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Social Workers Prepared to Help Victims of Haiti Earthquake

NASW encourages members to get involved

WASHINGTON DC—In the aftermath of the deadly earthquake in Haiti this week, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is issuing an alert to its nearly 150,000 members to help support recovery efforts for victims and their families.  In disasters such as this, social workers are uniquely suited to assess the disaster environment in a culturally competent manner and to provide leadership in promoting effective disaster relief and recovery efforts.

“Social workers are often among the first to respond to disasters both nationally and abroad,” says Elizabeth Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH, executive director of NASW. “The people of Haiti need our help now more than ever, and we are committed to providing any assistance we can to one of the world’s poorest countries during this terrible tragedy.”

“If you would like to join with your social worker colleagues in the social work response to this disaster, you can donate through the NASW Foundation’s Social Work Disaster Assistance Fund to assist social workers and/or social welfare organizations who can provide help.”

Social workers are already helping through various organizations both nationally and internationally. NASW is a member of InterAction, the largest coalition of U.S-based international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) focused on the world’s poor and most vulnerable people.  Many NGO members of this coalition were active in Haiti prior to the earthquake and have been mobilizing immediate aid to survivors in the past few days.  Social workers have a strong presence within these organizations.  Social workers can also make contributions to organizations listed here:

Social workers can also help by offering disaster recovery services through organizations working in Haiti.  Tragic events of this magnitude often require the expertise of social workers who can immediately provide their crisis management, community organizing and mental health support skills.  Social workers with prior disaster relief experience can register with the Center for International Disaster Information to volunteer their time and expertise to this important cause.  Or for those with more experience and seeking longer-term paid positions, social workers can search for vacancies with NGOs at www.reliefweb.int .

For further information about ways to get involved, visit the InterAction Web site at or the USAID Disaster Assistance page .

NASW recognizes that some of our members and friends have lost loved ones through this tragedy.   Our thoughts are with those affected by this disaster.  To find additional resources on coping with grief and loss, please visit Help Starts Here, the social work consumer Web site .

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About NASW

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers with 150,000 members. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.

About the NASW Foundation

The NASW Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization created to enhance the well-being of individuals, families and communities through the enhancement of social work practice. One of the Foundation’s goals is to assist with rapid response to social crises.

7 comments

  1. As a national volunteer for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, I can report we are partnering with our ecumenical partners to provide both immediate and long-term relief in Haiti. If you would like to help our effort, log onto pcusa.org/pda and find more information for monetary donations or to volunteer on one of our teams.

    Our prayers go out to everyone in Haiti, their friends and loved ones, and the many rescuers responders!

  2. As a social worker with over 10 years experience in the field (specialized in child welfare over the last 10 years), I would love to find a way to help in Haiti, and am surprised at how difficult it is to find a tangible way to help, other than donating money. We are making a cash donation, but as a Social Worker who has been laid off in the State of California, due to budget cuts, I have ample time and opportunity to give hands-on help to this relief effort. Have passport, will travel. If anyone knows of an agency in need of Child Welfare Social Workers to help in Haiti, I would love to find out more. (I can be contacted through my personal website)

  3. Hi
    My name is Kimberly lattimore and I am also a social worker not working due to the fact I do not have a license. I am available to trail to Haiti to hel out and stay for a while. Can anyone please let me know where I can go. I am living in NYC.

  4. Hi
    Kim Again, why can’t you guys grandfather in more social workers asap so that we can work and travel to help these people in haiti and when they come to NYC we will be able to help them. As of this writing there is a great shortage of social workers in nyc and if we are grandfathered in we can be of a great help to this group of people. They will continue to need a great deal of help so please let up help them.

  5. With heart, mind and hands ready, I too am looking for a tangible way to help out in Haiti. I realize that thing now are slow going, however, if anyone knows of a way to help please feel free to contact me directly at jameshenry_9@yahoo.com.
    I am a medical social worker for hospice and have skill sets with those dealing with grief and loss. Thanks for the post

  6. Please contact me if you find any groups of social workers going or anyone sending social workers & nurses. I am a social worker of ten years having worked in hospice & child welfare and have seen some quite painful events, including the death of my own two children. I also helped establish a national non-profit for a chronic health condition. My mother, a nurse of 30 years, and myself are both available to go to Haiti immediately. Any information would be appreciated. Thank you.

  7. Here is some info. http://www.cidi.org screens all volunteers. They are looking for people who can commit to 3 months. It would probably be beneficial for all social workers to help explain what happens in crisis when people aren’t trained to handle crisis. This site states approximately 50,000 unannounced volunteers showed up offering to help w/ Hurricane Katrina. Two Americans already arrived in Haiti, got down there and got stuck. They didn’t even have a way to get out of the airport. So that takes away from the job at hand. Also, food drives and winter coats w/ high hills are not appropriate donations but they will be forced to deal w/ that. Right now it might be good for social workers to provide some education on this issue and help run iterference. I think my mom may go and I may stay and work on that very issue. For those who can’t go, making use of those who feel they have to get their hands in there, perhaps helping plan or organize a fundraiser in their church, some redirection might be helpful. I am still interested in any information you have with regard to the orphan situation and what measurse are being taken. I am interested in helping but I can’t go for more than a month at a time. My mom will go on w/o me and I’ll focus my work here. Thank you.

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