SW TIG Week: How AEA’s Guiding Principles Align with the Social Work Code of Ethics by Nicole Clark

I’m Nicole Clark, licensed social worker and owner of Nicole Clark Consulting, where I partner with community-based groups, local/national organizations, schools and more to design, implement, and evaluate programs and services geared toward women and girls of color.

In 2016, I shared on AEA365 why it matters that evaluators know the difference between the types of social workers we engage with. Today, I’m discussing ethics, its role in social work, and how it all aligns with AEA’s Guiding Principles for Evaluators.

Rad Resource: The first edition of the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics was approved on October 13, 1960. Since its last revision in 2008, The Code of Ethics has become the standard for social workers throughout the field, in many organizations and for state social work licensing laws.

Hot Tip: Section 5 of The NASW Code of Ethics focuses on social workers’ ethical responsibilities to the profession. In section 5.02 of the Code of Ethics (titled “Evaluation and Research”), social workers engaged in evaluation should:

  • Monitor and evaluate policies, implementation of programs, and practice interventions
  • Promote and facilitate evaluation and research to contribute to the development of knowledge
  • Critically examine and keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to social work and fully use evaluation and research evidence in their professional practice
  • Follow guidelines developed for the protection of evaluation and research participants
  • Obtain written informed consent or assent from participants/guardians, disclosing the nature, extent, and possible benefits and risks associated with evaluation and research (as well as inform participants of their right to withdrawal from an evaluation at any time without penalty)
  • Take appropriate steps to ensure that participants have access to appropriate supportive services, and take appropriate measures to protect participants from mental distress or unwarranted physical harm during an evaluation or study
  • Only discussed information related to an evaluation or study with appropriate individuals professionally related to the evaluation
  • Accurately reporting findings and take steps to correct errors found in published data using standard procedures, and ensure the confidentiality of program and study participants when reporting findings and research results
  • Educate themselves, students, and colleagues about responsible evaluation and research practices.

Lesson Learned: The NASW Code of Ethics aligns with AEA’s Guiding Principles for Evaluators as both the Code of Ethics and the Guiding Principles serve as cornerstones for sound, responsible, ethical behavior for social work evaluators. Both focus heavily on the client-professional relationship by highlighting the dignity of our clients and the overall societal contribution of evaluation. AEA’s Guiding Principles, however, takes up where the Code of Ethics leaves off by adding greater emphasis on stakeholder engagement in the promotion of collaborative inquiry, equity, and cultural responsiveness related to race, gender, religion, age, and more.

What better profession for social workers to be aligned with than evaluation?

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating SW TIG Week with our colleagues in the Social Work Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our SW TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “SW TIG Week: How AEA’s Guiding Principles Align with the Social Work Code of Ethics by Nicole Clark”

  1. Justin Garrison

    5) Hello,
    My name is Justin Garrison, I am currently learning about program evaluation. I like how you broke down the steps and how the guiding principles align with social work code of ethics. I am still in the process of learning so to get a post that is simple and to the point is refreshing. Then you also explained everything in more detail. It was a great educational piece.

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