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Defining the Social Service Workforce

Who Is the Social Service Workforce?

The social service workforce is defined as paid and unpaid, governmental and nongovernmental professionals and paraprofessionals working to ensure the healthy development and well-being of children and families. The social service workforce focuses on preventative, responsive and promotive programs that support families and children in our communities by alleviating poverty, reducing discrimination, facilitating access to needed services, promoting social justice and preventing and responding to violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect and family separation. 

A social service system is understood as a system of interventions, programs and benefits that are provided by governmental, civil society and community actors to address both the social welfare and protection of vulnerable populations.

Yet globally, social service remains one of the most underfunded, misunderstood, and underappreciated fields of work. The social service sector struggles to attract, pay, and retain qualified workers. For example, vacancy rates for established professional and para-professional positions within sub-Saharan Africa range between 50%–60% and half those employed leave their jobs within five years. Statistics such as these indicate a crisis within systems of care and support for vulnerable populations.

Read more on how we're advocating for the workforce and strengthening the workforce. Also learn how this workforce provides critical support following emergencies. To view resources related to the social service workforce, please visit the resource database.

Worker Profiles Highlight Diversity of the Workforce

Profile of Mercy Marina, a case care worker in ZimbabweA collection of worker profiles helps to shine a spotlight on various tasks and training of different types of workers, as well as what motivates them to stay on the job.

We also feature case studies or stories that capture the efforts and successes of this workforce. Our current featured stories:

Share your story of change or submit a profile. We look forward to sharing your work with the Alliance network!