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February 2013Vol. 14, No. 1NASW Standards for Social Work Practice

In 2012, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) released a new version of the NASW Standards for Social Work Practice in Child Welfare (the Standards). The Standards, which were first released in 1981 and are periodically revised, are intended to broadly describe the scope of services that should be provided by social workers, supported by administrators, and expected by clients. They also highlight the skills, knowledge, values, methods, and sensitivities required by social workers in the child welfare field.

Examples of specific standards discussed in the document include ethics and values, advocacy, record keeping and confidentiality of client information, cultural competence, family and youth engagement, permanency planning, and supervision. These standards are intended to be the foundation for child welfare practice across the continuum, from prevention to out-of-home care, adoption, and independent living.

NASW Standards for Social Work Practice in Child Welfare is available on the NASW website: (147 KB)

NASW also produced standards on other areas of social work, including school social workers, social work practice with service members and their families, practice with clients with substance abuse disorders, and more. The related standards also are available on the NASW website: