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5th Annual Social Service Workforce Strengthening Symposium

This event was held on May 8, 2018
The recording can be viewed at
Read the written summary of the event
Download the presentations from Panel 1, Panel 2 and Panel 3
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Event Agenda

The Symposium will provide a forum for practitioners, government representatives, scholars and other experts from around the world to discuss efforts to strengthen the social service workforce to address a range of child protection issues related to care reform, violence, HIV/AIDS and migration. This year’s Symposium will feature countries that have formed multi-stakeholder national leadership groups or committees to create and implement comprehensive national workforce strengthening strategies. These groups typically consist of high level representatives from government, multilaterals and bilaterals such as UNICEF and USAID, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), universities, training institutions, civil society, religious organizations and professional associations. Country-based panels of speakers representing these types of stakeholders will provide examples of how they have helped to elevate the discussion about the workforce, brought more visibility to the topic, and designed and implemented strategies to better plan, develop and support the workforce. A Call to Action to spur the development of similar national leadership groups in other countries will be launched at the event.


The objectives of this symposium are to:

  • Facilitate discussion and information sharing of national coordination efforts to strengthen the social service workforce and improve the lives of children and families
  • Encourage stakeholder advocacy to national governments and policymakers through a Call to Action for greater planning, development and support to the social service workforce

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 and families and strengthening social service systems, government social welfare ministry staff, donors with investment in child and family welfare, trainers and social work educators, and representatives from professional associations.

Event Organizer 

The Symposium is being organized by the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, a non-profit network with 1800 members in 121 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. An 11-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 funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the 4Children project through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program. GHR Foundation and UNICEF also support the Alliance. CELCIS and TPOUganda are also sponsors of the event.

Symposium Agenda

9:00 – 9:10    Welcome
Amy Bess, Director, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance

9:10 – 9:25    Keynote 1
Dr. Alma Crumm Golden, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau of Global Health, USAID

9:25 – 9:40    Keynote 2
Kirsten Di Martino, Child Protection Senior Advisor, UNICEF Headquarters New York

9:40 – 10:55    Panel 1:  Uganda Country-level Efforts in Strengthening the Workforce to Protect Children
 Patrick Onyango Mangen, Country Director, TPO Uganda
Description: Strategic and long term partnerships and coordination at national and local government levels and between state and non-state actors are being undertaken in Uganda to support and leverage the strengths and opportunities to address child protection issues. The role of the national association of social workers, civil society and local practitioners will be presented, highlighting their work toward a Social Work Council, competency-based training curricula for para professionals, professional development for social workers, harmonized toolkits for case management and support for community-based child protection mechanisms.


1. Civil Society Collaboration with Government in Addressing VAC in Uganda
Timothy Opobo, Child Protection Manager, ChildFund

2. The Need for Policies to Regulate the Social Service Workforce
Presentation prepared by Dr. Taib Azah, Technical Advisor, National Association of Social Workers Uganda

3. The Role of Government in Building a Multi-Sectoral Response to VAC
Lydia Joyce Najjemba, National Coordinator, Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Uganda

10:55 – 11:15    Coffee Break

11:15 – 12:30    Panel 2: Learning from Different Perspectives: Scotland’s Social Services Workforce Journey
Prof. Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director, CELCIS and the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures, University of Strathclyde
Description: This panel will discuss Scotland’s active Social Work Services Strategic Forum developed to deliver the actions in Social Services in Scotland: a shared vision and strategy 2015 to 2020 and present the role of the Scottish Social Services Council, in helping to professionalize the social service workforce. This strategy has been undertaken in an ever-changing backdrop—of social services and health integration, and economic austerity—which is leading to questions about what will be the future requirements of social service workers. They will also discuss the important issue of the price of generic Cialis. The panel will explore how these efforts grew from a decade-long change program with an increase in qualifications for child care workers to deliver positive outcomes for children and families. In recent years, there has also been an increasing emphasis on methodology to improve social services practice in order to bring about positive outcomes for children and families. This focus on the outcomes as a starting point has contributed to a growing interest in the evidence base for comprehensive workforce strengthening. Progress made and challenges ahead will be discussed.


1. Progress, Opportunities and Challenges: The future social services workforce in the context of Scotland’s health and social care integration
Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser to the Scottish Government

2. Benefits and Complexities: Scotland’s ongoing journey to equip staff working in small group care children's homes with a relationship-based care focus
Dr. Ian Milligan, CELCIS International Advisor

3. Missing Pieces in Workforce Strengthening? Improving children’s outcomes as the key driver in implementing best practices
Prof. Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director, CELCIS and the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures, University of Strathclyde

12:30 – 1:00    Lunch and Learning Exchange

1:45 – 3:00    Panel 3: Social Service Workforce Strengthening in the Context of Preventing and Addressing Violence against Children in the Philippines
Dr. Bernadette Madrid, Executive Director, Child Protection Network Foundation, Philippines
Description: As one of the pathfinder countries of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, the Philippines is drawing on data from the recent VAC study to develop a national plan of action. Implementation of this plan and achieving the ultimate goal of ending all violence against children by 2030 to meet SDG 16.2 requires a strong social service workforce. Panelists will review the Philippine Plan of Action and the goals related to strengthening the workforce, as well as share some of the current work to map the workforce and to better plan, develop and support the workforce toward achieving this goal.


1. Achieving the Philippine Plan of Action to End Violence against Children: The need for a strong social service workforce
Dr. Bernadette Madrid, Executive Director, Child Protection Network Foundation

2. National Action Plan on Strengthening the Workforce
Video to be shown: Undersecretary Mae Fe Ancheta-Templa, Department of Social Welfare and Development

3. Mapping of the Social Service Workforce for Better Planning, Development and Support
Kirsten Di Martino, Senior Adviser, Child Protection, UNICEF Headquarters

3:00 – 4:15    Panel 4: A Call to Action for Strengthening the Social Service Workforce to Better Protect Children and Achieve the SDGs
Moderator: Dr. James McCaffery, Senior Advisor, Training Resources Group, United States
Description: We must work together to improve child protection, health and well-being outcomes for children and families as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals. These outcomes will not be achieved without a strong social service workforce backed by the political, financial, technical and moral support needed for them to make a positive difference in the lives of children and families in our communities. A Call to Action is being released to propose steps for national and local governments to lead this needed change in coordination with national and global partners. This panel will share the Call to Action and the path forward for realizing a stronger social service workforce.


Dr. Daniela Ligiero, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Together for Girls        
Laura B. Rawlings, Lead Social Protection Specialist, World Bank

4:15 – 4:30    Closing    
Dr. Rebecca Davis, PhD, MSW, Associate Professor for Professional Practice and Director of the Center for Global Social Work, School of Social Work, Rutgers University, United States, and Chairperson, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Steering Committee