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Online Live Chat Room Links Professionals

The site currently hosts two live chats each week.

NASW has updated the Internet chat room for social workers that is part of the constellation of Web sites offered by the association.

Located at, the chat room provides users with live chats on a variety of topics as well as more than 30 bulletin boards on a range of subjects.

The lead moderator of the chat site is social worker Susan Mankita. Mankita has worked in a variety of social work settings, including a number of health care positions, and now teaches at Florida International University. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of NASW's Florida Chapter.

"We get an amazing mix" of participants on the site, Mankita said. "A chat room could have students, a couple of real seasoned professionals and some curious folks." She said some participants have a specific interest in the chat topic, but many others "come to learn about something they might not know about, or they just like to come and be with colleagues."

The site is the outgrowth of a chat room first founded by Mankita in 1995. She said that "as soon as I found out about the Internet, I got a computer and found a way to hook up. The first thing I did was try to find other social workers online."

She discovered a social work chat room that eventually became part of AOL. "It grew from seven or eight of us to a fairly big community on AOL for about 10 years," Mankita said. When changes AOL made to its chat room structure several years ago hampered the moderators' ability to contact participants, Mankita and others began looking for a new avenue to provide the chat room service.

Working with NASW as well as promotional partner The New Social Worker Online, Mankita and others re-launched the site at

"NASW has been expanding its Web presence to try to reach out and find new ways to engage social workers," explained NASW Web Services Manager Brandon Maddox. "This chat site is a perfect fit for the association and helps us expand the electronic environment we're offering for social workers to interact."

Currently, the site offers two real-time chats each week, on Tuesdays and Sundays, as well as the bulletin boards. The chats are free and open to everyone. Participants need to register on the site to establish a user name.

Recent chat topics have included complicated bereavement and in-home and wraparound services for families. The chats often feature guest moderators who are experts in a particular field.

Bulletin board topics include boards about the profession, such as salaries and ethics; boards addressing different areas of practice, such as aging and child welfare; and "Bits and Pieces," which offers a "Blow Off Steam" board, among others.

In addition to Mankita, other social workers who staff the site include Mila Tecala, Jerry Satterwhite, Roger Barnes, Judy Glick, Judith Spangenberg, Karen Zgoda and Kryss Shane.

"We expect that this site will continue to grow and that we will be able to offer more chats as interest expands," Maddox said. "It's a wonderful resource for all social workers."

NASW Web sites also include NASW's main page (, a consumer site (, a blog page ( and the Social Work Portal (

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