As we reflect on 2016, we thank you for your efforts to strengthen planning, development and support of the social service workforce over the last year. You, our members, are the "sparks" and the reason that the Alliance exists. You have helped advance our collective mission of promoting the knowledge and evidence, resources and tools, and political will and action needed to address key social service workforce challenges and better support vulnerable children and families. This newsletter highlights some of the progress we’ve made together this past year.
Convene and Connect
- With you, the Alliance helped increase momentum for social service workforce strengthening and inclusion of the workforce in plans to strengthen alternative care systems through presentations and participation in regional and global conferences (National Consultation on Accelerating the Children's Care Reform Process in Zambia in May; Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development in Seoul in June; the National Association of Social Workers bi-annual conference in Washington, DC, in June; Building on the Momentum in Geneva in October; Children's Rights in Alternative Care: Walk the Talk Conference in Paris in November).
- The Alliance presented at the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (November in Vancouver) on the need for integration of the social service workforce to improve overall health and well-being.
- The Alliance launched an updated website in March that features discussion boards, member profiles, a map of where members work and functionality to directly message other members.
- In July, the Alliance took steps to increase independence and growth through its transition to the Tides Center as new fiscal host and sponsor.
- The 3rd Annual Global Social Service Workforce Symposium, held in June, brought together 300 participants to discuss a stronger continuum of care for vulnerable children. The event also served as the launch of the second annual State of the Social Service Workforce Report that reviewed five years of workforce strengthening initiatives.
- As a culmination of two years of efforts by the Building Evidence Interest Group, experts convened in June to analyze current workforce strengthening strategies, identify evidence gaps and suggest research needs. Their findings and recommendations are compiled in The Evidence Base on the Social Service Workforce: Current Knowledge, Gaps and Future Research Direction and the evidence matrix. The findings were reviewed and discussed during a webinar in November, the 22nd webinar hosted by the Alliance.
- In November, the Alliance released a Review of Legislation and Policies that Support the Social Service Workforce in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, which offers a snapshot of workforce-supportive policies and examples of legislation that features the workforce in nine countries.
- Members contributed resources and tools through the online library, which now houses more than 570 materials.
- Daily blogs during Social Service Workforce Week in September generated discussion, shared promising practices and illustrated innovative approaches to ‘Build the Case for a Stronger Workforce.’
- A cohort of eight Alliance Ambassadors are working to inform strategy and influence policy at the local, national and regional level in support of social service workforce strengthening efforts. Following an orientation and training in September, they began their two-year terms.
- This year, the network grew to more than 1,100 members from 88 countries who are actively working to raise awareness and garner support at all levels for the social service workforce.
Why Be Involved in 2017
Looking ahead to 2017, we are energized by the many opportunities to convene members to exchange innovative approaches, advance knowledge of promising practices and amplify our voices by working together to advocate for greater recognition and integration of the social service workforce. We hope you will join us in the following ways:
- Join our new interest group on case management (being launched early 2017)
- Download the second edition of Para Professionals in the Social Service Workforce: Guiding Principles, Functions and Competencies, which will include new competencies for para social workers and community development workers after validation exercises in Ethiopia and DRC (early 2017).
- Join our collective global advocacy efforts on World Social Work Day (March 2017)
- Use our new advocacy toolkit aimed to assist members in outreach efforts (April 2017)
- Attend our 4th Annual Global Social Service Workforce Strengthening Symposium (May 2017)
- Participate in select conferences and events with us, including the 3rd Africa Regional Joint Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development (Zambia, June 2017) and the REPSSI Forum (Tanzania, September 2017)
- Take part in Social Service Workforce Week (September 2017)
- Share information for inclusion in the 3rd State of the Social Service Workforce Report (December 2017)
- Participate in webinars on key topics related to strengthening the workforce
Join Us in Amplifying Social Service Workforce Strengthening Efforts
The purpose of the Alliance, as a network, is to bring together members across borders to exchange ideas, share tools and advance promising practices. There are many ways you can engage with one another and the global community to help strengthen the workforce in 2017. The coming year offers a renewed opportunity to build upon our many successes, and we look forward to working together over the coming year to continue to strengthen our sector and improve the lives of vulnerable populations. More information on ways to become involved in upcoming activities will be shared throughout the year. We hope you’ll join us on our journey toward strengthening the workforce in 2017 and beyond.
Our work is made possible by: USAID, PEPFAR, 4Children and GHR Foundation.