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Why Support the Social Service Workforce?

The strength of a social service system is, in many ways, dependent on the strength of its workforce. A well-planned, well-trained, supported workforce is better able to address the needs and enhance the resources of vulnerable populations, including children and families. When strong planning, training, and support processes are in place, social service workers are better able to coordinate with efforts in health, justice, mental health, and education, and, ultimately, to promote well-being and prevent and respond to a variety of risks, including violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect, and family separation.

In a world where too many people are made vulnerable due to poverty, social exclusion, inequality and social injustice, a strong social service workforce is urgently needed. Social service workers create protective environments for healthy development and well-being by tackling poverty, reducing discrimination, promoting social justice and providing needed services to care for and support those who need it most.

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.

To view resources related to the social service workforce, please visit the resource database.