NASW is one of the largest membership organizations of professional social workers in the world.
NASW works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain standards for the profession, and to advance sound social policies. NASW also contributes to the well-being of individuals, families and communities through its work and advocacy.
NASW was founded in 1955 through a merger of seven social work organizations:
- American Association of Social Workers
- American Association of Medical Social Workers
- American Association of Psychiatric Social Workers
- National Association of School Social Workers
- American Association of Group Workers
- Association for the Study of Community Organization
- Social Work Research Group
NASW has chapters in every state in the United States, plus Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and an International Chapter. Washington DC and New York City also host NASW chapters.
An elected Delegate Assembly sets organizational policy for NASW, and an elected Board of Directors establishes strategic priorities for the association. Each NASW chapter also has a staff, a board of directors, volunteer committees, and task forces that help to advance the mission of the association.
NASW employs about 220 people at the chapter and national levels. NASW and its chapters manage a $40 million budget.
NASW has four subsidiaries:
- NASW Foundation supports scientific, philanthropic, and educational activities that advance the social work profession.
- NASW Assurance Services provides competitive insurance services to members.
- Legal Defense Fund provides technical advice and financial assistance to members involved in legal proceedings as a result of upholding the NASW Code of Ethics.
- Political Action for Candidate Election (PACE) raises funds to contribute to the political campaigns of candidates who support the goals and objectives of social work.
- Ninety percent of NASW members hold master's degrees in social work. The average NASW member has practiced social work for 16 years and earns over $45,000 per year.
- Nearly 40% of NASW members say that mental health is their primary practice area. The health sector employs 8% of NASW’s members, and 8% practice in child welfare or family organizations. Six percent of NASW members say school social work is their primary practice area, and another 3% work primarily with adolescents.
- Ninety-three percent of all NASW members maintain some type of license, certification, or registration in their state; 70,000 also hold advanced credentials from NASW.
- Advocacy: NASW works to shape legislation and public policy that protects and strengthens the social work profession; promotes health, welfare and education; or in some way strengthens opportunities and social supports for individuals and families.
- Ethics: To protect the public and ensure high quality social work services in communities, NASW enforces a Code of Ethics and works to improve regulation of social work in every state. Thanks to these efforts, all states in the U.S. now license or otherwise regulate social work practice.
- Continuing Education: NASW provides extensive continuing education programs, including professional development conferences, through its chapters. We also offer membership in Specialty Practice Sections, which include Aging; Alcohol, Tobacco, & Other Drugs; Child Welfare; Health; Mental Health; Poverty and Social Justice; Private Practice; and School Social Work.
- Publication: NASW annually publishes numerous scholarly reference materials, four quarterly professional journals, comprehensive research abstracts, and a monthly newspaper. It also develops practice updates, newsletters, blogs, position papers, public education materials and other resources to improve social work practice and promote the profession. Learn more at NASW Press.