Unification Team Releases Final Report

— Heidi Sfiligoj, News Staff


In June 2007, a unification transition team was charged with examining possible organization structures, identifying resources and skills needed for transition, and engaging social work members in unification. The team released its final report this summer. NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark served on the transition task force.

The unification transition team was created at the conference Social Work: Future of the Profession at the Wingspread Conference Center in Wisconsin. In attendance were 33 representatives from 10 organizations, including NASW, Action Network for Social Work Education and Research, Association of Social Work Boards, Baccalaureate Program Directors, Council on Social Work Education, Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education, Institute for Advancement of Social Work Research, National Association of Deans and Directors, Society for Social Work and Research, and St. Louis Group. NASW was interested in working with the other organizations to unify the profession.

While there was a growing consensus at the conference that educational organizations could unite under one umbrella, unification of the numerous disparate social work organizations later became the unanimous choice for the future of the profession. All who were present at the conference signed an agreement to proceed with unification under one professional organization.

Before the Wingspread Conference adjourned, an interim transitional task force was selected to further explore the structure of a unified professional organization and the steps needed to achieve it. The task force's assignments included studying possible organizational structures, identifying resources and skills required for transition and engaging social work members in unification. The panel was also tasked with developing a model to create a new transition team that would consist of current leaders as well as those with leadership potential who embody the future of the profession.

After a year of collecting data, mapping and receiving feedback from social work organizations, the transition team met in June 2008 and proposed three recommendations.

The first recommendation was to establish a communications consortium to better communicate with constituents, as well as social workers and social work educators who are not members of any organization. The team recognized the significance of social networking, such as the need to map organizational social networks in order to discover more people who may have an interest in the future of social work.

The second recommendation called for the creation of a think tank. The recommendation will be achieved with the creation of the Social Work Policy Institute, which will launch within the NASW Foundation in October.

The third recommendation was to hold a second Social Work Congress in 2010, which would be a five-year review and would be important for measuring success and for updating imperatives. Planning for the 2010 Social Work Congress is under way.