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What are some social work policies?

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Some basic principles that define social work include a commitment to cultural competence and social diversity, the pursuit of changes to eliminate social injustices impacting the vulnerable and oppressed, respect for the worth and dignity of each person, and a focus on strengthening human relationships at all levels. Honesty, trustworthiness and competence are additional underpinnings of the profession. It is also important to note that specific social work policies vary by specialty, such as hospital or school social work, as well as by employer or organization.

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Social workers' specific ethical responsibilities to their clients include fostering and respecting a client's right to self-determination, only providing services when the client has consented with full understanding of the services and ensuring the cultural appropriateness of services. Professionals in this field must also avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of such conflicts and in no way allow their personal beliefs or experiences to interfere in the delivery of services. Maintaining strict confidentiality and respecting the right to privacy of all clients is also essential to the integrity of the profession. These foundational principles represent the work of the National Association of Social Workers, which reports a membership of over 130,000 social workers as of 2015.

The members of the International Federation of Social Workers hail from 116 countries. The federation's policies address the identification and prevention of sexual abuse, sexual orientation and gender expression, globalization and the environment, the needs of women and girls, and the needs of displaced persons and refugees. The federation adopted a global definition of social work in 2014, which incorporates the principles of social justice, human rights and respect for diversities consistent with the ethical principles of the National Association of Social Workers.

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