The National Association of Social Workers, the world’s largest organization of professional social workers, has approximately 153,000 members with 56 chapters across the United States, its territories, and abroad. Full membership in NASW is open to anyone who has an undergraduate or graduate degree in social work from a university program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. NASW’s mission includes advancing the quality of social work practice, promoting unity and recognition of the profession, advocating for standards that protect consumers, and proposing and supporting public policies that improve the human condition.
Two NASW initiatives have raised the collective awareness of the profession about violence and the connection between violence around the world and violence in the United States. The Violence and Development Project, which operated from 1993 until 1997, was a collaboration of NASW, the Council on Social Work Education, the Benton Foundation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The project helped social workers understand the relationship between trauma and violence. NASW also developed a partnership with the American Red Cross in 1997 to promote disaster training for practitioners. This social work training kit builds on these two projects by providing the link from preventing and responding to violence and trauma to responding to the individual and collective needs of victims of violent crime.
Texas was selected as a pilot site to test the training kit because it had both a well-established victim assistance movement and a well-established NASW state chapter with 5,500 members and 21 local branches across the state. Links between the victim assistance movement and NASW members already existed. Several social workers who were active in association activities also were pioneers and leaders in several branches of the victim assistance movement, particularly in the areas of domestic violence and sexual assault. In 2000, with its mix of rural and urban areas, Texas provided a natural laboratory for pilot testing such a project and its various products.