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Using the INSPIRE Framework to Strengthen the Social Service Workforce in Uganda

Alena Sherman's picture

Submitted by Michael Byamukama Ntanda and John Mary Ssekate from the National Association of Social Workers of Uganda (NASWU)

INSPIRE Framework

INSPIRE is a global framework of seven mutually reinforcing strategies for preventing and responding to violence against children and adolescents. They include implementation and enforcement of laws, norms and values, safe environments, parent and caregiver support, income and economic strengthening, response and support services, and education and life skills.

The 2018 Violence Against Children (VAC) Survey indicates that nearly 35 per cent of children in Uganda have experienced multiple forms of violence. Thus, strengthening the social service workforce for child protection is a top priority of the National Association of Social Workers of Uganda (NASWU). For the past five years, NASWU have implemented the following interventions modeled after the INSPIRE framework to strengthen the workforce:

Training the Trainers

Recognizing that social service workers are the frontline workforce responding to and supporting children affected by violence, NASWU has trained and equipped its executive and management team with knowledge on the INSPIRE framework and its contextual application in social work practice settings. They have also trained senior social workers from various social work agencies on the framework to build the capacity of social work service organizations.

With initial support from the Children’s Rights and Violence Prevention Fund (CRVPF), NASWU has also trained 50 trainers from different social work agencies, academic institutions and government departments. As a result, INSPIRE strategies have been integrated in organizational strategic plans and across different communities in Uganda.  

Continuous Professional Development of Early Career Professionals based on INSPIRE

A group picture of students and staff of Bugema University after INSPIRE training in January 2023

NASWU is working with universities across Uganda to equip social work students and recent graduates on the seven INPIRE strategies. Between 2022 and 2023, a total of 519 students and recent graduates from five universities have benefited from this training. Training university students has been found to be highly beneficial, as they are respected in their communities and have the ability to positively influence their friends, families and communities on methods to protect children from violence

Discussions with early career professionals has provided a unique opportunity for our association to listen and compare different cultural practices, structures and values. For example majority of the youth trained confirmed that Ubuntu values based on the sense of community, love, compassion are foundations for child protection among many African families and communities, while negative cultural practices in many African communities like auctioning of girls among Jonglei state of South Sudan, female genital mutilation among the Sabins in Eastern Uganda, and concealing information by family members where a child has been violated continue to perpetuate violence against children. All the students trained have signed commitment to be community bystanders and ready to report cases of violence in their communities on 116 national toll-free lines.  


Using online platforms, NASWU is integrating INSIPIRE approaches to share messages on protecting children against all forms of violence. Frontline social workers are also supported with tools like the Standardized Case Management Tool and the Uganda National Child Protection Policy 2020, both of which link to the INSPIRE tool. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, NASWU has organized 20 online webinars and two advocacy campaigns focused on child protection and targeting frontline social service workers. A total of 1045 frontline social service workers from social work agencies, government ministries and departments, as well as from the private sector, have participated in online webinars and advocacy campaigns to protect children from violence focusing on different child protection areas like protecting refugee children, children in alternative care, child labor, child trafficking, and child mental health and psychosocial support.


NASWU is also using the INSPIRE tool to mentor social workers in communities who want to start child protection community change projects, organizations focused on child protection, and those with interest in research. Up to 30 social workers from not only Uganda, but also South Sudan and Rwanda have been supported by NASWU over the last two years.


The INSPIRE tool presents a great opportunity for strengthening the social service workforce in Uganda in dealing with all forms of violence against children. NASWU experience using INSPIRE reveals better outcomes when the interventions are done in collaboration with community structures, and with affected children and their families so that the root causes of violence against children can effectively be addressed.