Social Work Month filled with activities

Collage of SW month eventsSince its first Social Work Month theme in 1966 — “Support Social Work Education in Your State” — promoting Professional Social Work Month in March has been a priority for NASW.

Each year, NASW creates a new theme for the month-long campaign, with the goal of bringing all social workers together to celebrate and shine a spotlight on the profession.

NASW selected “All People Matter” as the 2014 theme to raise awareness throughout the country about the profession’s 116-year commitment to improving social conditions and quality-of-life opportunities for everyone.

Highlights from this year’s Social Work Month activities in March include a partnership with the Journalism Center on Children and Families at the University of Maryland; the final voting of the annual NASW Media Awards; NASW chapter involvement; and official recognition of Social Work Month on Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C.

“The success of Social Work Month is driven by the passion and creativity of our chapters, the schools of social work, supportive employers and numerous allies to the profession,” said Gail Woods Waller, deputy director of membership, marketing and communications at NASW. “The March celebration gives the association and the profession a fresh promotional focus for the whole year.”

Social Work Lifeline

The Journalism Center on Children and Families and NASW have joined forces to create an interactive website, or lifeline, that will look at a day in the life of social workers, according to JCCF Director Julie Drizin.

The lifeline is a tool to deepen journalistic understanding of the field of social work, Drizin said.

“Through a very rich conversation with the NASW communications department and Gail Woods Waller, we talked about partnering on something that would educate journalists about the profession,” she said.

The partnership, which began during this year’s Social Work Month, will be a convergence of a lot of shared interest, Drizin said, adding that one of the best ways to teach people about the field is to engage them in it.

“The Journalism Center on Children and Families is committed to helping reporters deepen and expand (coverage of) complex issues facing kids and families in the U.S.,” she said. “This project will promote the field of social work in the sense that it will give people a real window into the work social workers do, but at the same time it won’t be a glorification or idealized view. Maybe not all of the stories will have a happy ending, but it will be a very real look.”

The interactive website will specifically house stories on ways social workers interact and intervene as they help children and families in need.

“The lifeline will portray a wide range of topics, from social workers who work with pregnant women, infants, toddlers, school-age children; and young adults, families and aging people; and people in the military who come home from war,” Drizin said. “We’ll be visualizing across a lifespan, and stories will either be multimedia, short videos, audio slide shows, animation, or in print.”

Drizin said the center will put out a call for ideas, and people can pitch articles that involve a social worker or social work agency in their community. The center will then evaluate all submissions, and assign chosen ideas to a journalist from its roster.

“The stories have to be very compelling and have journalistic integrity, which is very important,” Drizin said. “Our hope is that the stories on the lifeline, once published, will then get picked up and distributed elsewhere for more visibility.”

The lifeline will be available by mid-fall, and open to the public.

“One of the benefits of partnering with NASW on this, and by having NASW supporting this project, is it will help us gain access to people and situations that might be harder for reporters to get to on their own,” Drizin said. “If there are people out there who have powerful, memorable stories that they think will resonate, they should let the center know.”

Get more information, The Journalism Center on Children and Families.

Questions and story ideas can also be emailed to Drizin at

1,000 Experts Campaign

Although Social Work Month ended March 31, social workers can continue to promote the 2014 theme for the rest of the year, said NASW Senior Public Relations and Communications Specialist Greg Wright. One way is through the NASW 1,000 Experts Campaign list, which debuted in March.

The searchable list is a compilation of experts in various areas of the social work profession who can provide insight and analysis to reporters and others. Some of the nation’s top social work researchers, authors, community leaders, educators, clinicians and elected officials are included on NASW’s referral list, Wright said.

“The 1,000 experts list is available online and is a way for the public and the media to find social workers who are experts on a variety of subjects, including veterans, grief, addictions, foster care, and elder care,” he said. “We also want our experts to act as advisers to other NASW members, and to suggest issues for the national office to do media outreach on.”

Get more information about the 1,000 Experts Campaign

Media Awards Winners

The third-annual NASW Media Awards nominations were tallied at the end of Social Work Month, and winners were announced in April. Wright said all award submissions highlighted or drew attention to social work in a positive way.

“Part of the communications goal for the NASW Media Awards is to let media folks know we appreciate good coverage of social work and social work issues,” Wright said. “The awards also help to get NASW noticed by the media and help us improve relations with them, which, in turn, could lead to more balanced and accurate articles about social workers in the future.”

Wright said votes for nominees were accepted until midnight on March 31, and about 1,350 online ballots were tallied.

The 10 categories and winners are:

  • Best Documentary: Feature Film, “The Power Broker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights”
  • Best Blog: “Social Workers Deserve More,” by Madrigal Maniac
  • Best Radio Program: WRKO AM Boston, Right Turn Radio
  • Best News Article: The New York Times, “Overcoming Addiction, Professor Tackles Perils American Indians Face”
  • Best TV News Program: HBO, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Episode 1108
  • Best Magazine Article: Parade magazine, “A Grief That Won’t Heal,” by Gretchen Reynolds
  • Best Column: The New York Times, “The Untold Story of Military Sexual Assault,” by Michael Matthews
  • Best Website: Social Justice Solutions
  • Best TV Show: “The Fosters” on ABC Family
  • Best Trade Publication: Social Work Today magazine

For more information, visit Social Workers Speak: And the 2014 NASW Media Award Winners are…

Recognition on Capitol Hill

Social Work Month was officially announced on Capitol Hill in March through a resolution. The bill was introduced in the 113th Congress and sponsored in the House by Congressional Social Work Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and in the Senate by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

NASW Senior Field Organizer Dina Kastner said the resolution shows the importance of social work, because through it members of Congress have signed onto legislation that supports the public recognition of Social Work Month and World Social Work Day.

“NASW has worked with Capitol Hill staff every year on this resolution,” Kastner said. “We started the correspondence because Capitol Hill passes legislation that impacts the social work profession. If members of Congress know the depth and breadth of what social workers do, they can know the types of legislation most needed.”

NASW Chapters

Outside of Capitol Hill, NASW chapters across the U.S. recognized Social Work Month in their communities.

  • The NASW Nebraska Chapter gathered outstanding social worker nominations from its members during the months of January and February. Each day during March, one or two of the nominations were showcased on the chapter’s Facebook page, and the month wrapped up with an event that celebrated hometown social workers with door prizes and social work speakers.

“We used social media to highlight the many roles of social work, educate the community and celebrate our profession,” said NASW-Nebraska Board President Andrea Phillips.

  • NASW–Massachusetts also used social media to promote the theme of Social Work Month, and chapter student ambassadors planned events on and off campus to promote NASW and celebrate the profession. The chapter said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick declared March as Social Work Month during the chapter’s Legislative Education and Advocacy Day event.
  • NASW–Rhode Island also held its legislative day event in March, which was co-sponsored by Providence College. According to chapter Executive Director Rick Harris, the 11th-annual event celebrated social work education and the profession in general; familiarized social work students with the State House; and gave students the opportunity to become comfortable speaking with elected officials.

“Our society needs advocates who have as their foundation, values embedded in the social work profession,” Harris said. “Social Work Month punctuates the work we do, and what better place to get started recognizing and encouraging the social work profession’s contributions to society than hosting an advocacy day at our State House for those going into the profession.”

  • NASW–Idaho announced that the state’s House of Representatives and Senate passed a resolution proclaiming March 2014 as Social Work Month.
  • In California, Assemblywoman Marikio Yamada, an NASW member, and Assemblywoman Susan Eggman represented the NASW

California Chapter with a resolution commemorating Social Work Month on the floor of the State Assembly in March.

Other NASW chapters that recognized Social Work Month through symposiums, outreach, annual conferences and advocacy events include Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, New York State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington State.

For more information, please visit individual chapter websites.