Celebrating ACSW’s Golden Anniversary

Academy of Certified Social Workers 50th logoACSW members “represent the thought leadership of the profession.”

NASW has much in the way of pomp and circumstance in store to celebrate 50 years of the Academy of Certified Social Workers credential. Established in 1960, the ACSW was the first national credential for the social work profession.

In February, NASW launched an advertising campaign with a full-page display ad in the NASW News featuring notable achievements throughout the past five decades by ACSW credential holders — among them NASW President James J. Kelly and Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark.

In the 1980s, Kelly oversaw one of the first and longest-running support groups for caregivers of persons with AIDS, and in the 1990s, Clark organized a high-profile march in Washington to raise awareness about the need for increased federal funding for cancer research.

Subsequent ads profiling ACSW holder achievements will run throughout the year in the NASW News. The Credentialing Center Web site also is profiling in more detail individual credential holders who’ve made significant contributions to the social work profession.

According to NASW Credentialing Center Manager Stephanie Chambers, the ACSW has evolved over time to remain relevant with the advent of state licensing and subspecialization.

“It’s become our leadership credential,” Chambers said. “For example, most of the social workers who’ve led federal agencies were ACSW holders and much of the younger credential holders are at the forefront of behavioral health research and practice.”

Last month, U.S. Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., one of nine social workers currently serving in Congress, submitted testimony into the Congressional Record highlighting the importance of the ACSW and the achievements of noted credential holders.

Towns’ testimony mentions the following ACSW holders: James Dumpson, former vice president of the New York Community Trust; Ada Deer, the first woman to be appointed assistant secretary of Indian affairs; Delwin Anderson, former director of the Social Work Service of the Department of Medicine and Surgery in the Veterans Administration; Bernice Harper, medical care adviser to the Health Care Financing Administration; Warren Graham, project director for the Reclaiming Futures initiative; and Jessica Sawyer, who is currently involved in the development and implementation of a pioneering process for incorporating mental health treatment in a medical setting in North Carolina.

“Members of the Academy of Certified Social Workers represent the thought leadership of the profession,” the testimony says. It adds: “The accomplishments of Academy members in social justice, social welfare, mental health, and philanthropy and humanitarianism have had significant positive effects in our society. Today’s Academy holders continue to create and inform innovative practices to improve the quality of life for current and future generations of Americans.”

Chambers also pointed out that the ACSW credential is the only one recognized internationally. In fact, she said, there’s been an uptick in the number of military social workers applying for the credential because they’re being deployed overseas.

This month the association will launch a revamped version of its credentialing center Web site, Credentials & Certifications. From there, interested individuals can download an updated copy of the ACSW application.

To be eligible for the ACSW credential, applicants must be an NASW member and have a master’s degree in social work from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and two years of supervised postgraduate employment.

Currently, there are more than 35,000 ACSW credential holders.

When asked whether NASW would be celebrating 100 years of the ACSW in 2060, Chambers responded with a resounding “Yes!”