How does NASW decide policy and legislative positions?

Dec 15, 2009

NASW has an exhaustive process to determine our public policy statements. The policy statements are compiled in Social Work Speaks, a comprehensive collection of policies adopted and revised by NASW’s key policy-making body, the Delegate Assembly. The Delegate Assembly, an elected body of 277 professional social workers representing NASW’s diverse membership, meets at regular intervals (every three years since 1981) to set broad parameters for the Association’s programs, to determine some bylaws issues, and to agree on policy statements that guide advocacy efforts in public policy. Any member can request review of a current policy statement or propose a new statement prior to the triennial meeting. All statements are automatically placed on the agenda every 9 years.

The last meeting of the Delegate Assembly occurred in 2008. The process included two comment periods for all of the new and revised policy statements by the membership prior to adoption by the delegates. Comments were reviewed by hearing panels composed of delegates who made final revisions to the statements. Delegates then voted on the final version presented to them, which appears in the book.

NASW national and chapters must advocate for policy that is in alignment with the adopted policy statements in Social Work Speaks. If a legislative proposal is consistent with the policy statement, NASW then considers additional factors, such as the overall value of the proposal, current political climate, effect on the profession and effect on our clients prior to determining support. If there is no policy statement on the issue, the Board of Directors may make a determination regarding support.