– The National Association of Social Workers is the oldest and largest organization of professional social workers with about 155,000 members.

– Social workers provide more than half of the nation’s mental health counseling.

– Working with the needy became a distinct profession in the late 1800s. One agency, the Charity Organization Society, helped the needy in Great Britain, the United States and Canada. Its counselors, called friendly visitors, went to people’s homes and performed services, some of which were similar to those of present-day social workers.

– The New York School of Philanthropy was the first school to train people for jobs with social agencies. This school, now the Columbia University School of Social Work, was founded by the Charity Organization Society in 1898 in New York City.

– The term social work did not come into widespread use until the early 1900s. By that time, many state and local governments in the United States had started to provide social services financed by tax funds. The United States government treated the social security program in 1935, during the Great Depression. Under the program, the government became a major source of public aid.

– Professional social workers have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work. Some jobs require a person to have a master’s degree or doctor’s degree in social work.

Sources: National Association of Social Workers, World Book Encyclopedia.

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