In the spring of 1986, four weeks of state mandated training began for approximately forty-three social work practitioners representing all the regions of the Commonwealth. As this training progressed, it became apparent that the group was reaching out for something in additional to the training package that was being offered. That “something” was later defined as a need to bond together to address certain issues and concerns – a need born of may years of commonly shared frustrations characteristic of being a publicly employed Social Worker. Its was recognized that the same frustrations and needs were common throughout the state regardless of the size of one’ agency or the wealth on one’s locality. The group decided to explore the idea of forming an organization for the purpose of defining the causes of these frustrations, thereby developing a tool to address the defined causes. The Social Work Profession in our state would thus be enhanced, and ultimately the quality of service delivery to our clients would be improved.
The group formed a committee that began working to develop by-laws and structure for the proposed organization. Existing organizations in the state were approached with the idea of a possible affiliation. Individuals from each of the planning districts in Virginia were asked to serve as representatives to organize their district.
By the fall of 1989, the group had been incorporated as The Virginia Alliance of Social Work Practitioners. A formal affiliation with the Virginia League of Social Services Executives had been established. The Alliance accepted its first membership application in November 1989.
Since that time, the Alliance has continued to grow, and has developed cooperative working relationships with the League, the Benefit Programs Organization (BPRO), the Partnership of Office Services Support Employees in Social Services (POSSESS), the Virginia Department of Social Services, and the State Board of Social Services. The Alliance has provided a mechanism for local Social Workers and Employment Services Workers to impact the development of social services program policies. Planning District meetings and bi-annual conferences have provided a forum for personal and professional growth and development, while encouraging networking and providing support to local social services Social Work and Employment Service Workers. Activities focusing on state policies and legislation have united Social Work and Employment Service Workers and enabled them to have a stronger voice.