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6th Annual Social Service Workforce Strengthening Symposium: Evidence for Action

Held on May 7, 2019 
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The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance hosted the 6th Annual Social Service Workforce Strengthening Symposium on the topic of using evidence as a catalyst for advocacy efforts to support the social service workforce. Held on May 7, 2019, in Washington, DC, and via live webcast, a total of 313 individuals and 13 watch parties participated from 42 countries across NGOs, practice, government, academia, associations, foundations, UN agencies and other experts in the field. They heard speakers share experiences and lessons learned from recent comprehensive social service workforce mappings and assessments in 32 countries. Representatives provided an overview of the mapping process, trends, recommendations and next steps for using this evidence toward developing workforce strengthening strategies.

Collecting and analyzing data to better understand the social service workforce is fundamental and foundational to creating informed advocacy. Speakers from donor groups, an association and an international NGO shared examples of using evidence and recommendations to advocate for and achieve greater support to better plan, develop and support the workforce. Speakers and breakout work sessions also made connections to global trends and progress toward achieving the recommendations within the Call to Action.

The Symposium included the launch of the State of the Social Service Workforce 2018 Report, which provides a comparative look at social service workforce development in four regions, and a Mapping Toolkit to support groups in workforce mapping. 

The event was made possible through support from GHR Foundation, UNICEF and the Network for Social Work Management. Tides Center acts as fiscal host and sponsor of the Alliance.

Event Organizer 
The Symposium was organized by the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, a non-profit network with more than 2200 members in 136 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. A 13-member Steering Committee oversees and guides the direction and development of the Alliance and provides support to the Alliance Secretariat. 


Symposium Agenda

8:00 – 8:30 a.m. Registration 

8:30 – 8:40         Welcome (Live webcast begins)
Betsy Sherwood, Director, & Nicole Brown, Deputy Director, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance 

8:40 – 8:55         Keynote
Ted Chaiban, Director of Programmes, UNICEF

8:55 – 10:20       Panel 1: Building the Evidence Base to Support Social Service Workforce Development
Description: Panelists will share lessons learned from UNICEF and Alliance-led social service workforce assessments and mapping in various regions.

Moderator: Kirsten Di Martino, Senior Adviser, Child Protection Section, UNICEF, and Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Steering Committee Member


  • Overview of the Mapping Process: Natia Partskhaladze, Senior Technical Advisor, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance
  • Contextualizing the Approach and Involving Key Stakeholders in Europe and Central Asia: Aaron Greenberg, Child Protection Regional Advisor, UNICEF Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, Switzerland (video)
  • Country Perspectives: George Abadjian, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Tunisia; and Sophea Phok, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Cambodia (videos)
  • Key Findings, Trends & Recommendations from Mapping & Assessments: Alex Collins, Lead Author, State of the Social Service Workforce Report 2018, and Technical Program Manager, IntraHealth International

10:20 – 10:45     Networking Break

10:45 – 11:30     Panel 2: Advocating for Resource Allocation: The Role of professional associations, non-governmental organizations, donor groups and other stakeholders
Description: Panelists will provide an overview of how they advocate for the strengthening of the social service workforce within their current roles. Panelists will also provide practical examples of how they have leveraged evidence and an increased knowledge-base to make the case for investing in the workforce.

John Williamson, Senior Technical Advisor, Displaced Children and Orphans Fund, USAID


  • Jane Calder, Senior Child Protection Advisor, Save the Children UK, based in Thailand
  • Ghazal Keshavarzian, Director, Elevate Children Funders Group
  • Zeni Thumbadoo, Deputy Director, National Association of Child Care Workers, South Africa

11:30 – 12:20     Breakout Activity: Developing Key Messages for Stakeholders on the Importance of Supporting the Social Service Workforce

Description: Facilitated group activity aimed at developing 3-5 key messages that highlight the importance of supporting and investing in the social service workforce. Groups will collaborate to craft top line messages for targeted audiences which will then be disseminated by the Alliance using a variety of platforms. Groups will also be able to review existing materials to support advocacy efforts.
**Those participating via webcast will be able to participate by entering comments, statements and key phrases into the YouTube Live chat field to be shared with the groups. 

  • Group I: Messages for UN Agencies, Governments & Donor Groups
    Facilitators: Aniruddha Kulkarni, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Headquarters
    Alexandra Tucci, Senior Communications Officer, Together for Girls
  • Group II: Messages for the Media & General Public
    Facilitators: Sarah Neville, Co-Chair Advocacy Interest Group, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance
    Nicole Brown, Deputy Director, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance
  • Group III: Messages for Members of the Social Service Workforce
    Facilitators: Sarah Johnson, Knowledge and Communications Specialist, Better Care Network
    Susan Rubin, Assistant Director, National Association of Social Workers Foundation (US)

At the conclusion of this session, messages developed by each group will be shared with the whole audience. 

12:20 – 12:30    Closing Remarks
Rebecca Davis, Chairperson, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Steering Committee