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Article

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership association of professional social workers in the world with nearly 145,000 members. Formed in 1955 by uniting seven predecessor organizations, NASW has a dual mission of protecting and advancing the profession of social work and of advocating for social justice issues. The NASW national office is based in Washington, DC, with chapters in each state, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. There are also separate chapters in New York City and metropolitan Washington, DC, as well as an international chapter for U.S. social workers living abroad.

Article

Brenda K. J. Crawley

Eileen McGowan-Kelly (1946–1996) was known for her peace-focused international community building among social workers in the U.S. and abroad.

Article

Kenneth R. Wedel

Ruth Irelan Knee (1920–2008) was a leading social worker in the formative years of public mental health programming and was a contributor to the “patients’ rights movement” for institutionalized persons.

Article

Romel W. Mackelprang

Characteristics that we contemporarily define as disabilities have existed in the human population from earliest recorded history. Societal explanations for disability have varied greatly by time and populations in which disabilities have occurred. At various times in history, disability has been viewed as a blessing from deity or the deities, a punishment for sin, or a medical problem. Social workers have worked with persons with disabilities from the inception of the profession, and in recent years, social work has begun to embrace the concept of disability as diversity and to treat disability as diversity and welcome disabled persons as fully participating members of society. Social work has begun welcoming persons with disabilities as fully participating members of society, including valuable members of the profession.

Article

Linda Beebe

Ruth Fizdale (1908–1994) was a caseworker and administrator in health care. She was a pioneer in professionalizing social work working with many organizations such as NASW. For 19 years, she was executive director of the Arthur Lehman Counseling Service (ALCS).

Article

Frederic G. Reamer

Social workers’ understanding of professional values and ethics has matured considerably. During the earliest years of the profession’s history, social workers’ attention was focused primarily on cultivating a set of values upon which the mission of the profession could be based. More recently, social workers have developed comprehensive ethical standards to guide practitioners and decision-making frameworks that are useful when practitioners face difficult ethical dilemmas. Today’s social workers also have a better understanding of the relationship between their ethical decisions and potential malpractice risks.

Article

Professional associations have been present since the birth of the visiting teacher/school social work movement in 1906. The five major associations—National Association of School Social Workers, National Association of Social Workers, the Midwest School Social Work Council, State School Social Work Associations (both individually and as a group), and the School Social Work Association of America—collectively provide vital services such as conferences and publications that form the foundation of the profession. Their decisions have shaped the history of school social work as well as maintain the current level of services to the school social work community. The practice of school social work today is based in large part on the decisions made by the professional associations in the past and now.

Article

The social work profession has evolved extensively since its inception in 1898. The profession began with a focus on helping others and recognizing social injustices as its core charges. The profession is now being called to view human rights as its professional responsibility, too. As driving forces behind this new charge, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) are taking concrete steps to ensure that the human rights perspective is being integrated into social work education and practice.

Article

Ronald Marks

Helen Cassidy (1918–1994) was a social work educator, administrator, and practitioner. In Washington, DC she was field director of the American National Red Cross and administrator of social services programs. She developed an international reputation as an expert in social casework.

Article

Frederic G. Reamer

Ethical standards in social work have matured significantly since the profession’s formal inauguration in the late 19th century. As in most professions, social work’s principal code of ethics has evolved from a brief, broadly worded document to a detailed, comprehensive guide to ethical practice. This article summarizes the diverse purposes and functions of professional codes of ethics and the historical trends and changes in social work’s codes of ethics. The key components of the NASW Code of Ethics—the code’s preamble, broad ethical principles, and more specific ethical standards—are described.

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Sadye L. M. Logan

Barbara W. White (1943–2019), Dean Emeritus at University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work, was an accomplished scholar in the areas of cultural diversity, women, and domestic violence. She was actively engaged with social work education for over three decades and was a former president of both the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). White has left a distinguished legacy that spans the national and international communities of social work.

Article

Sadye L. M. Logan

As chief executive director of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Battle demonstrated a pioneering leadership that stimulated the organization and the social work profession to broader areas of social concerns. He was a social worker, educator, consultant, businessman, and former government official. Throughout his career, he blended expertise in management and labor issues with social work skills and knowledge.

Article

Ann Weick

Liane V. Davis (1942–1995) was an advocate, scholar and teacher, and promoter of women's issues in social work. She chaired the National Committee on Women's Issues and taught and wrote about women's victimization and how to support their strengths.

Article

Halaevalu F. O. Vakalahi, Michael M. Sinclair, and Bradford W. Sheafor

Professions are developed and maintained through various professional organizations and associations. As social work has evolved in terms of context and content, the professional membership and professional education organizations have periodically unified, separated, and later reunified in the attempt to maintain an identity as a single profession, yet responding to the needs and interests of different practice specialties, educational levels, special interest groups within social work, and diverse cultures and communities. Further discussion of the major organizations and associations in the profession of social work recognizes the continuous important contributions of emerging groups and entities that represent the diversity that exists in the profession.