Social Work, Activism, Police Abolition

The NASW is failing us. Either it changes, or we will change it ourselves.

The National Association of Social Workers continued endorsement of collaborating with the police is just one example of how the organization has harmed both social workers and clients

A banner hanging over a railing that reads “Another Social Work is Possible” in blue, black, and red lettering.
A banner hanging over a railing that reads “Another Social Work is Possible” in blue, black, and red lettering.
  1. The NASW endorses the #8ToAbolition movement
  2. The NASW endorses student demands to remove law enforcement officers from K-12 schools and for colleges and universities to divest from campus police
  3. The NASW commits to making social work training more accessible to marginalized people who are frequently already doing social work but are barred from many social work jobs due to an emphasis on requiring “professional” credentials.
  4. At minimum, this means a clear plan to make BSW and MSW programs more affordable and accessible to underrepresented and marginalized students, including supporting Cost of Living Adjustments for graduate student workers, demanding more scholarships and grants for social work students, and requiring agencies to pay interns by not later than the start of the 2023–2024 school year.
  5. However, the NASW should consider how to look beyond the field of higher education for solutions to make jobs in the profession more accessible. Esq. Apprentice provides an excellent framework for how social work can consider avenues of training outside of higher education in their program that “provide[s] low-income women of color with the tools needed to complete California’s legal apprenticeship program and become attorneys”.
  6. The NASW commits to integrating anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices and racial-socioeconomic perspectives into any training or evaluation offered. These practices and perspectives should reflect the wide diversity of thought and tactics BIPOC communities have used to fight racism and oppression and should not rely on any one book or training.
  7. The NASW makes necessary changes to the Code of Ethics to ensure free criticism and dissent in the field
  8. The NASW condemns involuntary hospitalizations for mental health treatment, court-ordered drug treatment, and state-mandated participation in programs affiliated with child welfare services and provides a clear plan to completely abolish these coercive programs
  9. The NASW publishes clear guidelines on outside programs offering CEUs, and prohibits CEUs affiliated with programs that violate the Code of Ethics, including the proposed ICE Citizens Academy.
  10. The NASW condemns law enforcement agencies perpetuating harm through their use of agency grants at social service agencies. Many agencies receive funds from departments of Juvenile Justice, or the Office of Refugee Resettlement (which reports to ICE), and stipulations of funding mean that social workers are required to report to or otherwise collaborate with law enforcement, creating an ethical dilemma for social workers that does not need to exist.

Social Service Workers United-Chicago is a group of social service workers and social work students in Chicago organizing for collective liberation.