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SSWWeek Day Two Blog: It Takes a Team - An example of integrating systems of care for abused children in the Philippines

By Dr. Bernadette Madrid, Executive Director, Child Protection Unit Network, Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines

Often, the biggest challenge for multidisciplinary teams is how to put together members of the team who belong to different agencies and encourage them to work together as one team under one roof.  It would be so much easier if all the members of the team belonged to just one entity such as a hospital or law enforcement agencies.  However, the needs of abused children and their families go beyond what one agency can provide. There are many different ways to put together these complementary services.  The relationships of the different “pieces” can range from simply constructing a referral system where the different services operate independently from one another to an integrated system where all the “pieces” are under one managing unit.  The latter is the most difficult to achieve and to scale up. 

Government agencies and hospitals are generally rigid structures that operate independently from one another. Asking them to share financial and human resources to form an independent team is attempting the “impossible.”  However, one can never underestimate political will.  A partnership between the Advisory Board Foundation, University of the Philippines, the Department of Health and the Philippine National Police was forged with a memorandum of agreement to form a Child Protection Unit (CPU) at the Philippine General Hospital. Each one provided the pieces: physician, social worker, police, mental health professional and budget. 

The challenge was not only found in creating the partnership structure, but also in putting it into practice.  Key questions had to be addressed. How can the members work together as a team?  How does one build trust among team members?  What are the boundaries between the professions so that each remains distinct even as they function as part of a team?  What kind of training is needed?  When is the case closed?  What are the measures of success?  What is the relationship with other social service workers in the communities?  What is the relationship with shelters?  Who is the case manager?  How long is the follow-up?  Each of these questions took some time to be answered and the answers needed to be revisited several times.  The first five years of the team’s development was about getting it right or as near as it could get.  As the saying goes “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Outcomes that were monitored included, among others: re-abuse rates, physical and mental health and keeping the child in school. 

To learn more about the role of workers engaged in this process, read the following social worker profiles that we are featuring during Social Service Workforce Week:

The next challenge is how to scale up.  Can the whole program be replicated?  What kind of delivery structure can be institutionalized?  Should it be in health? Social welfare? Law enforcement?   The health care delivery system was chosen as the main vehicle since the CPU was started in a hospital.  This needed a change in paradigm, an acceptance that child maltreatment is a public health problem.  The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study done in the Philippines (Ramiro, Madrid, Brown, 2010) was pivotal in showing the link between child maltreatment and health. 

In scaling up the CPU, a laddered approach was taken, as described in the CPN annual report 2012.  The pieces can be put together in steps:  Level 1 is the physician and social worker together; Level 2 is physician, social worker and police or mental health worker and Level 3 is a training center with all the necessary personnel.  There are now 62 CPUs in 35 provinces and 7 cities in the Philippines.  The Department of Health came out with the Administrative order on the establishment of Women and Child Protection Units in government hospitals with the description of the training, the budget source, process for setting up the standards and accreditation.  

With the functions of health and social welfare devolved to local governments, advocating for establishment of CPUs by local governments is an attractive option that can immediately yield a level 2 CPU.  Legislative action at the local level can ensure sustainability independent of the national government.   This is by no means a finished product but this has gone a long way from when the first CPU was a pilot project!

If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at Webinar 12 in the Alliance’s webinar series, entitled:  Strengthening Social Service Systems through Cross-Sectoral Collaboration: Multidisciplinary teams in communities and local health facilities.

Zeni Thumbadoo's picture

SSWWeek Day One: Supporting Families, Building a Better Tomorrow for Children

by Zeni Thumbadoo, Deputy Director, National Association of Child Care Workers, South Africa

The indigenous African philosophy of Ubuntu, expressed in isiZulu as ‘Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu’ means that people are people through other people. Bishop Desmond Tutu said that this is the gift that Africa will give the world. Ubuntu speaks to walking the extra mile for the sake of others. Former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton widely promoted the philosophy of Ubuntu in the well know quotation "it takes a whole village to raise a child". On the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, as we contribute to its motto of "building the smallest democracy at the heart of society," we applaud and acknowledge social service workers across the globe. The social service workforce represents a diverse range of workers working in different contexts; working at different levels - local, national, regional, and international; working as professionals and paraprofessionals; working with different methodologies; and working together to serve the best interests of families. In this ' village,' diverse social service workers are working together to ‘raise’ children, families and communities. Strengthening the resilience of families to cope with their unique challenges in a changing and diverse global world is the role of social service workers. 

In reclaiming our unity in diversity as social service professionals, we strengthen our multi-disciplinary teamwork. All social service workers – social workers, child and youth care workers, youth development workers, community workers and others – come together to put families at the center of integrated service delivery. Together this united yet diverse social service workforce contributes to promoting the inherent strengths of families and their capacity for self-reliance.

We recognize that families are diverse in their forms and functions and that it is this uniqueness, the diversity of individual preferences in their special societal conditions, that allows a society to grow and expand. We celebrate in our work the diverse family forms – the extended family, the nuclear family, the single parent family, the same -sex parents family, the child-headed family – some of these stretching the traditionally known paradigms and creating space for innovative engagement from social service workers.

Social service workers promote the inherent strengths in families through services that are child centered, family focused and community based. In this, we honor the teachings and lessons of the past, the opportunity for innovation and creativity in the present and the vision of an inspiring future. We have learned that families need diverse capacities to support them and respond to their unique needs. They require us as social service workers to grow and innovate as we respond to the changing world in which we all find ourselves. We acknowledge that now is the moment to demonstrate integrated services involving all social service workers in organized and well-coordinated service delivery. We celebrate the opportunities that are open to us in this committed partnership for families.

The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance is committed to promoting a well-planned, well-developed and well-supported social service workforce on this 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family. The global 'village' of social service workers is connected in the spirit of Ubuntu which speaks to caring for others in order to promote interconnectedness and a spirit of belonging.  Ubuntu acknowledges both the rights and the responsibilities of every citizen in promoting individual and societal well-being.

We invite you to read more about the work of this diverse workforce and the ways in which it puts families at the center of its work.   For example, a number of documents on the Alliance resource database highlight the role of community workers.   You can also read about the specific experiences of a number of members of the workforce, such as A Technical Brief on Child and Youth Care Workers in South Africa.   

We are also featuring worker profiles today that shine a spotlight on various tasks and training of different types of workers in southern Africa. They offer personal reflections on what motivates them to do this challenging work. Please take some time to read these worker profiles on our website:

We have also compiled for today a number of social service worker success stories:

And we invite you to review the webinars on Working with Community Members and Workers in the Social Services and Deinstitutionalizing the Alternative Care System for Children: Implications for the social service workforce with learning from Rwanda and Moldova.

We believe that social service workers around the world in all their proud diversity promote the spirit of Ubuntu in their service to children and families. It does take a village to raise a child does take a 'village' of social service workers to protect, support and service families. The smallest democracy in society, the family, is celebrated during this social service worker week, with deep respect and care. 

Amy Bess's picture

Save the Date - Webinar on Using Human Resources Data to Improve Social Services - Experiences from Malawi and Tanzania - March 6


This webinar has already occured. Please visit here for the webinar summary and recording. 

Social Service Workforce Strengthening Webinar Series


Using Human Resources Data to Improve Social Services: 

Experiences from Malawi and Tanzania


Thursday, March 6, 2014 8:30-10:30 a.m. (EST)

Better data can mean better outcomes for children and families.  Having the right number of social service workers with the right skills in the right place helps to ensure better access to services and stronger care and support systems.   Preparing for and implementing human resources information systems (HRIS) is a process which helps to identify and define different cadres of the workforce, as well as track the current number of workers, where they are deployed, what their skill sets and salaries are, and where vacancies exist.  While the field of social service workforce information systems is generally in an emerging state, efforts are underway in Malawi and Tanzania to adapt HRIS for health workers to the social service workforce.  

In this webinar, participants will learn from the experiences of these two countries—Malawi and Tanzania—in adapting iHRIS, an open-source set of software applications, to manage the social service workforce. Originally developed for traditional health care cadres such as doctors, nurses, and midwives, the iHRIS suite can be customized to track any type of worker and assist governments in accessing data for decision making on a routine basis.

Speakers will focus on the process undertaken to modify and launch a human resources information system, as well as how data gathered using this system is helping them make decisions on how best to plan, develop, and support social service workers as they care for vulnerable children and families.

Questions to be addressed during this webinar include:

  • Why is workforce tracking important?
  • How would a country get started with adapting iHRIS for the SSW?
  • How much effort does it take to adapt and launch?
  • How much does it cost and is it worth it?
  • What have the experiences of some countries been in developing this system and what has the data been used for to date?

 Webinar Presenters are:

  • Evelyn Kamote, Principal Social Welfare Officer, Department of Social Welfare, Tanzania
  • Norah Kaaya, M&E Consultant, NIRAS and former M&E Specialist for IntraHealth International’s Tanzania Human Resource Capacity Project’s para social worker program (2011-2013)
  • Hilal S. Mohamed, Senior Systems Administrator, University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
  • Benjamin Kayala, Ministry of Gender, Children, and Community Development, Malawi
  • Dr. Nertha Nyirongo, HRIS Consultant, IntraHealth International, Malawi
  • Bakari Bakari, HRIS Consultant, IntraHealth International
  • Dykki Settle, HR Information Systems Team Lead, CapacityPlus and IntraHealth International



The Social Service Workforce Webinar Series is supported by:

PEPFAR, USAID and CapacityPlus


Anonymous's picture

Registration Now Open for Feb 19 Symposium - The Social Service Workforce and the Practice of Working with Vulnerable Children


The CPC Learning Network and the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance will be co-hosting the following event on February 19, 2014 in New York City. 

For more information, please click here. To register, please contact 


Jim McCaffery's picture

Useful Resources for Conducting Social Service Workforce Gap Analyses

by Jim McCaffery, Senior Advisor, CapacityPlus and Training Resources Group

In a sector with constrained resources, it is imperative to make sound, evidence-based decisions about social service workforce strengthening interventions. In order to do this, good workforce data are needed to help inform those decisions and address questions like the following: in a particular country, who are considered to be part of the social service workforce, what are they called, where are they, how many are there, how are they educated, trained and supported, what services are they providing, and that gaps are there with respect to any of these questions? While the state of data availability can be best be described as ‘emerging’, it is encouraging to note that there has been progress in this area with an increasing number of workforce gap analyses being undertaken over the past three to five years.

While much work in this area remains to be done, the gap analyses already completed have produced at least two useful outcomes. First, it has allowed the beginnings of meta-analyses by examining results in several countries. A good example of this is a chapter that has been produced for an upcoming World Bank publication on the social service workforce as an under recognized cadre of the health workforce, with a special focus on sub-Saharan Africa. This paper includes sections on workforce definitions and functions, stock and distribution, planning and strategy, education and training and career advancement, the state of professional associations and some recommendations about future workforce strengthening intervention areas. While this focuses on sub-Saharan Africa and is based on a limited number of country-level gap analyses, it still provides useful beginning workforce descriptions and trends.

The second outcome of these country-level workforce gap analyses is that there is now available an increasing number of protocols that can be used or adapted or streamlined by practitioners in other countries who are interested in undertaking a similar gap analysis. The following are a few examples:

  • Assessing the Human Resource Capacity for Implementation of the National Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children 
    This is a process description and a tool library that gives “…coordinators, stakeholders, and implementers a process, methodology, and tools…” to carry out a participatory social service HR gap analysis. It is drawn from work done in Namibia and Malawi originally, and has a range of questionnaires, interview guides, meeting agenda descriptions and other tools. One of the strengths of this resource is that it describes well how to make the gap assessment more participatory in nature, which will make the results more accurate, the recommendations more realistic and increase the likelihood of ownership of the report and outcomes.
  • An Assessment of the Public Sector Social Service Workforce in Ethiopia 
    This is the final report of the Ethiopia SSW gap analysis completed in June of 2013. In addition to some overall descriptions of orienting data collectors, sampling, data processing, and ethical considerations, it contains an extensive set of questionnaires, guidance for interviews, FGD protocols, and other tools.
  • Human Resource Assessment and Gap Analysis of the Zambian Social Welfare Workforce
    This document – finalized in November of 2013 – is a complete SSW gap analysis protocol. While the background, context, goal and objectives and literature review are very Zambia specific, I am including it because it provides a good context for the a) overall HR assessment design and analysis, b) steps to be used in the gap analysis and c) the tools and data collection methods. In terms of tool examples, there is an overall information sheet to be used when engaged in data collection, protocols for individual interviews, group interviews, a web based survey to collect quantitative data, and sample consent sheets.
  • Protocol Framework for Social Service Workforce Gap Analysis
    This is a different type of document that is intended to provide a guide for an overall social service workforce gap analysis. As such, it contains key questions broken into four key areas:  Identifying, planning, developing and supporting the workforce. This aligns generally with the Framework for Strengthening the Social Service Workforce and would help practitioners by providing the kinds of questions they should be asking if they choose to look more in depth in particular areas. This document should be viewed as a quasi-library and one can pick and choose questions based on what seems most important or compelling given the country or local context. Then, once the overall guiding questions are chosen, it is likely that there will be tools from some of the other resources included in this blog that practitioners could use or adapt to provide data to address the questions.

I hope these examples are useful, and that leaders and practitioners can find material from one or more of the resources that could be adapted appropriately.  

For more information and resources on social service workforce gap analyses and mapping, please visit the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance resource library.

I would also like to invite you to contribute additional examples of protocols or even a single tool that you might have used or seen applied. You can do so by completing this simple form here once you are signed in as an Alliance member.

This work of mapping the SSW and determining key gaps is critically important, and making these tools widely available should make it easier for people to undertake an analysis as they do not have to start from scratch.

Anonymous's picture

Save the Date - Webinar on Deinstitutionalizing the Alternative Care System for Children - December 5

This webinar is being co-hosted by the Better Care Network and the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance.

Deinstitutionalizing the Alternative Care System for Children:  The implications for the social service workforce with learning from Rwanda and Moldova


Participants of this webinar will have the opportunity to learn from experts in Rwanda and Moldova about their experiences with the deinstitutionalization of alternative care systems for children, or the shift from institutional care to family-based care. Deinstitutionalization is a complex process involving much more than closing institutions and moving children to family settings.  It involves the development of a range of family-based alternative care and the transformation or development of social service systems that embrace a child-centered approach.   This reform occurs within a framework of new laws and regulations, shifts in social norms, reorganization of financial and human resources and the establishment of new regulatory systems.

The effectiveness of this process relies on a well-planned, well-trained and supported workforce.  It can involve task shifting and training workers in institutions to take on new tasks, supporting local authorities and decision makers as they oversee the new system, and developing new cadres of community-based workers to provide critical support to families to ensure children receive quality care.  These workers also provide key supports to families to help to prevent the future institutionalization of children.

Presenters will provide information on the deinstitutionalization process in their respective countries, identify challenges and highlight specific approaches taken to put in place and train local professionals and para professionals to ensure quality support for children and their families. 

Please connect to the webinar using this link on December 5.

Note that the link will not be available until Dec 5.

Speakers will include:

Dr. Stela Grigorash is the Director of Partnerships for EveryChild Moldova supporting the Moldovan government to deinstitutionalize and close large-scale residential institutions, develop a system of child and family preventive and protective services and inclusive education for children with special educational needs. Stela was the national director of 'Capacity Building in Social Policy Reform' (2003-2007), which contributed to the launch of child care reform in the country, the national director of the DFID-funded support to social assistance reform in Moldova (2007–10), and the national coordinator and lead consultant to UNICEF's sub-regional consultation on child care reform.

Ms. Silvia Lupan joined UNICEF Moldova in 1997 and has been working as a UNICEF Child Protection Officer since 2002, coordinating interventions and providing technical assistance to government counterparts in the field of child care reform as part of wider reform in the social protection sector. She has also developed information management systems as a staff member of the data processing center under the Ministry of Education and as a database manager at the Chisinau Municipal Health Association. She graduated from the Moldovan State University in Chisinau with a Masters degree in Applied Mathematics.

Dr. Delia Pop is the Director of Programmes at Hope and Homes for Children.  Born and educated in Romania, Delia is a medical doctor who has committed the last 15 years to working with children in the institutional care system and families at risk of separation.  Delia has led the development of a model of change that has contributed to the transformation of child protection and care systems at national and regional level. Delia has provided direction for teams in 15 countries, across Europe and Africa, refining the deinstitutionalization model and ensuring its successful delivery within local, national and regional contexts.

More about this webinar series can be found here

To join the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, click here

For more information about the Better Care Network, click here

For resources on workforce issues related to deinstitutionalizing alternative care systems for children, click here 

This webinar is supported by PEPFAR/USAID and CapacityPlus.


Anonymous's picture

Save the Date - Webinar on Multi-Sectoral Coordination at the Policy and Planning Level - November 21

Two-Part Series on Strengthening Social Service Systems through Cross-Sectoral Collaboration

Part Two: Multi-sectoral Coordination at the Policy and Planning Level

Thursday, November 21, 2013 9:00 am EST – 10:30 am EST 


This second part of our two-part webinar series on cross-sectoral collaboration will explore ways in which collaboration has led to policy changes, a stronger social service system, and better service delivery for vulnerable families. Making such changes often requires social service leaders to use systems thinking and build relationships within the public, private and non-profit sectors that can facilitate cooperation and action to improve the situation of children and families. To illustrate this concept, speakers will share and discuss experiences of planning across ministries and stakeholder groups to develop and implement standards of care for vulnerable children, as well as cultivate leaders in a variety of sectors with the capacity to drive policy outcomes to improve services for children.  During the webinar, participants will also have the opportunity to discuss system strengthening implications of cross-sectoral collaboration in their countries.


Renald Morris, Program Manager, The Synergos Institute

Renald Morris is a program manager for the Leadership and Innovation Network for Collaboration in the Children’s Sector (LINC) and African Senior Fellows Programme with the Synergos Institute in South Africa. Synergos focuses on addressing global poverty and social injustice through systems change and collaboration. Renald’s area of interest extends to youth, women and children with specific interest in social crime and violence prevention, restorative justice, leadership and partnership development.

Roselyn Were, Senior Improvement Advisor for OVC, URC

Roselyn Were works with URC as a Senior Improvement Advisor for OVC, supporting both government and implementers in Kenya to mainstream improvements at the point of care. Roselyn is a social scientist with 19 years of experience in social development work in Kenya. She has an MA in Sociology from the University of Nairobi and a BA in Anthropology from Moi University.  She has worked as a tutor and an examiner in a national social work training institution in Kenya as well as supported the institution in developing an in-service training certificate curriculum for social workers. She has also been involved in microfinance and women and gender development programs and in the health sector, supporting community care programs for families and individuals affected by HIV/AIDS.


Please use this link to access the webinar any time after 8:30 am EDT on November 21:

You will be asked to complete a short registration form and then copy a link to the webinar.

To calculate what time the webinar will be held in your part of the world, use this link:



Please visit to

learn more about this webinar series and to access the series’ archives.


This webinar series is supported by PEPFAR / USAID and CapacityPlus


Anonymous's picture

Watch the REPSSI Psychosocial Support Forum 29-31 October live from your computer!

Watch the REPSSI Psychosocial Support Forum 29-31 October live from your computer!

On 29-31 October REPSSI, in collaboration with the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), will be hosting a three-day forum on children and psychosocial support (PSS Forum) in Nairobi, Kenya. This event is the only one of its kind in Africa.

You can access the full PSS Forum program here.  A number of the sessions will be moderated online and remote delegates will be able to ask presenters questions in real time. Plenary sessions will also be video recorded and the links will be posted on the REPSSI PSS forum website at a later date.
How to join the webcasts
All information regarding the webcasts will be posted on the REPSSI PSS Forum website: The webcasts are open to all on a first come first serve basis. If you have not used Blackboard Collaborate before, we suggest you go to this website to set yourself up. Go to this link.

View the webcast schedule below or by following this link.  More details about the sessions to be held via webcast:


Session: Humanitarian Emergencies 1

Date: 30 October 2013

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 Kenya Time



Session: Capacity Building for CP Systems Strengthening

Date: 31 October 2013

Time: 11:30 – 12:30 Kenya Time



Get connected on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
REPSSI will be tweeting (@REPSSI) #PSS and #Childprotection and maintaining regularly updated LinkedIn and LinkedIn Forum and Facebook posts and groups.

Anonymous's picture

Save the Date: Two-Part Webinar Series on Strengthening Social Service Systems through Cross-Sectoral Collaboration

Two-Part Webinar Series on Strengthening Social Service Systems through Cross-Sectoral Collaboration


Part One: Multi-disciplinary Teams in Communities and Local Health Facilities

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 8:30 AM EDT - 10:00 AM EDT

(please note that the recording of this webinar is now available here)

To care for vulnerable families, social service workers are often called on to address a variety of needs and rights, such as health care, economic strengthening, psychosocial support, education and advocacy within the judicial system. Providing such care for families usually requires social service workers to engage with workers from multiple disciplines, such as doctors, nurses, community health workers, local government officials, police, judges and teachers. In order to facilitate access to a broad and holistic range of services, the social service workforce plays a key role in the formation, training and coordination of multi-disciplinary teams. As representatives of their respective disciplines, members of the team can act as conduits to needed services, with the result that these teams are better prepared and positioned to provide a full spectrum of care for vulnerable families. During this webinar, we will hear accounts from two colleagues involved in facilitating multi-disciplinary teams in communities and at local health facilities.  They will discuss strategies and challenges of scaling up this team approach model and ways in which coordination can lead to better care and support for vulnerable families.


Lynette Mudekunye, Advisor, REPSSI

Lynette Mudekunye is an advisor on programme issues in REPSSI (the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative), a regional organization working in 13 countries of East and Southern Africa to promote psychosocial wellbeing of vulnerable children and youth within their families and communities.  REPSSI has pioneered the provision of accredited training in psychosocial care, support and protection – including a certificate for community workers and a diploma for teachers, both of which are offered to groups of students through supported distance learning.  

Dr. Bernadette Madrid, Director, Child Protection Unit, Philippine General Hospital and Lecturer, University of the Philippines

Dr. Bernadette J. Madrid is the Executive Director of the Child Protection Network Foundation, Inc., an NGO that supports the training of Child Protection Professionals and the development of Child Protection Units in the Philippines. She is also the Head of the Child Protection Unit of the University of the Philippines Manila - Philippine General Hospital where she is concurrently Associate Clinical Professor in Pediatrics and Acting Head of the Ambulatory Section. She also serves as Professorial Lecturer II at the Philippine Judicial Academy and served on the Executive Council of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect from 2004-2010. 




Part Two:  Multi-sectoral Coordination at the Policy and Planning Level

November 2013,  Date and Time TBA

This companion webinar will explore ways in which multi-sectoral collaboration has led to policy changes, a stronger social service system, and better service delivery for vulnerable families. Speakers will focus on experiences of planning across ministries and stakeholder groups to coordinate workforce deployment and service provision, ultimately improving the effectiveness of care and support to vulnerable populations.  Further details to follow.


Please visit /webinars to learn more about this webinar series and to access the series’ archives.

Zeni Thumbadoo's picture

A Social Service Innovation: Planning, Developing and Supporting the Child and Youth Care Workforce

I am the Deputy Director of the National Association of Child Care Workers in South Africa, and recently led a session on social service innovation at our 19th Biennial Conference. I focused on planning, developing, and supporting the child and youth care workforce. Child and youth care workers constitute a distinct social service profession. They work in the lifespace of children, youth, and their families, wherever they may be, in residential care facilities, families, and communities, and use ordinary daily events to intervene developmentally and therapeutically.

What do we mean by planning?

We need to know the number of social service workers required to meet the welfare needs of our country. South Africa’s Children’s Act defines these workers as social workers, child and youth care workers, community development workers, and youth workers.

But how many of each type of worker do we need? And how are we going to bring them into the workforce in the numbers that are going to enable them to respond effectively to the services that are required in our country? Further, at what level do we need them? For example, how many auxiliary child and youth care workers and professional child and youth care workers do we need?

Another important consideration is where we need them. It is quite surprising sometimes to find that we have social workers who are unemployed and yet we know that social work is a scarce skill. We need more data-driven evidence that guides us to where the workforce needs to be situated. For example, we know that child and youth care workers respond to children’s needs, so we need to look at data that tells us the location of orphaned and vulnerable children. Do we need workers in rural areas, urban areas, in townships? Which provinces need them more than others?

Social service delivery requires all of us. How do we work effectively together? How do we work in multidisciplinary teams? And how do we work in intra-disciplinary teams, meaning different levels of social service workers working together? You may have a professional social worker and an auxiliary child and youth care worker. Or you might have a professional child and youth care worker and a social auxiliary worker. How do they combine themselves effectively in order to provide quality services to children?

Another issue in workforce planning links to the strategies that we use for the recruitment, hiring, and deployment of workers. For example, workforce realignment, task shifting, and task sharing are key. Task shifting means there may be some things that social workers used to do that can be handed over to child and youth care workers. But task sharing means that when there are few of us in a rural area, some of the things that a social worker would normally do in an urban area may have to be shared, otherwise clients will not be effectively serviced. 

After we have planned our workforce, it needs to be developed

When we plan for educating the workforce, we have to make sure training is aligned to education systems and standards. For example, we have to be aligned with what the Health and Welfare Sector Educational Training Authoritysays and also with the regulatory bodies and practices in higher education. Obviously there will be different training for social workers, for child and youth care workers, and for community development workers.

Another consideration in training and developing the workforce is ensuring content and curriculum is relevant to those we are servicing. It is so important to not import international literature on child and youth care or social work and believe that it is completely relevant to a South African context. We need to respect and include our indigenous training, models, and content in training.

We also we need to look at strengthening training methodology and acknowledging the value of technology. How do we utilize eLearning to reach workers in the most rural areas so that they can access education?

Finally, we must make sure there is in-service training in workplaces that builds capacity and leadership and helps people to take theory and translate it into practice.

The third part of the triangle: Supporting the workforce

Generally we find that people who stay in positions do so for more than only money. They don’t leave if they feel connected and satisfied with the place that they work.

We also need to have improved supervision systems. We need to ensure workers are properly supervised so that we can ensure they are providing quality services to the children and families that we service.

Licensing, accreditation, and quality assurance systems are also critical when talking about supporting a workforce. The South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP) regulates the workforce and registers workers at different levels. This is an important responsibility in bringing quality control to the people who service vulnerable families and communities. The SACSSP has posted draft regulations relating to the registration of child and youth care workers for public coment.

For enhanced productivity of workers you need to supply them with the things they need. We know that people need files, stationery, vehicles and offices. If you don’t provide these basic things in the social service sector, workers can’t deliver quality services. Or, we may have a project in rural KwaZulu-Natal and we know that if we set up an office in this area it is inaccessible to most people because they have to walk over a couple of mountains to get to the office. So should we have an office or a mobile office? We need to think creatively about how we are going to provide for staff to enhance productivity.

Another important aspect of supporting the workforce links to the health of the workers. Some of us in the child and youth care field and in the social services field in general have lost some of our most experienced, qualified, and well-functioning workers who have not had their health needs taken care of at the workplace, particularly through HIV/AIDS.

We also need to look at the rights of workers. Trade unions will play a role in providing for the protection of worker rights.

A professional association like the National Association of Child Care Workers plays an important role in supporting workers. All professions need their professional associations to take responsibility for organising the workforce around its profession and creating and maintaining an identity.

It is our responsibility as a child and youth care sector to understand that you plan a workforce, you develop a workforce and you support a workforce. All the elements are important for delivering quality services that children deserve in our country. 

I say this in the context of the recent launch of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance. Their aim is to improve the social service workforce globally—and thus improve lives. The Alliance’s website provides an opportunity to interact, to share resources, to learn about other social service professionals, and to make our presence felt. One element on the website is a Social Service Workforce Strengthening Framework for planning, developing and supporting this workforce.

I am happy to serve as a representative of NACCW on the Steering Committee of the Global Alliance to help advance this important work. We can contribute our knowledge of the expression of child and youth care work rooted in the South Africa context. And by working with others, we can all achieve the effective globalisation of child and youth care work and the strengthening of the social service workforce.