The Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers is the only professional association of social workers in the province. It represents over 1,600 social workers working in very diverse settings most in institutional and others engaged in private practice. Some are working in direct practice settings in government agencies such as childrens services, income assistance, corrections, medical settings, education, justice. Others are in community-based settings and not-for-profit organizations.
The Association provides membership services to social workers such as professional development, a code of ethics, standards of practice, and legislation under which social workers practice in the province. The Association also provides a base for members to work on social issues and advocate for changes in social policy.
The governance of the Association consists of an elected Council, Executive and Standing Committees assisted by a competent staff ensures that the Association functions on behalf of the membership between annual general meetings.
The Association is organized into eight (8) regions each represented by a Regional or Co-Representatives who are elected members of the NSASW Council. The regions include one or more counties and are (from north to south): Cape Breton; North Shore; Colchester; Cumberland; Halifax; Annapolis Valley; South Shore; and Fundy Shore.
The social work legislation provides for a regulatory body, the Board of Examiners, which functions independently from the Association and consists of nine members of the NSASW, three government appointees together with a competent staff to ensure that the public receives the services of skilled and competent social work professionals.
The Association is a member of the Canaiian Association of Social Workers (CASW) originally founded in 1926 and is currently a federation of all provincial and territorial associations. The CASW 's role is to provide national leadership in and strengthen the social work profession in Canada. By its affiliation with CASW, the NSASW is part of the International Association of Social Workers founded in 1956 and comprised of over 50 countries. In addition to publishing a newsletter, position and research papers, an international symposium is held every two years.