The National Association of Social Workers
(NASW) is a professional organization of social work
Social Work is a professional and academic discipline that seeks to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of an individual, group, or community by intervening through research, policy, community organizing, direct practice, and teaching on behalf of those afflicted with poverty or any real or...
ers in the United States. It had over 150,000 members as of January 2008 and provides guidance, research, up to date information, advocacy, and other resources for its members and for social workers in general. Members of the NASW are also able to obtain malpractice insurance, members-only publications, discounts on other products and services, and continuing education
Continuing education is an all-encompassing term within a broad spectrum of post-secondary learning activities and programs. The term is used mainly in the United States and Canada...
The National Association of Social Workers was established in 1955 through the consolidation of the following seven organizations:
- American Association of Social Workers
- American Association of Psychiatric Social Workers
- American Association of Group Workers
- Association for the Study of Community Organization
- American Association of Medical Social Workers
- National Association of School Social Workers
- Social Work Research Group
NASW’s primary functions include promoting the professional development of its members, establishing and maintaining professional standards of practice, advancing sound social policies, and providing services that protect its members and enhance their professional status. The Association developed and adopted the NASW Code of Ethics and other generalized and specialized practice standards. Certification and quality assurance are promoted through the Academy of Certified Social Workers, the NASW Register of Clinical Social Workers, and the Diplomate in Clinical Social Work. Among NASW’s political action programs are Political Action for Candidate Election and Educational Legislative Action Network. The Association also sponsors, through its 56 chapters in the U.S. and abroad, professional conferences and continuing education programs, and produces journals (such as the flagship Social Work
), books, and major reference works for the profession.
NASW has 56 chapters, which serve their members through the creation of units, branches, regions, or divisions. It has one chapter in each of the 50 states, with additional chapters in New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...
, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...
, the United States Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands of the United States are a group of islands in the Caribbean that are an insular area of the United States. The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.The U.S...
, and Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...
, plus an international chapter.
Code of Ethics
The 1996 NASW Delegate Assembly (revised by the 1999 NASW Delegate Assembly) approved the NASW Code of Ethics (available in English and Spanish), which is intended to serve as a guide to the everyday professional conduct of social workers. This Code includes four sections. The first Section, "Preamble," summarizes the social work profession's mission and core values. The second section, "Purpose of the NASW Code of Ethics," provides an overview of the Code's main functions and a brief guide for dealing with ethical issues or dilemmas in social work practice. The third section, "Ethical Principles," presents broad ethical principles, based on social work's core values, that inform social work practice. The final section, "Ethical Standards," includes specific ethical standards to guide social workers' conduct and to provide a basis for adjudication.
National Association of Social Workers Foundation
The National Association of Social Workers Foundation (NASWF) is a charitable organization created to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through the advancement of social work practice. It was founded in 2001 and it's goals are to:
- Identify, develop and respond to social work policy and practice issues.
- Assist with rapid response to social crises.
- Support practice-based research, so that practice and research are directly linked.
- Raise the visibility of social work and enhance public esteem for the profession.
- Support the development of cutting edge continuing education that addresses critical issues.
- Promote the appropriate application of new technology to the practice of social work.
NASWF is managed by a nine-member Board of Directors that comprises the current NASW President, three NASW members, and three individuals involved in professions other than social work. Nonvoting members of the board include the NASW Executive Director who serves as President of the Foundation and the NASW President-Elect.
The Foundation administers a wide variety of educational and research programs in an effort to fulfill its core mission of enhancing the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through the advancement of social work policy and practice. Foundation assets total more than $3.1 million, including the NASWF Endowment, which is funded by voluntary contributions from NASW members and other supporters.
National Professional Social Work Month
NASW introduced National Professional Social Work Month for the first time in March 1963. The original purpose was to encourage public support and interest in social work as a profession. NASW was able to create a buzz around Social Work Month by engaging the public through various television ad campaigns that aired throughout the sixties. This tactic was successful in the early years, generating more than 35,000 letters of support from the public and attracting media coverage of notable social workers in local newspapers.
It wasn't until 1984 that the White House officially recognized March as National Professional Social Work Month. A joint resolution was introduced by Sen Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y) declaring March 1984 as National Social Work Month. This was followed by a lobbying push from NASW chapters and the cosponsorship of Sen. Strom Thurmond (R. S.C). The resolution was passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.
Since then, NASW has selected specific themes for Social Work Month each year. These themes highlighted a particular social issue of interest to the social work community. In recent years, however, the themes have been associated with the public image of social workers as individuals and how they help others.
The 2009 theme for National Social Work Month is "Social Work: Purpose & Possibility." NASW created a new website called "50 Ways to Use Your Social Work Degree" that profiles 50 social work professionals and the ways they use their social work degree. The site was created as a part of NASW's Public Education Campaign in an effort to recruit prospective social workers to the profession.