customer service at:   Phone: (303) 894-2363  from 8:00am to 5:00pm MST Monday - Friday  or by email:

Highlights of the CPD Program:

  • It is tied to licensure and applies to LCSWs and LSWs 
  • It is overseen by DORA 
  • The model has three main components: reflective practice, developing a learning plan, and completing professional development activities
  • It requires 40 professional development hours be earned every 2 years. It does not require pre-approval for CEs or other activities by the DORA Board or NASW
  • It allows a variety of professional development activities: volunteer service, consultation, supervision, presenting, coursework (workshops, conferences, online classes), publication, and independent learning
    • However, these activities count only to the degree there is new, professional-level learning 
  • Documentation is kept by the licensee and is not sent to DORA unless specifically requested; by statute there will be an audit of 5% of licensees 
  • Licensees who are not currently practicing in the state but who want to keep a license may put it on "Inactive Status" and will NOT need to fulfill CPD requirements while Inactive.  See details.
  • First-time licensees have the required CPD hours prorated.  The prorated formula is 1.66 PDHs for every month a license is held until the cycle ends.  If the license is held for any part of a month, count the month in the formula.  First time licensees includes new LSWs and those who transferred their LCSW from another state at some point in the middle of the 2-year license cycle.  This formula is also used when a license is reinstated.

Overview of the CPD Program

The following is an overview of the DORA Continuing Professional Development program and requirements. This is not a complete review of all aspects of the program, so please be sure to attend a Chapter informational session or read the rules and resources on the DORA website.


The DORA CPD program technically went into effect by law on January 1st, 2011.  However, not all aspects of the program applied on that date, because the requirement is tied to licensure renewal which occurs every two years. The first “deadline” was at the August 2011 license renewal when licensees were required to comply with only the first two aspects of the program (reflective practice and learning plan).  It was the 2011-2013 license cycle that licensees first complied with the third aspect of the program to complete professional development activities/hours. Thereafter “deadlines” will occur every two years when you renew your license.


The Continued Competency requirement is tied to licensure and applies to LCSWs and LSWs (as well as other licensed mental health professionals). The program is overseen by DORA and managed through a software program accessed via a DORA portal on the internet. Licensees will access the DORA portal and sign in to their account with a password.

The DORA program does not require only CEC/CEU, nor does it require pre-approval of any kind by DORA.  CEC/CEU coursework certainly may count toward PHDs earned, but is not required for coursework to count toward PDHs.  DORA will not require you to send documentation of PDHs earned upon license renewal. Documentation is kept by the licensee and not sent to DORA unless specifically requested. Such requests by DORA are by audit or because of a lapsed license or grievance.

The Continuing Competency model has three main components: reflective practice, developing a learning plan, and completing professional development activities.


Continuing Professional Competence (CPC) – is the ongoing ability of a licensee to learn, integrate and apply the knowledge, skill and judgment to practice according to generally accepted industry standards and professional ethical standards in a designated role and setting.

Continuing Professional Development Portfolio (Portfolio) – will be an online instructional guide available on the DORA website. It is a comprehensive reference tool that provides many examples and in depth information about all aspects of the program. You may want to think of it as a resource to pick and choose what and when you find it helpful.

Professional Development Hours (PDH) – are clock hours of learning activities. Forty (40) PDH’s are required every two years in order to renew your license. A maximum of twenty (20) PDH’s may be credited in a single professional development activity. If you completed more than 40 PDH’s during a renewal cycle, you may carry over to the next renewal cycle a maximum of 5 PDH’s earned within 6 months of license expiration.

Professional Development Activities (PDA) – provide new knowledge, skills or attitudes and sharpen or expand existing skills. There are a variety of activities allowed: volunteer service, consultation, supervision, presenting, coursework (workshops, conferences, online classes, etc), publication, and independent learning. DORA does not require pre-approval or CEC approval for these activities, though documentation is required.

Reflective Practice – involves evaluating your professional skill and aspirations to identify new learning opportunities. The DORA program provides two on-line tools to assist in reflective practice, the Professional Practice Rubric (Rubric) and the Practice Description worksheet. The Rubric identifies seven competency dimensions that are common to all social work practice settings. The Rubric must be submitted on line to DORA to renew your license.

Personal Learning Plan (Learning Plan) – is an online document to outline and record your professional learning activities (PDAs) for each two-year license renewal cycle. The plan may be modified on-line any time throughout the two year cycle up until the set renewal deadline date. DORA will not audit, evaluate or review the content of your PDAs. The Learning Plan must be submitted on line to DORA to renew your license.

Documentation of PDH – You will need to retain records to document the PDH’s accrued. The type of documentation required is explained in the Portfolio. Documentation must be retained for 5 years and may be audited by DORA during this time. Documentation should not be sent to DORA unless specifically requested.

Deem Status – Some licensees working in certain settings may be deemed to have met the requirements of this program and in effect be exempted from completing additional PDAs. To be eligible you must work for a State agency or contractor that has a CPC program that meets DORA requirements. Licensees are still subject to a DORA audit. It is strongly recommending that licensees keep their own documentation in case they leave the agency or an agency changes status with the State.

History & Background - Continued Competence

For more than 10 years, the Chapter has been working to include a continuing education component in our licensure statute.   The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) and the Governor’s office historically had been opposed to continuing education, citing studies that indicate continuing education does not contribute to public protection, DORA’s primary function. In 2008, however, Governor Ritter asked DORA to consider a competency model that would address learning goals for all professions regulated by DORA. DORA approached the Chapter, and the other licensed mental health professionals, and asked if we would agree to submit a bill for a continuing competency requirement.  We agreed, as did LPCs, LMFTs and CACs.

The Chapter’s Legislative Committee and the Practice Standards Committee, University of Denver GSSW, and the Clinical Society, along with DORA began working together to draft a bill that was introduced in the state legislature in January 2009. Anne McGihon in the House and Betty Boyd in the Senate sponsored the bill - House Bill 1086. It required the above-mentioned professionals “to maintain continuing professional competency in order to obtain renewal or reinstatement of a license or certificate to practice their respective profession in Colorado.” The statute mandates that the Social Work Board of Examiners at DORA adopt rules that would contain the following elements.

During the summer of 2010, representatives from the Chapter participated in a Stakeholders Group at DORA that designed specifics of the social work Continuing Competency program.  These program specifics were approved by the DORA Social Work Board in a rule making hearing in November 2010. 


HB 1086 was signed into law on June 4, 2009 by Governor Ritter.

In attendance at the bill signing by Gov. Ritter are the bill sponsors, Rep. Gwyn Greene and Sen. Betty Boyd, and NASWCO (then) Executive Director, Renee Rivera, and (then) Legislative Chair, Jean Greenberg.