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Improving Care for OVC through Systems Strengthening in Botswana

IntraHealth International has joined the Call to Action: Strengthening the Social Service Workforce to Better Protect Children and Achieve the SDGs. This call is close to our hearts, because our mission—which is to improve the performance of health workers and strengthen the systems in which they work—includes social service workers, from government-employed social workers to trained community case workers or volunteers on child-protection committees. They play a key role in connecting vulnerable children and families to services, including health services, and work hand-in-hand with health workers to achieve a world in which everyone everywhere has the health care they need to thrive.

This inclusive commitment is what motivated our choice to sign on to the Call to Action and its specific recommended actions align with much of our work in health and social welfare systems and workforce strengthening.

For example, in Botswana, we’re a partner on two USAID-funded projects that are improving the lives of orphans and vulnerable children and their families. One is the Catholic Relief Services (CRS)-ledCoordinating Comprehensive Care for Children (4Children) project, where IntraHealth worked alongside the government of Botswana and USAID on the qualitative portion of a national situational analysis of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).

The analysis revealed the high caseloads district social workers experience (especially given that one professional covers several villages), and how difficult it is for them to meet expectations. They face the heavy burden of administering assessments for households that need government cash transfers / OVC grants, and suspicion from community members, some of whom accuse them of corruption when their households are deemed ineligible for assistance.

Ms. Seitlhamo presenting report on the assessment of existing system for accessing OVC social protection services during consultative workshop

“We know the community does not like us,” one respondent told us. “They think we are corrupt, when we are following the policy. They think we have bad attitudes, when we are overworked and overburdened.”

A motivated, well-equipped workforce is essential for providing high-quality services—and to providing a safety net for the families most
at risk. The results show us some of the challenges to making that workforce a reality in Botswana.

Under the Project Concern International (PCI)-led Botswana Comprehensive Care and Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children project—which empowers communities to seek, support, and provide HIV/AIDS-related services to OVC and their parents/caregivers—we’ve used what we learned from the situational analysis to support government systems and workforce strengthening efforts at the national level.

We’re doing this mainly by seconding a senior technical advisor to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, which is the primary custodian of OVC, particularly the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Community Development.

So far, we’ve helped:

  • Form a technical working group to assume ownership of the national-level efforts
  • Complete an assessment of the existing system of enrolling children in social protection/welfare services (like OVC grants and other forms of assistance such as birth registration, emergency food and clothing, and psychosocial support).
  • Determine which gaps to address within structures, systems, and procedures.

Findings from the assessment point to a need for more effective policy dissemination, so that across sectors and down to the civil society organization (CSO) level, all those who are involved in delivering services to OVC are clear on their roles, responsibilities, and reporting requirements, as well as joint planning at the district level with CSOs, since they are one of the major partners in OVC programming in Botswana.

“OVC problems require a multisectoral approach,” one government policymaker shared during the assessment, “and that calls for information-sharing, joint planning, and partnership in program implementation. If there is poor coordination, the management of the programs will be compromised, hence negatively affecting the quality of service provision.”

According to Ms. Boipelo Seitlhamo, senior social service workforce advisor with the project, internal consultative meetings on the report results “created dialogue with the Department of Social Protection and paved the way for developing an action plan that prioritizes response to gaps in knowledge and implementation of policies, reporting and referrals, including a mechanism for tracking and documenting OVC interventions.”  

After the report results and recommendations are widely disseminated, the project plans to work with the Department of Social Projection, the lead agency in rolling out a revised enrollment system that will ensure that all eligible children are assessed, registered, and receive benefits in line with the Children’s Act. The results will also inform a new national framework for forging effective working relationships between government and CSOs to deliver better services for OVC.

For decades, IntraHealth has worked to improve health and social systems around the world, partnering with countries to better plan, develop, and support their frontline workforces. And as the HIV epidemic continues and other threats—such as Ebola and Zika outbreaks and global refugee crises—grow, so will the needs of vulnerable children and their families. Our work is far from done.

IntraHealth International was the host and a fiscal sponsor of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance from 2012 to 2016 under the USAID-funded global CapacityPlus Project.

Caption: Ms. Seitlhamo presenting a report on the assessment of existing system for accessing OVC social protection services during consultative workshop.

Laura Horvath's picture

Strengthening Families to Reduce Vulnerability in Sierra Leone – the work of Helping Children Worldwide

Children and staff at the CRCHelping Children Worldwide has joined the Call to Action: Strengthening the Social Service Workforce to Better Protect Children and Achieve the SDGs because the ideas and recommendations reflect major goals of their programs in Bo, Sierra Leone. The organization supports the Child Rescue Centre (CRC), which provides education, health care, mentoring and programming to break the cycle of poverty for 600 vulnerable children and families throughout Sierra Leone.

The CRC has been working for nearly 20 years to improve the lives of vulnerable children living in chronic, systemic conditions of extreme poverty by ensuring that they can attend school, have access to free medical care, and live safely in family, kinship and foster-based care, supported by strong case management. Additionally, the CRC provides families access to parenting workshops, life skills training, individual and family counseling, family strengthening activities, and access to financial literacy training and microfinance loans, to help families work toward self-sustainability. 

To support children at the CRC in continuing their education and developing professional skills, Helping Children Worldwide covers school fees and offers scholarships. Henry is one of those beneficiaries, who has returned as a social worker to work at the CRC and help the next generation.  Henry’s story is unique in that he was a child supported by the CRC’s Child Support Program, which provided health and education support from primary through secondary school. After graduation, he applied for and won a Promise Scholarship which enabled him to attend university. Graduating with honors, Henry holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Njala University. As the Assistant Coordinator for the Sponsor A Child program at the CRC, Henry is responsible for the cases of 70 children supported by the CRC’s programs.

Henry credits being a CRC student with his path toward becoming a social worker. He was drawn to social work out of a desire to help people - particularly those who are most vulnerable. He has always been interested in community development and work has a deep, lasting and positive impact. Being a case manager for vulnerable children and their families helps him see that impact every day, he says. Henry finds the work at CRC particularly rewarding. In supporting CRC’s vision and focus, he is positively giving back to the community of Bo.

The Child Rescue Centre is also pioneering implementation of best practices in transitioning child welfare programs from institutional care and orphanage model settings to family-based care within the community. Helping Children Worldwide and the Child Rescue Centre contribute to the knowledge exchange by working closely with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Social Welfare and Gender Affairs as well as with other child-focused NGOs in the Bo region and in country, by meeting regularly to share knowledge and best practices (focused on family reintegration and transition from institutional care, as well as compliance with global research and standards for robust case management) at a time when all residential children’s programs in Sierra Leone are making the transition to family-based care. The CRC is helping lead the way, and in June 2018 successfully reintegrated the remaining 20 students living in group homes in the community into family homes, foster or kinship care.  

Henry’s deepest hopes for the children on his caseload are the same as for his own two-year-old son: to do well in school, find a bright future, and know how deeply they are blessed by God to be in a loving family.

Helping Children Worldwide recognizes that one way to strengthen families is to strengthen the skills of the social service workers, including social workers like Henry, who work with children and vulnerable families. HCW is committed to continuing to support the Child Rescue Center as it works to build capacity of social workers and case management staff striving to meet global standards in the care of children at risk.

Anonymous's picture

Implementing a Paradigm Shift in Uganda from Institutional Care to Family-based Care through Increased Training and Awareness for Catholic Caregivers

By Sr. Margaret Kubanze, Secretary General, Association for the Religious in Uganda

As Uganda places a stronger emphasis on community-based, family-oriented care toward implementation of a national alternative care framework, the Catholic Care for Children in Uganda (CCCU) initiative is supporting training religious caregivers within care institutions. The purpose of this training is to support family reintegration, prevent future family separation and ultimately end institutionalization within Uganda.

Launching Catholic Care for Children in Uganda

CCCU is an initiative of the Association of Religious in Uganda and financially supported by GHR Foundation in Minneapolis, USA. The program goal is to strengthen Religious Institutes in becoming champions of child care reform and improving outcomes for children living outside of family care. For a smooth and effective community-oriented paradigm shift to community-based care for children, the CCCU program was launched in 2016.

The program is currently working with 17 Religious Institutes operating 46 child care institutions (CCIs) with 1,773 children. Children enter the institutions largely due to family poverty and the mentality that children will have greater access to nutrition and education in institutions rather than remaining with their families. These families don’t understand the negative results of sending their children away to be raised outside of a family.

The program is being implemented in three phases, from 2016-2021. The program began with a rapid assessment to determine the skills and qualifications of those running the institutions. A second assessment was undertaken to determine the extent to which the legal frameworks for child protection are being implemented. Both studies revealed a need for greater training and education for staff, as well as increased awareness on the negative impacts of institutionalization.

Building Staff Capacity to Care for Children

Recipients of the certificate in child protectionTo build the capacity of staff, 80 scholarships were awarded for education in social work and social administration. A total of 46 staff, one per institution, obtained a bachelor’s degree in social work, and an additional 17 staff are continuing to work toward a master’s degree in social work. Additionally, 176 Religious staff members were trained in a certificate course on protection of children that included learning about the alternative care framework and implementing effective case management practices. The trainings were conducted by professors in the Department of Social Work at Makerere University in partnership with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

Phase IIis a two-year phase, from 2018-2019, that aims to ensure the 46 Catholic Care Institutions are exceeding the new standards set by the government for operating child care institutions. The program will support a few CCIs as a pilot to transition children to community/family-based care in preparation for mass program rollout in Phase III, which is expected to begin in 2021 and will support all 46 CCIs to align their work with the Alternative Care Framework and transition entirely to community- and family-based care.

Emerging Legal Frameworks in Uganda

The Children Act, passed in 1997, is the overarching legal framework for the welfare and protection of children in Uganda. An amendment bill was passed in April 2016, and includes significant changes in the legal environment for the care of orphans and other vulnerable children. In addition to broadening of the definition of children’s rights and violence against children, there is a stronger emphasis on community-based, family-oriented care.

This includes development of a stricter Alternative Care Framework that specifies a continuum of care and mandates that institutionalization must be a last resort. The framework defines six core care options in preference: (1) family reunification, (2) kinship and community care, (3) domestic adoption; (4) foster care; (5) inter-country adoption and; (6) specialized institutional care. A Deinstitutionalization Plan is also being developed and includes empirical evidence on the negative impacts of institutional care on the overall development of children, the increasing abuse and exploitation of children in child care institutions including child trafficking, and the higher costs associated with institutional care (Carter, 2005, and Walakira et al, 2014). If implemented, the plan will result in resettlement of approximately 64% of children currently in institutional care. The rules and regulations for approved homes were been revised in 2013 and made more stringent as far as approval and minimum standards for child care institutions are concerned. Legal liability is placed on individuals and organisations operating unapproved homes.

Implementation of the framework and deinstitutionalization plan will result in immediately halting approval of institutions while a systematic assessment of existing ones is conducted, subsequently resulting in closure and more strict inspection of child care institutions by government.

In anticipation of this and based on the principal law’s highlight on family-based care, these strategies are already being adopted and implemented into the current work of Catholic sisters and brothers caring for orphans and other vulnerable children. Catholic Care for Children in Uganda believes strong gatekeeping mechanisms blended with effective case management practices, skills that are being developed through social work studies, will prevent unnecessary admission of children into instructional care and prevent the prolonged, unnecessary stay of children in CCIs. This will not only contribute to de-institutionalization efforts in Uganda but also promote child protection by ensuring that every child is entitled to enjoyment of parental care and protection that is free of abuse, violence, exploitation and neglect.

Amy Bess's picture

Actions for Realizing a Stronger Social Service Workforce

Day 5, September 28, Social Service Workforce Week

In our work over the past five years, the Alliance has heard from thousands of social service workers that they need greater support in order to better serve children and families. Over the course of this past week of Social Service Workforce Week, our goal has been to rally social service workforce advocates to jointly call for key actions.

But once this week is over, where do we go from here? What actions do we take? And how do we know if those actions are making a difference?

The Alliance network, working with our many partners including USAID / PEPFAR and UNICEF and the organizations behind the INSPIRE Implementation Handbook, has helped to establish a few key milestone indicators. These indicators are relevant to any individual or group providing social services, and can be measured at the national level and compiled at a global level.

  • Existence of a government-led, national coalition to strengthen the social service workforce
  • Existence of a national strategic plan on strengthening the social service workforce
  • Existence of a normative framework on outlining/defining functions (roles and responsibilities) for social service workers and practice standards
  • Budget and mandated institutions for planning, developing and supporting the social service workforce
  • Nationwide comprehensive mapping of social service workforce regularly carried out and documented in an information management system

We will be tracking these indicators and several others across different countries to assess global progress in workforce strengthening. As noted on previous days during Social Service Workforce Week, the Alliance has supported workforce mapping processes to gather information about workforce structures and needs in 37 countries. But that is only one step in this multifaceted process that offers a baseline against which to measure future progress.

As a network member, we invite you to take part in this exciting process that will help us all see the change we are working to create. 

Get Involved

You can:

  1. Help support or establish a national level government-led stakeholder leadership group or coalition in your country, whether you are a representative of a government, civil society, non-governmental organization (NGO), university, training institution, professional association, religious entity, national donor, multilateral, bilateral, or private sector. It’s an opportunity to work with others involved in planning, budgeting, managing and supporting your country’s social service workforce.
  2. Does your country have adequate data on the current structure and needs of the social service workforce? If not, advocate to the stakeholder leadership group to carry out a workforce mapping and help to gather data. The Alliance will soon be producing a mapping toolkit to help guide this work for national actors.
  3. Support the development and implementation of your national workforce strengthening strategy based on available workforce information. It is important that these strategies include a diversity of views and experiences, including those who access social services.
  4. Help measure and report on the indicators mentioned above.
  5. Get involved in advocacy efforts to ensure that social service workforce strengthening remains high on the global agenda.
  6. Let us know how your organization is contributing to any of these steps – we’ll feature good examples in our newsletters and reports so that other organizations can learn from your efforts.

Additional resources:

Amy Bess's picture

Ending Violence Against Children Requires a Strong Social Service Workforce

Day 4, September 27, Social Service Workforce Week

As many Alliance members know, there have been multiple recent efforts to address violence against children across the globe. Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 calls for ending all forms of violence against children. The distressing findings of many national surveys of violence against children have catalyzed stakeholders to take action and work together to end violence. To date, 23 countries have signed up as Pathfinder Countries through the Global Partnership to End Violence, demonstrating their commitment to lead comprehensive initiatives to end violence against children as outlined in National Plans of Action. These plans are meant to incorporate the seven strategies to end violence as outlined in the INSPIRE package and the accompanying actions laid out in the recently released INSPIRE Implementation Handbook

Studies show that approximately 1 billion children worldwide have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence in the last year alone. While the magnitude of violence against children can be discouraging, one of the solutions and reasons for great hope lies in strengthening the social service workforce. 

The social service workforce is on the front lines every day to prevent and respond to violence against children in its multiple forms, by:

  • Playing a key role as central actors facilitating collaboration amongst service providers
  • Carrying out strengths-based assessments
  • Providing or referring children and their families to support services
  • Monitoring children separated from their families who are living in institutions and home placements and supporting their reintegration
  • Providing direct counseling and psychosocial support
  • Mobilizing communities and facilitating community discussions about cultural beliefs and social norms related to violence
  • Supporting the development of policies and legislation
  • Carrying out policy and programmatic advocacy

Infographic on importance of a strong SSWSocial service workers have noted the many positive changes over time that children and families have experienced as a result of their work together, as reported in the State of the Social Service Workforce Report 2017. Outcomes include an increase in children and families’ self-worth, self-confidence and morale. They have seen increased trust, communication of feelings, attachment and emotional bonds among family members. They have noted that caretakers better understand how to engage with and care for the children in their care. And they have seen families benefit from various services, such as health and nutrition, shelter and birth certificates and have become empowered to earn income to support themselves and their families.

These positive outcomes are only possible when the right number of workers are in the right places with the right training. This requires careful strategic planning with a diverse range of people at the table.

Planning and Developing the WorkforceMany countries recognize the importance of collaborative workforce strengthening strategies and are incorporating them into their National Plans of Action to Address Violence against Children. Read some best practices in integrating the social service workforce within National Plans of Action

Today as part of Social Service Workforce Week, we are offering a webinar that will provide examples of ways that coalitions of organizations coming together at the national level are developing and implementing comprehensive plans to strengthen the workforce as part of their overall plan to end violence.

For example, in Tanzania, a coalition has come together to identify concrete actions to improve workforce distribution, including ensuring that one Social Welfare Officer per district be assigned to schools to help identify children who need to be referred to services. 

In Montenegro, one of their workforce strategies includes improving the design of both pre-service and professional development curricula for relevant professionals working with children victims of violence.Supporting the Workforce

Fortunately, for others looking for effective ways to improve the workforce and the provision of social services and support to children and families affected by violence, several documents, tools and approaches exist. The diagram to the right outlines strategies to plan, develop and support the workforce that have been included in national strategies. The Alliance will be working with UNICEF to develop a toolkit of resources linked to specific workforce strengthening strategies.

We hope you’ll continue to work with the many members in this network to improve workforce strengthening efforts, and if you’re not yet a member, we invite you to join us in these efforts. As we all know, strengthening and supporting the social service workforce is an important pillar of any plan to address violence against children, and success requires working together.

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Get Involved

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Read how organizations that have signed on to the Call to Action are supporting social service workforce strengthening efforts:

  • Having worked in child protection for the last 10 years in Thailand, Global Child Advocates recognizes the need for an increase in social service workforce capacity to provide family support services and assistance to orphanages seeking to shift their care model to family-based care. Working alongside the Thai child welfare department, the organization provides guidance for orphanages and shelters along the border region on child protection best practices in an effort to provide family-based care for all child victims of abuse and trafficking. GCA is supporting social service workforce strengthening as a critical component to facilitating care reform in a safe and sustainable way so that more children have the chance to grow up in a safe, loving family.  
  • Shanduko Yeupenyu Child Care in Zimbabwe supports the Call to Action because it aligns with their mission of protecting children through strengthening the social service workforce. Shanduko helps children to thrive in difficult circumstances through provision of psychosocial support services to physically and sexually abused children. They support drop in centers in the region and consult with child protection committees, recognizing the key role of social service providers in this work.
  • The Together for Girls partnership aims to raise awareness, promote evidence-based solutions and galvanize coordinated action to end violence against girls and boys. TfG believes that a strong and locally-based social service workforce plays a crucial role in both preventing and effectively responding to violence against children. TfG is contributing to knowledge exchange and cross-cultural learning through a variety of resources, including launching the “Every Hour Matters” campaign, which aims to increase awareness about the critical importance of quickly accessing post-rape care and calls on national and community leaders to ensure comprehensive services are available in all communities.
  • The Centre for Excellent for Looked After Children in Scotland’s (CELCIS) international work aims to promote the implementation of Guidelines on the Alternative Care of Children. CELCIS shares the understanding that the social service workforce, encompassing social workers and social pedagogues, carers and multiple other professionals and volunteers, play a pivotal role in reforming and improving current care systems and increasing the emphasis on supporting families and preventing the separation of children, while ensuring that those who cannot be cared for in their own families receive the best possible care. CELCIS is developing a collaboration of key stakeholders to develop course topics and identify resources to strengthen knowledge and practice skills in child and family social work in specific countries where professional social work is a new or recently developed profession, or where it has recently expanded.
Nicole Brown's picture

Development of a National Social Service Workforce Strengthening Strategy: The Ugandan experience

Day 3, September 26, Social Service Workforce Week

In too many countries, social services remain severely under-staffed and unable to adequately prevent and respond to violence against children. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires a well-planned, developed and supported social service workforce.

This week, during Social Service Workforce Week, the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance is raising awareness and interest in the need to strengthen the social service workforce by sharing examples of how countries are implementing national level goals as outlined in the Call to Action for Strengthening the Social Service Workforce to Better Protect Children and Achieve the SDGs.

The Call to Action recommends country and global level actions that build on existing efforts underway nationally. Endorsed by 31 organizations, the Call to Action calls on relevant state governments to initiate, lead and engage in dialogue with partners to develop or enhance a national workforce strengthening strategy, based on workforce mapping and through a government-led workforce leadership group. Effective strategies make choices about key workforce elements to strengthen in the near- and longer-term and incorporate actions related to a diversified workforce of para professionals and professionals at community, district, regional and national levels. Including the views and experiences of children, youth and adults who have received services must be part of the development of such a strategy.

In Uganda recognizing that greater budget allocations are needed for strengthening the social service workforce to achieve SDG 16.2 to end all violence against children, the government is leading the development of a multi-sectoral national social service workforce strengthening strategy.

“Uganda has been involved in many aspects of workforce strengthening, including in the early years of systems mapping, to care reforms, recently completing the Violence Against Children studies.” said Patrick Onyango Mangen, Country Director, TPO Uganda, in introducing a national panel to speak on workforce strengthening strategy development at the Alliance’s 5th Annual Symposium in May 2018. He also shared that Uganda is a Pathfinder Country for the Global Partnership to End Violence Children and is piloting the INSPIRE program as one of the action points within the national action plan. “The Ministry of Gender has been at the helm of these reforms in terms of leadership and multi-sectoral coordination.”

Lydia Joyce Najjemba, National Coordinator, Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, presented at the Symposium on the government’s key role in building multi-sectoral collaboration and influencing other stakeholder groups. This includes:

  • Quarterly meetings across stakeholder groups organized by the Ministry, and establishment of the Child Protection Working Group that brings together stakeholder groups and other ministries of government
  • Support to the National Association of Social Workers Uganda for development of processes and policies to register, regulate and professionalize social workers and development of a competency framework for para social workers;
  • Collaboration on service delivery with NGOs and civil society;
  • Research and education to support training and degree programs, including a Master of Social Work, with Makerere University;
  • Capacity building and project development;
  • Advocacy for greater funding and policy support for the social service workforce by using data from the VAC studies
  • Enacting child protection policies, including the first ever child policy and legal protections
  • Mapping of the workforce and services to deploy resources where needed

Through GHR Foundation, USAID and UBS Optimus funding support, the Alliance, Alliance Ambassadors and Steering Committee representative in Uganda organized a multi-sectoral stakeholder summit earlier this month. The summit brought together 100 actors to discuss and plan social service workforce strengthening efforts to build capacity in the areas of child protection and care reform.

Michael Byamukama speaks at the Ugandan Symposium“While there has not yet been the opportunity to have social work practice as an area of concern discussed at national level, there is growing interest among a cross section of social work professionals and child focused agencies to work collaboratively with government institutions. Standardizing social work curriculum, setting minimum standards, regulating social work practice and skilling the social workforce at service delivery level will ensure social and economic transformation – a dream we all anxiously look forward to seeing,” said Michael Byamukama, President, National Association of Social Workers Uganda.

As Uganda continues to strengthen family and kinship care in order to avoid separations and end institutions, other countries can continue to learn from Uganda’s experiences. The SDGs offer an unprecedented opportunity to undertake such efforts.

Developing or enhancing a national workforce strengthening strategy is just one of many steps toward realizing a stronger social service workforce that is best positioned to help achieve the SDGs. An investment in a strong social service workforce is a long-term investment in a resilient, peaceful and prosperous society.


In a show of support for the Call to Action, 34 organizations have added their logos. Many are working to strengthen the social service workforce in order to prevent family separation:

  • Maestral International supports systemic, holistic and cross-cutting approaches to addressing violence, exploitation and abuse of children. Maestral is a member of the Changing the Way We Care consortium that includes Catholice Relief Services and Lumos. The initiative will promote the development and strengthening of the social service workforce and case management assessments and referrals based on the particular needs of each child in Guatemala, Kenya, Moldova and Zambia to strengthen families and reduce reliance on residential institutions for children.
  • Better Care Network believes that a strong social service workforce is critical to meeting the needs of children without adequate family care. The development of a skilled and well-supported social service workforce is particularly important as countries move toward reforming their care systems and work to reduce reliance on residential care, strengthen families, prevent separation and promote family and community-based alternative care options. To help achieve this, BCN and Save the Children have co-facilitated the Tracking Progress Initiative to enable national-level actors to determine the extent to which their state or region has effectively implemented the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, and the priorities for change still ahead, through a strengths-based diagnostic and learning tool. 
  • SOS Children’s Villages aims to ensure the best care for children and young people in its programmes in partnership with other stakeholders to ensure every child receives quality care and protection in a nurturing family environment. SOS believes a properly skilled, resourced and supported child care workforce is key in ensuring quality care. To increasement recognition, remuneration and training in rights-based gender-sensitive training, SOS is collaborating with international and national partners through two projects: Prepare for Leaving Care (2017-2018) and Leaving Care (2018-2020). The projects included development of a set of national policy recommendations on how training for care professionals working with care leavers can be sustained.
  • TPO Uganda is a national level organization working with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to support dissemination, uptake and programing based on the VACS findings. TPO Uganda in collaboration with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), conducted a comprehensive mapping exercise to identify actors and structures that interact with children at all levels. They built on the sub-county Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s (OVC) Coordination Committee to include representatives from selected informal structures for a community-led service workforce to champion VAC prevention and response.

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Get Involved in Social Service Workforce Week

Today is Day 3 of Social Service Workforce Week. Review and share the blogs, resources and examples of efforts underway:

We encourage you to get involved through the following methods:

  • Download the Call to Action and share with your network. Available in English and Spanish.
  • Share stories from your organization by emailing the Alliance about effective advocacy approaches you have implemented, including positive outcomes achieved, and country or global level actions as outlined in the Call to Action that you are involved in.
  • Invite a colleague to become a member, and they will receive the daily updates directly.

Additional Resources:

TPO Uganda is establishing community-led committes for VAC preventionRelated Resources on Uganda’s Approach and Global Learnings:

Natia Partskhaladze's picture

Mapping the Social Service Workforce to Better Protect Children

Day 2, September 25, Social Service Workforce Week

To support appropriate responses through effective child protection, as well as justice, health, education and quality care interventions, it is imperative to have a strong protection system in place. One critical element of this system is an effective social service workforce with a clear mandate, appropriate resources and relevant training and supervision. However, limited data about the workforce and the systems that support it makes it challenging for governments and partners to identify and implement evidence-based solutions to strengthen the social service workforce.

During Social Service Workforce Week, the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance aims to highlight the importance of mapping and assessing the current status of the workforce, included as a national level goal in the Call to Action for Strengthening the Social Service Workforce to Better Protect Children and Achieve the SDGs currently underway in many countries with the leadership of the national level groups.

The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance has provided input into workforce mapping and assessments in 37 countries. Currently, the Alliance is carrying out workforce assessments in six countries within the East Asia and Pacific region and eight countries within the Middle East and North Africa region in collaboration with UNICEF Regional and Country Offices. In addition, the Alliance completed a scoping of eight countries in South Asia, documented in the State of the Social Service Workforce in South Asia Report and 15 countries globally as described in our 2015 State of the Social Service Workforce Report. Each of these assessments is structured around the Framework for Strengthening of the Social Service Workforce developed through consultations with a wide range of stakeholders globally and intended to guide country efforts for planning, developing and supporting the workforce.

Applying the Alliance-tested approach, national workforce leadership groups ensure contextualization of the assessment methodology and tools and support their application in the each country. Groups advise on the definition of the social service workforce, sampling and data collection, assessment process and priority actions for strengthening and advocating for the social service workforce as applicable to the country.

Workforce assessments aim to establish a baseline of information and data on the status of the social service workforce in each country in order to guide and assist country-level action plans toward strengthening the social service workforce. With this broader goal in mind, the mapping process is meant to:

  • Examine the availability of workforce-supportive legislation and policies
  • Identify availability and duration of different levels of education and training
  • Document the existence and role of professional associations and regulatory bodies that establish licensing, competency standards and/or a professional code of ethics
  • Record the number of professional and para professional workers at the national and subnational levels, in government and non-government positions
  • Assess workers’ perceptions of work environment, supervision, job satisfaction, professional development, incentive systems and career paths.

Country experience of mapping the social service workforce

In Jordan, the Country-level Task Group led by the Ministry of Social Development has identified several key initiatives that will be informed and supported by the mapping and review, including the Social Work Professionalization initiative underway in the country. The high-level officials of the Ministry are also keen to share the Jordan experience of understanding workforce and strengthening its components at the level of the League of Arab States, as an example for other countries.

Indonesia has achieved significant advances in data collection for reviewing its workforce. Findings from a survey of 1,180 professional and paraprofessional workers employed by the state and non-state entities were discussed at the national stakeholder meeting held in Jakarta in August 2018. According to Dr. Kanya Eka Santi, Secretary for Director General of Social Welfare, preliminary findings will already be of use for the country, as the research and education body is currently working on identifying training needed for social service workers.

Country task group meeting in IndonesiaMaryam S.V. Nainggolan, Secretary General of the Consortium of Social Work of Indonesia, composed of 13 state and non-state social welfare organizations, acknowledged the importance of the new data for informing the legislation currently being developed in the country. The process of advocating for and drafting laws to professionalize and strengthen the workforce, initiated in 2012 at Bandung School of Social Work, will benefit from efforts to assess the social service workforce in Indonesia. “We need to have a good communication strategy to advocate for strengthening social work practice, and this is our responsibility. Findings of this mapping and assessment will contribute to our advocacy work on Social Work Practice Law,” says Mrs. Nainggolan.

Country task group meeting in Cambodia, August 2018Similarly, Cambodia echoes the national level goal on mapping of the social service workforce outlined in the Call to Action. Guided by the Action Plan for Improving Child Care and other national strategies, the country is implementing child care system reform aimed at family strengthening, development of alternative care options and reducing reliance on institutional care. The key role of the social service workforce in achieving these objectives and the importance of having current workforce data is fully acknowledged by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation of Cambodia and other partners in Cambodia.

”Family Care First wholeheartedly supports the mapping of the social service workforce in Cambodia.  We believe that the mapping will enable us, in partnership with the government, UNICEF and other NGOs, to more effectively plan our support services to the workforce. This will enable us to improve our targeting of support to vulnerable children and their families in Cambodia,” says John Statham, Senior Social Work Technical Advisor at Family Care First, Save the Children Cambodia. Save the Children, Social Services Cambodia and Family Care First have signed on to the Call to Action in a show of support for workforce strengthening efforts for implementing care reform.

Commitment of key stakeholders, including UNICEF at the global, regional and national levels, to gather details about the structure and needs of this workforce in different countries offers a strong opportunity for sharing promising practices and taking a systematic approach to strengthening the social service workforce.

The Alliance will soon produce a mapping toolkit, to be released in 2019, that will offer step- by-step guidance for carrying out national workforce assessments.

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To date, 31 organizations have joined the Call to Action. Some examples of how these organizations are supporting workforce strengthening:

  • Helping Children Worldwide signed the Call to Action because the ideas outlined in it reflect major goals of the programs they support at the Child Rescue Centre (CRC) in Bo, Sierra Leone. CRC is transitioning child welfare programs from institutional care and orphanage model settings to family-based care within the community. Helping Children Worldwide and the Child Rescue Centre contribute to the knowledge exchange by working closely with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Social Welfare and Gender Affairs as well as with other child-focused NGOs in the region and in the country, by meeting regularly to share knowledge and best practices at a time when all residential children’s programs in Sierra Leone are making the transition to family-based care.
  • Since it was established in 1948, FICE International has worked to create a global network of organizations and individuals with the common goal to improve the quality of child and youth care around the world. FICE organizes conferences and congresses for child and youth care professionals to connect, exchange knowledge, good practices and information, to increase their capacities to discuss and establish best practices for working with children without parental care, refugee youth and unaccompanied minors, education and learning challenges of children and adolescents in care, sexual abuse, aggressive behavior on the Internet, care leavers, and more.
  • The Asia Pacific Forum on Families International (APFAM) realizes the central role of the social service workforce in building stronger families to contribute to the balanced development of children, self-reliance and financial sufficiency. Strengthening of families is a key initiative for children's development and welfare. APFAM is a United Nations recognized organization with 10 member countries within the region.
  • Family Care First is a global initiative that seeks to uncover and advance transformational solutions to reduce the number of children growing up outside of safe, nurturing, family-based care. Cambodia was selected in 2015 to pilot this approach, the partnership of global and community partners from all sectors continues to expand. Social Services Cambodia and Save the Children are a part of this initiative.

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Get Involved in Social Service Workforce Week

Join us this week in advocating for social service workers. Daily emails include a blog, links to resources, organization efforts underway and ways to get involved. We encourage you to share today's email and other resources from the week.

    Day 1, September 24: A Call to Action: Strengthening the Social Service Workforce to Better Protect Children and Achieve the
   
SDGs
    Day 3, September 26: Development of a National Social Service Workforce Strengthening Strategy
    Day 4, September 27: Ending Violence Against Children Requires a Strong Social Service Workforce
    Day 5, September 28: Actions for Realizing a Stronger Social Service Workforce

We encourage you to get involved through the following methods:

  • Join the Twitter chat TODAY from 09:00-10:00 EDT to share the importance of a strong social service workforce for protecting children & achieving the SDGs. Follow and tag @SSWAlliance.
  • Download the Call to Action and share with your network. Available in English and Spanish.
  • Register for the webinar on Thursday, September 27: Ending Violence Against Children Requires a Strong Social Service Workforce, being jointly organized with UNICEF and the Global Partnership to End Violence. In advance of the webinar, review some best practices of integrating the social service workforce within National Plans of Action.
  • Circulate this email and the other daily blogs during to raise awareness and increase the number of supporters for strengthening the social service workforce. Or, invite a colleague to become a member, and they will receive updates directly.
  • Further your support through a donation to the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance. Contributions will be used to support the Alliance’s work toward strengthening the workforce.
  • Download resources from the Alliance library and share resources from your organization.
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A Call to Action: Strengthening the Social Service Workforce to Better Protect Children and Achieve the SDGs

A Call to Action for Strengthening the SSWDay 1, September 24, Social Service Workforce Week

Today marks day one of Social Service Workforce Week. Celebrated annually for the last five years, the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance invites you to get involved throughout the week in advocating for greater funding, policy and programmatic support for the social service workforce. The week’s theme is A Call to Action: Strengthening the Social Service Workforce to Better Protect Children and Achieve the SDGs, and we invite you to join these efforts.

To gain the attention and funding levels needed to ensure a well-trained, well-developed and well-supported workforce, greater advocacy efforts are needed. The Sustainable Development Goals provide an unprecedented opportunity to influence national and international development policy and programs while highlighting the intersections between the work of the social service workforce and those working on health challenges, violence prevention and migration. Through amplifying our collective voice, we can garner greater attention and actions to strengthen the frontline workforce that will be vital to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals,

Blogs, social media posts, case studies, worker profiles and new resources will be shared daily during Social Service Workforce Week to increase attention and prompt planning for realizing the recommendations within the recently launched Call to Action. This advocacy tool makes recommendations at the country and global level for governments to initiate, lead and engage in dialogue with partners for these efforts.

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To date, 31 organizations have signed on to the Call to Action to show their shared commitment for a strong social service workforce that is best positioned to meet the needs of vulnerable children, youth, families and communities. Some examples of how these organizations are supporting workforce strengthening include:

  • HealthProm trains social service professionals working in the health, social care, and education sectors in areas ranging from child protection to inclusive education for children with disabilities. HealthProm strives to strengthen their capacity so that they can drive local change to improve services, reduce stigma, and strengthen relevant policy. In Tajikistan, HealthProm is working with UNICEF and the Tajik Government to advance training and legislature in child protection. In addition to jointly developing the first ever national guidelines on child protection, the organization also provides training for both government and non-government social service professionals.  
  • IntraHealth International has been able to act on the learning from situational analysis and support government system and workforce strengthening efforts at the national level in Botswana. Working with other NGOs and government, action has been taken to form a technical leadership team to assume ownership of national level efforts, complete an assessment of the existing system of enrolling children in social protection/welfare services (such as cash transfers and OVC grants), and determine which gaps to address within structures, systems and procedures. Based on results, the project is planning contributions to the launch of the government's new National Social Protection Framework.
  • To fulfill Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative’s (REPSSI) vision of all girls, boys and youth enjoying psychosocial and mental wellbeing, REPSSI country programs are encouraging government and other partners to establish or reinvigorate national level workforce leadership groups, or national Social Services Workforce task teams, in all 13 countries of East and Southern Africa where REPSSI works. REPSSI is committed to professionalizing the community-level social service workforce and collaborates with national academic institutions to achieve this.
  • Learn more about how UNICEF and the Global Partnership to End Violence are supporting social service workforce strengthening efforts nationally and globally during a webinar on Thursday, September 27. The webinar will feature speakers providing background about Pathfinder Countries and the National Plans of Action, UNICEF’s role in helping countries realize the strategies outlined in the INSPIRE package, advocacy efforts to call for greater attention to the workforce in these efforts, and a country-based example about the integration of workforce strengthening into national plans to address violence against children.

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Join Us for a Week of Advocacy

Throughout the week, we will be highlighting the various ways that NGOs, country governments, UNICEF, and other collaborators are supporting social service workforce strengthening. Blogs during Social Service Workforce Week will include country case studies as examples of how country-level recommendations are being implemented and could be replicated in other countries. The blog on Day 5 will outline steps you and your organization can take toward achievement of the country and global level actions outlined in the Call to Action.

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Get Involved

  • Download the Call to Action and share with your network. Available in English and Spanish.
  • Show your support by adding your organization's logo to the Call to Action. Email the Alliance with your organization's logo.
  • Share stories from your organization by emailing the Alliance about effective advocacy approaches you have implemented, including positive outcomes achieved, and country or global level actions as outlined in the Call to Action that you are involved in.
  • Circulate this blog and the other daily blogs during Social Service Workforce Week to raise awareness and increase the number of supporters for strengthening the social service workforce.
  • Join the Alliance by becoming a member. You will receive a daily email during Social Service Workforce Week and regular updates you can use to actively advocate for the workforce.
  • View the webcast from the Alliance’s 5th Annual Symposium on the launch of the Call to Action and remarks by Together for Girls and the World Bank on the importance of a strong social service workforce.
  • Further your support through a donation to the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance. Contributions will be used to support the Alliance’s work toward strengthening the workforce.
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Ending Human Trafficking - the work of ECPAT International

blog by Dr. Mark Kavenagh, Head of Research and Policy, ECPAT International

Trafficking Quote from ECPAT Executive DirectorSophie was only 13 when she was taken from her home and exploited at the hands of a relative. Barred from attending school and forced to perform household chores, she was left destitute precisely when she needed support and care the most.

Human trafficking for the purposes of forced labour or sexual exploitation is the third largest crime industry in the world, behind drugs and arms trafficking. Almost one third of human trafficking victims in the world are estimated to be children.

Far from being restricted to less developed countries, human trafficking sees no boundaries and affects various groups of people regardless of their gender, age, or ethnicity. All regions are affected, and all countries can be a destination, source and transit point for traffickers.

Commonly understood as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person by such means as threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud or deception for the purpose of exploitation,” human trafficking, is not always well understood. Many social service providers may have encountered clients who have experienced forms of trafficking, though clients may not disclose this to practitioners, and in some cases, may not even self-identify as victims.

Although a large number of detected trafficking victims are women (almost 60 percent based on UNOCD estimates), we now understand that children and men are represented among victims in much higher numbers than previously thought. The latest figures also show that a growing number of cases take place at the domestic or regional level, with research showing that traffickers and their victims often “come from the same place, speak the same language or have the same ethnic background.”

Factors leading to trafficking are wide-ranging and complex and can include poverty; globalization; corruption; weak rule of law, and poor law enforcement. It is important to keep in mind however, that victims and survivors of human trafficking have diverse socio-economic backgrounds; varied levels of education; and may be documented or undocumented. Many are deceived or coerced, initially believing that they have been hired for a real job, or that they are going to get married, before finding themselves trapped and powerless. 

Law enforcement bodies are key in dealing with the identification and protection of victims, but they are far from alone in fighting human trafficking and social services providers are a big part of the solution in support for victims and in moves to eradicate this pervasive crime. The ECPAT International Network, which includes 104 member organisations across 93 countries, plays an active role in the fight against the trafficking of children for sexual purposes: both on the frontline, by providing helplines and direct support to victims; and behind the scenes, by conducting research, advocacy and policy monitoring. A number of ECPAT members act to prevent children from being trafficked and sexually exploited, particularly through early or forced marriages, prostitution, by travellers and tourists and in online child sexual abuse material.

In many ways, the needs for social care of trafficking victims don’t differ substantially from those of other clients seeking care from helping professionals. A range of supports can be provided - from counselling to cope with traumatic experiences, through to supported reintegration back into communities – with attention to the push factors that may have put people at risk in the first place.

In serious cases, particularly involving children, specialist care and support is necessary. Some members, like ECPAT Foundation in the North of Thailand, employ specialist child protection staff with social work backgrounds to educate young people on the risks to consider when migrating for work, relevant laws to protect themselves, and how to access support when they need it. Others, like ECPAT USA, concentrate their efforts on leading public awareness campaigns such as the #doesyourhotelknow campaign, to alert the private sector and ordinary citizens of the role private businesses and particularly the travel and tourism industry can play in safeguarding children from exploitation. Many of our members engage with the private sector and encourage companies to implement a child protection code of conduct. Others are more involved with governments and development partners in drafting and supporting policies that protect children and criminalise offenders.

World Day Against Trafficking logoFrom producing research and leading support groups and shelters, to running campaigns and petitions at the regional and global level, ECPAT International’s work is varied and comprehensive. However, despite making headway in protecting children from trafficking and exploitation, ECPAT International cannot abolish the practise on its own and needs the help of other organisations and individuals to do so.

The international community has already committed to “take effective measures to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking” and to “end abuse, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children” by 2030 via the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To raise public awareness of trafficking, the international community will observe World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30. Now is the time to act and put an end to this crime, collectively and permanently.

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ECPAT International
ECPAT International is a global network of organisations (104 member groups in 93 countries) dedicated to combating the sexual exploitation of children. The ECPAT International Secretariat is based in Bangkok, Thailand, and is the administrative and supporting unit of the network. The Secretariat coordinates and supports a range of network initiatives including research, programming and active campaigning along with the development of tools and provision of technical support to the global ECPAT network.

Dr. Mark Kavenagh, Head of Research and Policy, ECPAT International
Mark Kavenagh joined the ECPAT International Secretariat as Head of Research and Policy in early 2018 where he oversees a range of research projects that focus on ending the sexual exploitation of children. Mark began his career as a registered psychologist and worked in school settings with children and adolescents before moving into international development a decade ago. Since then, Mark has lived and worked in South East Asia and Eastern Europe in child protection programming and research roles. Most recently he worked for ChildFund Australia as their Child Protection Advisor. Mark holds a Doctorate of Educational Psychology from the University of Melbourne.

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Celebrating the Role of Para Professional Workers in Children’s Lives

Mrs. ZodwaBlog by the Family Services Team at Cabrini Ministries Swaziland

In Honour of Universal Children's Day, we celebrate the work of paraprofessional staff who work with orphans and vulnerable children. For the past few decades, the faith-based organization of Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland has been working with most poor and vulnerable children, youth, and families in rural Swaziland, responding to issues related to HIV/AIDS and TB. Over the past five years, the organization’s response has taken into account not just the needs of the immediate community, but the region and the country as a whole as there has been an increasing need to further promote the welfare of children.

Zodwa Gama, a para professional case worker with the family services department of the organization, shares a bit about how she and the organization are helping vulnerable youth. Although her matrimonial home is in the city, Zodwa chooses to return to the area that she grew up in as a child week after week to work with the most poor and vulnerable in Swaziland’s Lubombo Lowveld. The rural lowveld has some of the highest rates of domestic violence, sexual abuse and poverty in the country. 

Zodwa has stated that there tend to be misunderstandings about what a caseworker does, especially in the rural areas, but once her role is explained most people realize that they can get more from the organization than just healthcare services, OVC care and education support. She has worked over 10 years within the organization. Zodwa’s daily tasks as a para professional caseworker include visits to homesteads, conducting family-centered assessments, liaising with community partners and providing psychosocial support. The aspects that she loves about being a case worker is working with people and getting to know them individually.

Two years ago, Zodwa assisted by providing psychosocial support to a 10-year-old girl who had been raped. The perpetrator died before being arrested. She involved the mandated governmental partners in the case. As the case progressed, there were new discoveries of suspected physical abuse involving caregivers of the child. After meetings with the child, family members, and local government partners, the child was placed with her maternal step-relatives. While her situation and case was deemed as a success after months of monitoring the new placement, two years later the same child’s case was reopened after receiving a call from the local police that there was an issue of suspected child trafficking. Zodwa, in disbelief, met with the local authorities, the family and the child survivor as issues were being sorted through. 

The local police took the lead on the case and Zodwa with the support of her team leader attended various family meetings. The child currently participates in individual and group counseling sessions from a professional counselor on the Family Services Team. Discussions are ongoing with the family about the safest long-term home, which is expected to be determined within the next month. 

This is just one brief example of how complex the daily work of the Zodwa and her team members can be and how important it is that she is present and ready to respond to the needs of vulnerable children

Zodwa believes that a person being respectful, being able to assist families with identifying their strengths and needs, not making false promises, and adhering to confidentiality are the most important skills needed by an effective case worker. Zodwa believes that the major result of her work and that of the department and the overall organization, is to bring back hope to children especially those who feel like they have no hope for a brighter future as a result of hardships they have faced.

This small community care organization has continued to respond to local needs by providing comprehensive and integrated services which include healthcare services, education support services, childcare services, family services, and psychosocial support services.

Through grant funding over the recent years, the organization has been able to able to influence policy, participate in national dialogues, and assist with government capacity building regarding issues involving orphan and vulnerable children, child protection and children’s rights issues, cultural competency, and family strengthening service provision. Yet the majority still remains to be on-the-ground which often times can be challenging and even dangerous for psychosocial support field staff. Some of the staff are survivors themselves; in which cultural sensitivity and confidentiality is held in the highest esteem.

The work of Zodwa and Cabrini Ministries Swaziland is just of many, many examples worldwide of social service workers who are committed to helping vulnerable children and families thrive. On Universal Children’s Day, we say thank you to all of these workers for their continued commitment and efforts. The importance of case management and the ways the social service workforce helps families who have been affected by violence will be furthered featured in new materials and tools being released by the Alliance in January and February.

To learn more about the work of Cabrini Ministries Swaziland go to: http://www.cabriniministries.org/