January 14, 2015

Now is the Time for Social Work

Dear NASW Member,

As the New Year begins, we want to take this opportunity to thank you for the great work you do on behalf of the clients and communities you serve. We truly appreciate having you as a member of social work’s premier professional association. Please know that your involvement with NASW helps promote social workers and advance our wonderful profession.

Given the social challenges we face as a nation, now is the time for social work! Social work skills and insights are desperately needed as our country works to make high quality mental health care available to those in need; achieve racial equity; provide health care for all families; seek economic and social justice for all people; be more responsive to the needs of service members, veterans, and their families; bring hope, recovery, and healing to trauma survivors; help seniors age and live with dignity; and ensure that all children experience safe, healthy growth and development. Social workers practice, advocate, educate and research broadly across the full spectrum of health and human services—there is ample room for our profession to grow and prosper.

The start of a new year invites us to reflect on our collective accomplishments in 2014, while looking ahead to new challenges and opportunities. In June 2014, NASW launched a three-year strategic plan focused on advancing social work and social justice. The plan reaffirms NASW’s commitment to using the power of social work and the might of our members to improve social conditions for all people, especially those who are vulnerable, oppressed and living in poverty. It also makes advocacy and professional growth for social workers our top priority.

The plan calls for a strategic focus in four key areas: strengthening member participation, creating more value for members, solidifying the long-term viability of the association, and enhancing NASW’s internal resource capacity for protecting and promoting social workers and advancing the profession. Our strategic plan complements and operationalizes the association’s program goals which are approved through the Delegate Assembly process.

To strengthen member participation at the local, state and national level, we undertook a number of activities last year. Our 55 local chapters offered numerous workshops, training sessions, state conferences, networking and social events, and provided many exciting opportunities for public policy advocacy. On the national level, our capstone engagement effort was the NASW National Conference held in Washington, DC in July. If you were not among the 1,900 in attendance, we hope to see you in 2016. This year there were attendees from all 50 states and 12 countries, and 95% of participant evaluation respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "My overall conference experience was great." More than 90% responded "Yes" to the question "I would likely attend the next scheduled NASW National Conference." We are happy to announce that planning for the August 2016 conference in Washington, DC is already underway.

In 2015, NASW will celebrate its 60th anniversary. Throughout the year, there will be a variety of ways for you to help celebrate this important milestone with social work colleagues. In March, during Social Work Month, we will launch our 60th anniversary campaign: "Social Work Paves the Way for Change." The events and activities will offer a mix between public education on the positive impact of social work in society, advocacy for causes important to social work, and fun commemoration of historic NASW accomplishments. Read the NASW News and visit NASW websites for updates throughout the year.

We strive to make the benefits available to our members first-class and consistent with your expectations for value and relevance. Based on the results of our 2014 member survey, a number of new or improved offerings for enhancing your career are in development.

We recently upgraded our NASW Member Services call center and expanded the NASW Career Center, and will add new leadership development resources and mobile tools this year. We also extended ethics consultation days and hours to serve more members. To help clinical social workers manage a number of practice changes in 2014, we produced a series of informational materials and webinars to ensure that our members had the latest information available. Later this month, we will publish the 10th edition of Social Work Speaks, NASW’s public policy statements and an essential reference tool that represents the collective thinking of thousands of experienced social workers from all fields of practice.

We have a number of exciting projects and partnerships underway that will strengthen and expand the role of social work in our nation’s health and human service systems. A few examples include:

  • work with SAMHSA in the area of mental health care provider education in HIV/AIDS
  • a new partnership with the Hartford Foundation to strengthen social work leadership and gerontological capacity for front line services to older adults
  • a partnership with the Council of Social Work Education and New York Community Trust to build social work health care education and leadership capacity

Additionally, through the NASW Press, we have recently published titles, including Harm Reduction for High-Risk Adolescent Substance Abusers; Caregiving and Care Sharing: A Life Course Perspective; Social Work Practice with Veterans; and Hope Matters: The Power of Social Work.

Professional associations are constantly challenged to find ways to grow and sustain their resources for maximum impact and influence. NASW is committed to prudent management of our resources to ensure the Association’s long-term viability. For example, in 2014 we consolidated our national office lease space to save thousands of dollars annually in rent over the next 13 years.

While we work to reduce expenses, we are always looking for new opportunities to make smart investments in projects and programs that strengthen NASW for the future. Among the many enhancements you can expect this year are expanded continuing education offerings, reinvigorated federal advocacy efforts, more efficient operational systems and website improvements. We believe these investments and others will help NASW increase national respect for social work; fight for increased salaries, rates and reimbursements for social workers; and secure critical resources for the clients and communities we serve.

At NASW, our ultimate aim is to create a professional association experience that provides frequent opportunities for you to feel invigorated and validated, and gives you full access to knowledge and networks that help you advance as a social worker and community leader.

We wish you and your loved ones a terrific start to the New Year. Let’s make 2015 a great year for social work and social justice!

Yours sincerely,

Darrell P. Wheeler, PhD, ACSW, MPH
President, Email: president@naswdc.org

Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW
CEO, Email: naswceo@naswdc.org

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