Founded in 1955, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership association for professional social workers in the world, with 130,000 members in the United States and overseas. In New York alone their are more than 16,000 NASW members; the New York State (NYS) chapter, which encompasses all New York except the five boroughs of New York City, has more than 8,000, while the New York City chapter has the remainder. The two chapters work together to carry out the mission and goals of the Association.
Social workers practice in all settings with all populations.
Professional social workers provide services to individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations. NASW members make up much of the social work labor force in New York and provide a substantial part of social services. In just one critical area of mental health social workers provide more than half of all care, especially in rural counties. In addition to direct service, social work practice includes policy development, education, management, and research.
Social workers provide service as private practitioners or as employees in private and public agencies. You will also find committed and caring social workers in schools, hospitals, offices, factories, and community centers anywhere people need help, guidance, and support. Unlike so many other professionals, NASW members look beyond the individual to the family, the group, the organization, and society as a whole. Our aim is to draw people together for mutual support, to help them to recognize and to use available personal and external resources to meet their needs, to encourage organizations to be responsible to their members, and to influence and guide social policies.
Social workers advocating for fair public policies.
NASW New York State helps shape legislation that touches on health, welfare, and education, or in some way protects and strengthens opportunities and social supports for individuals and families. Every year, chapter members gather in Albany to discuss with legislators issues of concern to social work consumers and professionals. New York State members also participate in coalitions at the state and local level; host legislative briefings; and communicate with elected leaders at the state and local level in person, by phone, mail, fax, and e-mail. NASW members provide testimony and expert advice to community leaders and elected officials to develop legislation and policies which maximize opportunities for all New Yorkers.
NASW members also participate in the electoral process. The New York State Political Action for Candidate Election (NYS PACE) committee is the separate and independent political action arm of NASW. It endorses candidates, disburses voluntary contributions, and provides volunteers to those candidates for public office who support legislation and policies consistent with those of NASW.
Protecting the public with professional standards.
NASW New York State promotes the quality and effectiveness of social work practice through adherence to our Code of Ethics. NASW adjudicates complaints against members and agencies to ensure ethical practice and nondiscrimination with respect to age, race, color, religion, national origin handicapping conditions, gender, and sexual orientation. NASW has developed practice standards to promote sound professional practice in child protection, case management, school social work, long-term care and health care facilities, among other settings. NASW-developed clinical indicators are used to systematically monitor the quality and appropriateness of patient care.
The Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW) designates those NASW members with demonstrated experience and knowledge in the field. The ACSW credential indicates that the holder is qualified for independent, self-regulated practice. NASW also offers credentials to recognize members’ skills in specialty areas such as the School Social Work Specialist credential and the Diplomate in Clinical Social Work. NASW is the significant force in advocating for enhanced regulation of social work practice to ensure that the public is protected from unethical or incompetent practitioners.
Social development through NASW.
Members of NASW New York State hold bachelor’s or advanced degrees from colleges or universities accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. New York State encourages members to continue professional education and development throughout their career. Consistent participation in continuing education enables social workers to maintain and increase their proficiency in service delivery: new knowledge is acquired, skills are refined, and professional attitudes are reinforced. Continuing education is a self-directed process which requires NASW members to assume responsibility for their own professional development. The chapter accredits continuing education providers and verifies the accomplishment of individual NASW members. The chapter offers regular workshops and seminars throughout New York on a variety of practice issues.