Social Work Policy Institute Mission


The mission of the Social Work Policy Institute (SWPI), a think tank established within the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Foundation, is to:

  • strengthen social work’s voice in public policy deliberations;
  • inform policy­makers through the collection and dissemination of information on social work effectiveness; and,
  • create a forum to examine current and future issues in health care and social service delivery.

The Social Work Policy Institute examines issues that relate to the work of social workers, including how to serve people who have multiple or complex needs and how public agencies and other structures deliver health and human services. Current issues such as health care reform, health care disparities and the relevance of the global economy to the social work profession, as well as issues relating to evidence­informed practices will be investigated. SWPI calls upon researchers, practitioners, consumers, providers, and payers to help fill a gap in the profession by examining important issues and asserting social work’s contributions.

SWPI Issues And Approach

The Social Work Policy Institute examines issues that relate to the work of social workers, including how to serve people who have multiple or complex needs and how public agencies and other structures deliver health and human services. Current issues such as health care reform, health care disparities, and the relevance of the global economy to the social work profession, as well as issues relating to how evidence­-informed practices will be investigated. SWPI calls upon researchers, practitioners, consumers, providers, and payers to help fill a gap in the profession by examining important issues and asserting social work’s contributions.

The Institute collaborates with NASW’s Government Relations Office and the NASW Center for Workforce Studies. Ideas generated through the NASW Foundation, through NASW units, and through external partnerships will be explored. Serving as an information broker, the Institute creates processes to move research into practice and encourages research on critical practice and policy issues that affect the profession and the consumers of social work services.  The Institute encourages dialogues between researchers and key stakeholders involved in influencing and implementing social work services, and hosts symposia, develops papers, and uses print and electronic media, and policy briefings to disseminate findings and recommendations.

Social Work Policy Institute Logo


The Social Work Policy Institute works to strengthen social work’s voice in public policy deliberations, inform policymakers through the collection and dissemination of information on social work effectiveness. For comprehensive information about its publications and activities please visit the SWPI website.


Social Work Ethics & Law Institute Logo


The Social Work Ethics and Law Institute (SWELI) is a center within the NASW Foundation. SWELI was created by the NASW Legal Defense Fund to enhance social workers’ understanding and knowledge of legal and ethical issues affecting the social work profession.  For More information please visit SWELI on the NASW website.


NASW Social Work Talks Podcast Logo


In Episode 6, NASW Social Work Talks Podcast features Joan Levy Zlotnik, PhD, ACSW, Social Work Policy Institute Director from 2009-2018. Tune in for a discussion about how public policy is an important part of social work and how social workers are working to shape policy.