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Grace Kozak's picture

Youth Advocacy Strengthens the Social Service Workforce

Youth present their messages at the NACCW conferenceOn the final day of the National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW) biennial conference in Cape Town, South Africa, the youth delegation took the stage chanting, “We are the answer!” The message was to the child and youth care workers there, as well as the South African government, what issues were important to them. They asked CYC workers to help them address the issues that are most challenging to South African youth, including gang violence to teenage pregnancy to illicit drug use.

On August 12, the United Nations will celebrate International Youth Day through the theme “Youth Civic Engagement.” Frequently, there are few opportunities for youth to engage with their government, but the NACCW offers the youth they serve with a platform to speak about the issues that are most critical in their lives and in society at large.

The Alliance values youth civic engagement as a key component of protecting vulnerable children, youth, and families. The youth at the NACCW conference demonstrated their deep knowledge of what they need to live healthy, safe, and productive lives. The social service workforce must take heed of these messages, joining with youth to achieve sustainable human development.

Learn more about youth civic engagement:

Alliance resources on youth and community advocacy:

Anonymous's picture

Learnings from an International Field Placement

Image of Grace KozakMeet Grace Kozak, Alliance Summer MSW Intern

Grace Kozak is a Master of Social Work student at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, studying community organizing and community social services with a certificate in global social work. She has spent the last three months working with the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance in fulfillment of her internationally-focused internship.

International Internship Placement

During her time with the Alliance, Kozak has participated in a wide spectrum of activities. She was able to attend and participate in the Alliance’s in-person Steering Committee meeting, the second annual Global Social Service Workforce Annual Symposium, and the National Association of Child Care Workers biennial conference in Cape Town, South Africa. While in South Africa, Kozak also visited the Isibindi project, learning first-hand about South Africa’s response to the AIDs crisis in the context of child care.

She has also focused much of her time on developing an evidence matrix for the Alliance’s Building Evidence Interest Group. The interest group was created to build a body of evidence to support workforce strengthening and monitor the impact of workforce strengthening efforts. The matrix is designed to be a systematic literature review to highlight gaps in research of the social service workforce, with these gaps revealing where more analysis is needed to better plan, develop, and support the workforce. This was Kozak’s first experience with a literature review and she found it to be a good challenge, “I was able to learn new skills while working on the matrix,” she said. “I worked with the University of Michigan social work librarian to make a research plan. I learned more about how to conduct comprehensive searches and how to filter through a lot of information to find what is needed.”

Kozak has also found ways to incorporate her other interests into this field placement. “I’m interested in human trafficking and social work, and so I was able to write a short post about these topics for World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.” Kozak is also passionate about social policy and advocacy, and she met with Dina Kastner, senior field organizer for the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) to discuss NASW’s current advocacy efforts.

Interest in Global Social Work

Kozak, who will graduate in December 2015, also has her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Ball State University in Indiana. There, she had the opportunity to undertake three social work internships. The first was with Enslavement Prevention Alliance- West Africa (EPAWA), an anti-trafficking organization where she spent a semester while studying abroad in Accra, Ghana. She cites this experience as the catalyst that got her thinking about her role within global social work.

“When I was at EPAWA, I realized that I wasn’t interested in direct service provision for my career. Global social work was still appealing to me, but I was becoming more interested in community-level work and cross cultural collaboration to help solve social problems.”

Kozak’s interest in global social work brought her to the University of Michigan School of Social Work’s Global Activities Scholar Program, which is an opportunity for students who want to work with communities and organizations in a global context. In addition to globally-focused courses, students complete one international field placement. “I wanted a placement that would give me exposure to global social work in a way that emphasized cross-national and cultural collaboration. The Alliance was a perfect fit for me.”

While Kozak is still interested in global social work, her interest in policy advocacy and political organizing has grown. She hopes one day to merge these two passions.

Future Plans

“I’ll be graduating in December, and having this internship has made me more confident in the direction I want to go with my career. I’m still passionate about the potential social work has to make a global impact, and seeing the way the Alliance helps to facilitate this impact has made me hopeful about the future of global social work.”

Ms. Kozak will be leaving the Alliance on August 10 to return to Michigan for her final semester. After graduation, she hopes to work in community-level organizing in East Lansing, Michigan.

Anonymous's picture

Haiti’s Need for Mental Health Services, Before and After the Quake

By Yanica Faustin

by Yanica Faustin

When people find out that I experienced the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, they are understandably curious.

But when I tell the story, even five years later, my heart rate rises. I get goosebumps. My palms sweat. I feel short of breath, and often tears well up in my eyes.

I was half asleep in the backseat of a car in sweltering Port-au-Prince when we felt the vehicle rock back and forth as if riding a huge wave. Buildings and houses began to fall, creating clouds of dust, and from those clouds people were running, barely escaping as the buildings collapsed.

We grabbed each other and ran, and every way we turned we saw destruction, despair, and death.

We made our way to my family’s home down the middle of a wide street with thousands of other people, quickening our pace as the aftershocks followed, some feeling as powerful as the initial quake. We slept outside on the ground that night as the earth continued to tremble. As each aftershock came and went, people erupted in song and prayer.

As I write this now, the memories—rubble piled high, screams and cries, having to step carefully to avoid the dead bodies lining the street, putting rubbing alcohol under my nose to avoid the smells—flood my mind.

When I first got back I had trouble in social interactions. I felt guilty, alone, and on edge.  I woke up in cold sweats, and could feel the ground shaking even when it wasn’t.

These were all symptoms of the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) I was suffering. With the help of therapy and treatment, many of my symptoms have faded. But I was lucky to have access to mental health care after the earthquake. Most Haitians did not.

What happens to a population’s health and well-being under that type of widespread, long-lasting stress? Especially when there are no trained health or social service workers there to help address the effects?

The earthquake in Haiti killed approximately 200,000 people. More than 300,000 were injured, more than 1 million displaced. Research in 2013 found that 90.5% of survey respondents had at least one relative or close friend who was injured or killed. And 93% saw dead bodies.

The psychological toll has been extraordinary for the people of Haiti, a country that already faced the many stressors of disease and chronic poverty: almost a quarter of the population experienced PTSD in the aftermath, and even more experienced a major depressive disorder. 

Haiti’s health workforce was woefully underprepared to provide the physical care the population needed then, much less the psychosocial and mental health services. Since the quake, there have been some mental health capacity-building projects there. But mental health care is still a neglected need in Haiti—and around the world.

On July 14, the World Health Organization released the 2014 Mental Health Atlas, which provides a comprehensive overview of global mental health. This fourth edition includes data from 171 countries and shows dramatic differences in resources for mental health and access to care among high-, low-, and middle-income countries.

Mental illness affects about 1 in 10 people around the globe, yet only 1% of the global health workforce is dedicated to mental health.

Training for mental health workers is essential if we are to improve the capacity of the health workforce around the globe. And it could have far-reaching effects, as poor mental health is often the root cause of other health conditions, and it can inhibit people from participating in social and economic development.

The World Health Organization outlines three ways to make the mental health workforce a priority:

  • The disparity in financial expenditures per person in global mental health in high-, low-, and middle-income countries must be bridged. Expenditures should be around $50 a day per person (as they are in high-income countries) instead of $2 a day.
  • A greater percentage of the health workforce must be allocated to global mental health. But because there is a global shortage of health workers, the workforce must also increase overall so more health professionals can be trained to enter the field of mental health.
  • Policies, plans, and procedures must be put in place to create resilient health systems that can provide mental health resources before and after emergencies, such as the quake in Haiti.

Despite the fact that noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) have become the leading cause of death across the globe, we have yet to make them a clear global health priority. And our discussions of NCDs often ignore mental health.

We must begin to consider the impact the quake had on mental health in Haiti, and make mental health care a priority there and around the world.

This post originally appeared on VITAL, the blog of IntraHealth International. More information on supporting children and families in emergencies, including mental health services, is available on the Alliance's website.

When people find out that I experienced the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, they are understandably curious.

But when I tell the story, even five years later, my heart rate rises. I get goosebumps. My palms sweat. I feel short of breath, and often tears well up in my eyes.

- See more at:

Nicole Brown's picture

Courage to Change Child & Youth Lives

 “CYCWs play soccer with children at the Safe ParkMy dream has always been to work with children,” said Siphiwe Sikhasa, between playing at the soccer field at the Safe Park in Grabouw, South Africa. Just 45 minutes outside of cosmopolitan Cape Town, the small town with dirt roads looks like a world away.

Sikhasa is a coordinator of the Safe Park, a space where children of all ages can safely play, receive homework help, discuss issues burdening young minds, learn valuable skills and oftentimes receive a hot meal. His passion for helping children is apparent as he runs the field and freely gives hugs and high fives. On this particular overcast, drizzling June winter day, there are approximately 20 children playing soccer and 110 children at the Safe Park. Most days there are nearly 200 children.

The Safe Parks are a component of the 309 Isibindi programs established in 161 communities throughout South Africa by the National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW). Meaning “courage” in IsiZulu, Isibindi is serving more than 200,000 vulnerable children nationwide, including those who are living in grandparent-headed households; child-headed households; have a disability, HIV/AIDS or other disease; are caring for ailing family members; are victims of abuse; face struggles at school or home; or are affected by a number of other factors that could lead to unsafe situations.

In addition to working at the Safe Park, Sikhasa and other trained and supervised Child and Youth Care Workers (CYCWs) continue to help families in their immediate communities by going door-to-door to assess needs and offer support to those who need it. Each worker aids up to 48 children, monitoring a child’s progress, acting as their confidant and providing support in various areas as needed in a child’s life. CYCWs build relationships with children through interaction in typical daily routines- cooking together, reading, household chores and life skills.

Granny Nghonyama opens the door to the CYCWThe Nghonyama* family is one of the thousands visited an average of 3-5 times a week by a CYCW. Since 2011, Edwina is the CYCW who has been working with the family’s five children, currently ages 5-17, and the grandmother caring for the children. Three of the children lost both parents to AIDS, one child was abused by his step-father and one was abandoned by her parents. In all cases, Granny Nghonyama stepped in. Some are her biological grandchildren, some she calls her grandchildren. “It doesn’t matter whose child it is, I just have a deep love for children.” Budgeting, homework and overcoming the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS haven’t been easy for this blended family, but have been made easier with the help of Edwina. She has helped to link the family with additional services, including a social worker and government subsidies.

Isibindi is in the second year of a five-year scale up and is being funded by PEPFAR through USAID. With a goal of training 10,000 CYCWs, to date 4,402 CYCWs have been trained.

The Isibindi model has helped formalize child and youth care work as a profession. The program trains unemployed people selected by their communities in a child and youth care accredited training program. Two universities in South Africa now offer a CYCW degree and more than 6,000 workers have been formally registered with the South African Council for Social Service Professions under a new statutory regulation championed by the NACCW.

The Para Professional Interest Group of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance has drawn from the expertise of NACCW and many others to develop a competency framework for para professionals that includes a section on functions and competencies specific to auxiliary child and youth care workers. The framework is being tested and a first edition will be released later this year. The competencies build upon the Alliance’s global efforts to help plan, develop and support all levels of workers who make up the social service workforce.

In South Africa, the program has been embraced by the government as a best-practice model. Several other countries have recently expressed interest in developing new cadres of CYCWs and are receiving support from NACCW to do so. Ministers from the county government of Kisumu, one of 47 county governments in Kenya, recently visited the Grabouw Safe Park and met families benefiting from the support of CYCWs. “We have engaged the South African network to advise us and help us launch the Safe Park model. I want to…learn how to implement this program,” said Jennipher Atieno Kere, Executive Member for Education, Youth, Culture, Gender and Sports. The Safe Park model is also being replicated within South Africa by more than 20 other organizations and in Zambia.

“While the NACCW developed this program, we’re happy to share it with the world. These child and youth care workers are impacting one life, one family and one community at time, leading to real change here in South Africa, and eventually around the world,” said Zenuella Thumbadoo, Deputy Director, NACCW.

As Sikhasa continues to develop his skills as a CYCW, he prides himself on being a positive male role model to the young lives he influences. “I have younger siblings who have always looked up to me, and I want to continue to be a model for them, and all kids.”

(*names changed to protect the identity of the family)

Colin Liebtag's picture

Social Work Day at the United Nations - Advocating for the Dignity and Worth of All People

Social Work Day at the UN meeting roomFrom the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 to the most recent annual gathering of social workers on March 23, 2015, the United Nations has brought people together along the premise of a fundamentally unifying principle: we’re all connected, and we all matter.

At Social Work Day, this point was poignantly articulated by Ramu Damodaran, Deputy Director for Partnership and Public Engagement in the United Nations Department of Public Information’s Outreach Division and chief of the UN’s Academic Impact Initiatives. Mr. Damodaran shared a vision that demonstrates the innate linkages we all share as he articulated the following cyclical concept: an individual has a duty to her/his family; families have a duty to their communities; communities have a duty to their nations; nations have a duty the world; and the world has a duty to each individual.

One may call this karma, another may call it the “golden rule”, Bob Marley might cry “one love!”, and yet another may simply call it logical. However, many social workers may unassumingly just call this their profession. Whether through work on micro, mezzo, or macro levels of intervention, social workers advocates for dignity and worth that some individuals and communities do not even know they have…perhaps, that’s the greatest manifestation of where core social work values really begin.

Yet, truly we must tap into knowing our own worth to put this into genuine practice…thinking, feeling, and acting with dignity as it relates to ourselves. When we know dignity and feel dignity just like we know our reflection in the mirror then we can act it out in our relationships with others. We see ourselves reflected in the smile that an encouraging word brings to someone else, because then we know it’s more than just a smile—we recognize it as a validation as we identify with the other along the most basic of human lines—a confirmation of self worth, a heart-warming reminder that we all matter.

The 32nd annual event at the United Nations in New York City was organized and supported by the International Federation of Social Workers, Council on Social Work Education, International Council on Social Welfare, the U.S. National Association of Social Workers and the International Association of Schools of Social Work. More than 500 social workers, educators, students and United Nations officials attended. The event capped a week of events in celebration of World Social Work Day.


This blog was prepared by Colin Liebtag, MSW Student, Rutgers University and Intern, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance.

Nicole Brown's picture

Celebrating World Social Work Day

“The social service workforce plays a critical role in our [UNAIDS] mission of zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero AIDS-related stigma and discrimination,” said David Chipanta, Senior Advisor Social Protection, UNAIDS, during his opening remarks of the “World Social Work Day Webinar: Celebrating Success in Social Service Workforce Strengthening.

The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance hosted the webinar with PEPFAR, USAID and UNAIDs, and it’s the 19th webinar in a series in collaboration with IntraHealth International and the 4Children Project. Presenters from USAID Ethiopia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe shared key factors and best practices from their experiences of strengthening the social service workforce and improving outcomes of HIV-affected children and families. The three presenters shared their approaches for increasing training, building collaboration with the government and other organizations, and improving HIV treatment access and adherence through development of the social service workforce. Participants of the webinar were from a range of organizations around the world. A recording and summary of the webinar is available on the Alliance’s website.

The webinar was one of many activities taking place globally in celebration of the 2015 World Social Work Day on March 17. Participants from around the world attended conferences, joined webinars, shared messages via social media and held advocacy events with local governments. The day was an occasion to share the 2015 theme: ‘Promoting the Dignity and Worth of Peoples,’ which relates to the second pillar of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development. The theme focuses on the joint work of The International Federation of Social Workers, The International Association of Schools of Social Work and The International Council on Social Welfare.

In Geneva, UNAIDS hosted a conference to join UNAIDS with social work organizations in an effort to achieve the goal zero AIDS by 2030. “Ending AIDS, Promoting Dignity and Respect for All” celebrated the achievements thus far and further explored methods for collaborating on inclusion of vulnerable, marginalized and excluded populations.

“People living with HIV and people most affected by HIV have multiple and often intractable needs that no one sector can provide effectively. The social work profession and social protection programmes connect people to services and make services work for people,” said Mariângela Simão, Director, Rights, Gender, Prevention and Community Mobilization, UNAIDS.

More than 110 attendees gathered in Geneva and participated via the live webcast. A summary of the event is available on UNAIDs website. PEPFAR has also launched a webpage about the social service workforce.

In Washington, D.C., students, academia, organizations and social workers came together for an event titled "Engaging Congress in the Pursuit of Social Justice." Sponsored by the National Association of Social Work (U.S.) and the U.S. Social Work Congressional Caucus and the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy, the event was held to advocate to the U.S. government in support of a current proposed law in support of social workers.

In Bujumbura, Burundi, students from across the country gathered for a conference hosted by the Social Work and Community Department of Hope Africa University.

Additional news from the 2015 World Social Work Day can be found at #socialworkday.

Anonymous's picture

Roundtable Discussion on Faculty Recruitment and Retention on September 23

Roundtable Discussion on Faculty Recruitment and Retention

Social Service Workforce Strengthening Webinar Series

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

8:30 AM – 10:00 AM (Washington), 2:30 – 4:00 PM (South Africa), 7:30 – 9:00 PM (Indonesia) 

The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, in partnership with the Monmouth University School of Social Work and through funding from the US-based National Association of Deans and Directors, has conducted a review of challenges and promising practices associated with social work faculty recruitment and retention. Engaging and retaining high quality faculty is a key workforce topic that spans schools of social work across the globe.  This will be an informal discussion held with social work deans, directors and faculty from multiple countries. We anticipate a lively conversation rather than long presentations and we invite you to listen in and participate by offering your questions, ideas and opinions. 

Discussants include:

  • Mr. Charles Kalinganire, Lecturer, Social Work, Department of Social Sciences, School of Social, Political and Administrative Sciences, University of Rwanda
  • Dr. Abu Mvungi, Rector, Institute of Social Work, Tanzania
  • Dr. Kanya Eka Santi, Head of Bandung College of Social Welfare, West Java, Indonesia
  • Dr. Vishanthie Sewpaul, Professor, School of Applied Human Sciences, University of KwaZulu Natal; President, Association of Schools of Social Work in Africa; Vice-President, IASSW
  • Dr. Karen Sowers, Dean and Professor, College of Social Work, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The discussion will be moderated by:

  • Dr. Robin Mama, Dean, School of Social Work, Monmouth University
  • Dr. Jim McCaffery, CapacityPlus, TRG, and Chairperson of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Steering Committee

Please use this link to access the webinar any time after 8:15am EDT on Sept 23:

Please note that after completing the short registration form, you will need to click on or copy a link from the page and paste it in your browser window to access the webinar.

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

To learn more about this webinar series and to access the series’ archives, please visit:

This webinar series is supported by:

Amy Bess's picture

Social Service Workers Address Ebola’s Widespread Social Impacts

By Amy Bess, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, and Alex Collins, IntraHealth International

Social Impacts of Ebola on West Africa becoming more evident

Social Workers in Sierra Leone help in the fight against EbolaThe number of confirmed cases of Ebola is quickly climbing past 6,200. On September 20, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the historic U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), underscoring how a comprehensive, multisectoral response will be ever more critical as Ebola’s far-reaching health, security, political, economic, and social impacts on West Africa become more evident.

For every person infected, many others are affected—family members lose loved ones, children lose their parents, students lose teachers, employers lose key staff and scores of responders have witnessed extreme suffering and work in exceedingly stressful environments.

Who is addressing the social impacts of Ebola?

Fortunately, skilled social service workers are helping prevent the spread of the disease and addressing its wide-ranging social impacts.

Social service workers are those who contribute to the care, support, promotion of rights, and empowerment of vulnerable populations. All functional levels of this workforce have vital roles to play in West Africa’s Ebola response, including:

  •  Those who provide direct care and services to children and families, such as social workers, para-social workers, community caregivers, child and youth care workers, and child protection committee members
  • Those who mobilize communities, organizations, or groups, and facilitate connections between government systems of care and community-based systems of care, such as community development officers, child protection officers, and district social welfare workers
  • Those who engage at a more macro level, setting policies, standards, and guidelines and carrying out research and evaluation. This includes positions such as directors of children’s affairs, ministers of social welfare, professional association leaders and university staff.

Importance of the social service workforce in awareness raising and child protection

Social service workers are trained community mobilizers and trusted community members. They help to build awareness and combat myths about Ebola in an intense environment of fear and stigma. They recognize that stigma further isolates people and blocks access to care and support, which in turn contributes to the continued spread of the disease.

For example, social workers from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and nongovernmental organization staff in Liberia have been trained by the International Committee of the Red Crossand are carrying out awareness-raising and sensitization campaigns in communities, marketplaces, and homes. Others are organizing educational dramas, carrying out home visits, and staffing hotlines with responders trained in psychosocial support.

In Sierra Leone, Social Workers Sierra Leone is working among homeless youth in Freetown, a population not included in the government’s home-to-home Ebola education campaign during the country’s three-day lockdown. They also visited other marginalized communities that would otherwise not receive basic care and information.

And in neighboring Guinea, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is working with the Red Cross Society of Guinea, the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization, and Medecins Sans Frontiers to manage the epidemic, raise community awareness, and provide psychosocial support to affected families.

Social service workers also help to ensure that children made vulnerable by Ebola are protected from further harm. According to UNICEF, when parents die of Ebola, their children are sometimes found roaming the streets without parental care, proper shelter, health care, or nutrition. This can be a result of stigma and rejection, as the children are seen in their communities as sources of infection. Typical systems of care are interrupted and those who would typically take children in refuse to care for them due to fear of contamination.

Social service workers are part of a rapid child protection response including identification of and care for separated and unaccompanied children, family tracing and reunification. UNICEF is also supporting alternative forms of care such as safe or half-way homes staffed by social service workers. Community mobilization and sensitization campaigns also serve an important role in preventing family separation.

Social service workers charged with addressing mental health and psychosocial support

Ebola brings with it not only physical suffering for those infected, but also feelings of panic, shock, loss, grief, shame, suspicion, and anger to both victims and survivors. Increased challenges and stressors faced during such an emergency--such as food insecurity, loss of family income, interruptions in schooling and access to health care—make matters worse.

Mental health and psychosocial support have long been key components of coordinated emergency response. For example, the Inter Agency Standing Committee Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Emergency Settings, were developed in 2007 to establish a set of minimum multisectoral responses to protect, support, and improve mental health and psychosocial wellbeing in the midst of emergencies.

To assist social service workers responding to the Ebola crisis, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ briefing note on Psychosocial support during an outbreak of Ebola virus disease provides targeted information on psychosocial issues related to Ebola, key messages, and recommendations for providing psychosocial support. And the World Health Organization has adapted a handbook on psychosocial first aid to focus on the Ebola crisis.

In Liberia, UNICEF is sending mental health specialists to Ebola treatment units and holding centers to provide psychosocial support to patients and their families.

Specially trained social service workers help Ebola responders—including health workers, body removal teams, volunteers, and government and NGO staff—manage stress, self-care, grief, and loss.

The unsung heroes of the Ebola epidemic

Social service workers are some of the unsung heroes of the Ebola epidemic. They work around the clock to help prevent the spread of the disease and address its widespread social consequences. As more and more countries commit the support of their trained health professionals to treat an increasing number of patients, so too must we recognize the importance of social service workers and the many roles they are playing—from raising community awareness to providing social support to patients and survivors—in the midst of this epidemic.

Anonymous's picture

Join us for a webinar on July 30: The Role of Local Government Staff in Coordinating and Overseeing Social Services

 WEBINAR: The Role of Local Government Staff in Coordinating and Overseeing Social Services


Wednesday, July 30, 2014 8:30am – 10:00am, Washington DC

2:30pm Harare, 3:30pm Kampala

This webinar will explore the role of government workers, particularly those at the district or sub-national levels, who play a key role in supporting community systems to enhance the delivery of quality services and support to vulnerable children and families. Speakers will address the way in which the social service system as a whole can be strengthened by reinforcing the technical and leadership skills of local government staff to coordinate, lead, monitor and evaluate services and support in their region. Experiences from the Bantwana Initiative in Zimbabwe and the SUNRISE-OVC Project in Uganda will be used to illustrate the key involvement of government staff in these countries. Speakers will also address the results and impact of having strong staff at the sub-national level. They will discuss inputs that have led to increased coordination with community structures, better workforce planning and skills development, strengthened referral systems and case management systems, stronger monitoring and evaluation systems, improved annual planning and budgeting for social services, and ultimately, stronger services for children and families.  During the webinar, participants will also have the opportunity to discuss the implications of this type of work in their countries.


Ms. Patience Ndlovu, Zimbabwe Country Director, World Education/Bantwana Initiative  

With a Master’s in Policy Studies, Ms. Ndlovu has worked for over 17 years in development and emergency relief efforts largely focused on assisting vulnerable children and addressing women’s protection and rights issues. She is currently the Country Director for WEI/Bantwana in Zimbabwe providing technical and management oversight and leadership for 3 large national programs - the Vana Bantwana project offering comprehensive support for vulnerable children and their families affected by the HIV epidemic funded through USAID; an innovative systems strengthening program with the Department of Social Welfare that has developed a national case management program supported by UNICEF and USAID; and the Second Chance Learning program for children who have dropped out of school supported by UNICEF and OSISA.  Before joining Bantwana, Ms. Ndlovu managed the OVC program for Capernaum Trust Zimbabwe, specifically marshaling efforts in policy formulation and model designs. Previously under World Vision International Zimbabwe, Ms. Ndlovu provided technical support to the National Director in strategic planning, policy development, negotiations, proposal writing, reporting, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all country programs. She was also instrumental in the design of the USAID/WFP-funded Food Aid Program.

Ms. Grace Mayanja, Chief of Party, Uganda SUNRISE-OVC Project

Grace Mayanja  has 20 years of leadership and management experience at grassroots, national, regional and international communities. She is one of Uganda’s top social development specialists with expertise in social policy development and implementation, human and economic development, gender analysis and planning, development management, child development and rights. She holds a First Class Division Honors of the Master of Science Degree in International Development Studies, University College Dublin, Ireland. She also studied Master of Arts in Gender and Development Studies, and also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management. Grace has been instrumental in leading and working with teams that have developed various child development and related frameworks for Uganda and other African countries. She was the civil society lead person on the National Steering Committee that spearheaded the first National OVC policy and Strategic plan development for Uganda as well as other OVC related guidelines, standards, systems, technical tools and strategies. She is currently International HIV/AIDS Alliance'sChief of Party for USAID SUNRISE-OVC project in strengthening Uganda’s local government responses for OVC in 80 districts.  Previously, Ms. Mayanja was Chief of Party for the USAID CORE project in supporting and building capacity of Uganda Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to lead and coordinate the national OVC response. Her other experience includes working with World Vision as technical advisor for OVC and HIV/AIDS Models of Learning global Hope Initiative Program.

Please use this link to access the webinar any time after 8:15am EDT on July 30:

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:


Anonymous's picture

Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Symposium: Experts discuss how to strengthen workforce

This article appeared in the June 2014 edition of the NASW News:

Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Symposium: Experts discuss how to strengthen workforce

By Rena Malai, News staff

The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance held a symposium in April that brought together experts to discuss the importance of strengthening the social service workforce worldwide.

The NASW Foundation was one of the co-hosts of the event, called “Supporting Families, Building a Better Tomorrow for Children: The Role of the Social Service Workforce.” NASW is also part of the alliance’s steering committee.

“The symposium brought forth many important issues, including the importance of building a stronger social service workforce to support the needs of children and families around the world,” said Susan Rubin, assistant director for the NASW Foundation.

Three panels presented at the symposium, with each addressing a different area on how to build a stronger social service workforce. The first panel — “How Social Service Workers Support Families to Promote Healthy Development and Well-Being of Children” — included NASW member Nathan Linsk, professor of social work in family medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago and founder of the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center.

Linsk spoke about developing training and a workforce for paraprofessionals in other countries who serve vulnerable families and children. The term stands for those who are not necessarily trained social workers, but who carry out social services.

“Coordination is key,” Linsk said. “With Global Alliance as a resource for idea sharing and networking, advocating can happen to use paraprofessionals in suitable roles.”

Amy Bess, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance coordinator, said social workers comprise a key component of the social service workforce, and they are often called on to coordinate and collaborate with other disciplines in order to provide comprehensive social services. She said the symposium was an opportunity to highlight the importance of the social service workforce, which plays a critical role in promoting healthy social service systems and improving the lives of vulnerable children and families.

“The symposium, as well as the work of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance in general, offered an opportunity to bring people together to identify effective workforce strategies at the micro, mezzo and macro levels,” Bess said.  “At the end of the day, this will mean stronger support and services to children and families who need it most.”

The symposium had more than 100 attendees, and was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The NASW Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) provided funding for the event.

The mission of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance is to promote the knowledge of evidence, resources and tools, and political will and action needed to address key social service workforce challenges, especially within low- to middle-income countries. USAID partner CapacityPlus also helped implement the symposium.

The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance hosts a Social Service Workforce Webinar Series. The webinars are free, and NASW members are encouraged to attend, said Susan Rubin, assistant director for the NASW Foundation.

“I encourage anyone who is interested in getting involved in this kind of work to become a member of the Global Alliance network as it provides a great connection to an international network and shared information,” she said. “There is no cost to join. The Global Alliance sends out notices to its members and provides them access to a wealth of information.”

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