Social Workers Prepared to Help Victims of Haiti Earthquake

Jan 14, 2010

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 .

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 .


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.