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6th Annual Social Service Workforce Strengthening Symposium: Evidence for Action

May 7, 2019
8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET
To calculate what time the Symposium will be held in your part of the world, use this link:

FHI 360 Conference Center, 1825 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC, USA
and live webcast
Registration is now open for both in-person and the webcast.
Download the viewing party toolkit to participate in the webcast as a group.


This year’s Symposium will feature experiences and lessons learned from recent comprehensive social service workforce mappings and assessments in 30 countries. Representatives will provide an overview of the mapping process, trends, recommendations and next steps for using this evidence toward developing workforce strengthening strategies.

Collecting and analyzing data to better understand the social service workforce is fundamental and foundational to creating informed advocacy. Speakers from donor groups, an association and an international NGO will then provide examples of using evidence and recommendations to advocate for and achieve greater support to better plan, develop and support the workforce. Speakers and breakout work sessions will also make connections to global trends and progress toward achieving the recommendations within the Call to Action.

The Symposium will include the launch of the 2018 State of the Social Service Workforce Report which provides a comparative look at social service workforce development in four regions. 


The objectives of this symposium are to:

  • Facilitate discussion and information sharing of regional and national coordination efforts to strengthen the social service workforce and improve the lives of in children, families, individuals and communities
  • Share promising examples from various country contexts on how comprehensive, participatory assessment and mapping processes can lead to improved planning and development for the social service workforce
  • Launch the Alliance’s 2018 State of the Social Service Workforce Report 

Forum Participants

Participants will be able to join in person in Washington, DC, and via live webcast from any location. It is anticipated that attendees will represent a range of constituencies, including non-governmental staff and practitioners engaged in programs providing support to children, families, individuals and communities, and strengthening social service systems; government staff working in social affairs and social protection; donors with investments in child and family welfare; trainers and social work educators; and representatives from professional associations. 

Event Organizer 

The Symposium is being organized the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, a non-profit network with more than 2200 members in 136 countries, that aims to promote the knowledge and evidence, resources and tools, and political will and action needed to address key social service workforce challenges, especially within low- to middle-income countries. Tides Center acts as the fiscal sponsor and host of the Alliance. A 13-member Steering Committee oversees and guides the direction and development of the Alliance and provides support to the Alliance Secretariat. 

Event Sponsors

This event is made possible through support from the GHR Foundation, UNICEF and The Network for Social Work Management. We invite others to co-sponsor the Symposium. Please view details for sponsorship and recognition benefits.

Symposium Agenda

8:00 – 8:30 a.m. Registration and Coffee/Tea 

8:30 – 8:40         Welcome
Betsy Sherwood, Director, & Nicole Brown, Deputy Director, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance 

8:40 – 8:55         Keynote
Ted Chaiban, Director of Programmes, UNICEF

8:55 – 10:20       Panel 1: Building the Evidence Base to Support Social Service Workforce Development
Description: Panelists will share lessons learned from UNICEF and Alliance-led social service workforce assessments and mapping in various regions.

Moderator: Kirsten Di Martino, Senior Adviser, Child Protection Section, UNICEF, and Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Steering Committee Member


  • Overview of Mapping Methodology & Process for Middle East and North Africa, South Asia & East Asia Pacific Regions: Natia Partskhaladze, Senior Technical Advisor, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance
  • Summary of Approach in the Europe and Central Asia Region: Kirsten Di Martino
  • Country Perspectives: Videos from two countries on what they learned during the mapping process and how this information is informing future workforce strengthening initiatives
  • Key Findings, Trends & Recommendations from Mapping & Assessments: Alex Collins, Consultant and Lead Author, State of the Social Service Workforce Report 2018, and Technical Program Manager, IntraHealth International
  • New Resources & Next Steps for UNICEF's Support to Social Service Workforce Strengthening: UNICEF TBD

10:20 – 10:45     Networking Break

10:45 – 11:30     Panel 2: Advocating for Resource Allocation: The Role of professional associations, non-governmental organizations, donor groups and other stakeholders
Description: Panelists will provide an overview of how they advocate for the strengthening of the social service workforce within their current roles. Panelists will also provide practical examples of how they have leveraged evidence and an increased knowledge-base to make the case for investing in the workforce.

John Williamson, Senior Technical Advisor, Displaced Children and Orphans Fund, USAID

  • Zeni Thumbadoo, Deputy Director, National Association of Child Care Workers, South Africa
  • Jane Calder, Senior Child Protection Advisor, Save the Children UK, based in Thailand
  • Ghazal Keshavarzian, Director, Elevate Children Funders Group

11:30 – 12:20     Breakout Activity: Developing Key Messages for Stakeholders on the Importance of Supporting the Social Service Workforce

Description: Facilitated group activity aimed at developing 3-5 key messages that highlight the importance of supporting and investing in the social service workforce. Groups will collaborate to craft top line messages for targeted audiences which will then be disseminated by the Alliance using a variety of platforms. Groups will also be able to review existing materials to support advocacy efforts. Those participating via webcast will be able to participate by entering comments, statements and key phrases into the YouTube Live chat field to be shared with the groups. At the conclusion of this session, messages developed by each group will be shared with the whole audience. 

  • Group I: Messages for UN Agencies, Governments & Donor Groups
    Facilitators: Aniruddha Kulkarni, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Headquarters
    Alexandra Tucci, Senior Communications Officer, Together for Girls
  • Group II: Messages for the Media & General Public
    Facilitators: Sarah Neville, Co-Chair Advocacy Interest Group, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance
    Nicole Brown, Deputy Director, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance
  • Group III: Messages for Members of the Social Service Workforce
    Facilitators: Sarah Johnson, Knowledge and Communications Specialist, Better Care Network
    Susan Rubin, Assistant Director, National Association of Social Workers Foundation (US)

12:20 – 12:30    Closing Remarks
Rebecca Davis, Chairperson, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Steering Committee