by Carolyn Housman, CEO of Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB)
Children are on the move all over the world. The social service workforce can play a key role in meeting child protection, emotional needs, child rights, and family supports. In doing so, the workforce can support achieving the best outcome for children moving across borders.
Spotlight on Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB), the UK branch of International Social Service (ISS)
CFAB supports children on the move between other countries and the UK, where they are seeking to settle with extended family members. Our international social work team offers free advice and ensures all options for a child’s long-term care are thoroughly assessed, that their views are listened to, and that they get the right long-term support.
In 2019, CFAB launched a new, free support service specifically for unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors joining family in the UK. This is in response to evidence of high rates of family breakdown within two years of reunification, due the traumatic journeys these unaccompanied children have taken and the lack of support available to family carers. The project provides advice, practical and emotional guidance, and assistance for families in this situation, supporting them to remain together where this is beneficial, understand their rights, and achieve their full potential.
CFAB is currently running a campaign to ensure more statutory support is provided to children being placed with family members overseas. For more information, click here.
Children on the Move and Immigration in the United Kingdom
Children on the move is a generic term that encompasses children who have been trafficked, who migrate, who are displaced by conflict and natural disasters, and who live and work on the streets.
With an estimated 50 million children on the move worldwide, migration is seen as a key challenge within the European Union (EU). Of particular concern is the increase in the number of child refugees in the last 10 years. In some cases, EU countries have seen more than a 200% increase in irregular borders crossings and more than a 1000% increase in asylum applications. In Britain, concern over immigration in general played a major role in the vote to leave the European Union. In August 2019, the UK said it would no longer accept asylum-seeking children with family in the UK due to the UK’s exit from the EU.
The UK’s current immigration policy makes it difficult for people to access services, including healthcare, education, housing, work, bank accounts, or benefits. Prejudice against migrant or refugee families, as well as a lack of knowledge around entitlement to services, can mean that families are not seeking or getting statutory support when they may need it. It is also likely to disproportionality affect BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) families.
CFAB’s offers support based on the needs of the child or young person. This includes:
- the development of an individual support plan,
- referrals into relevant local services,
- advice and signposting regarding financial support & other entitlements in the UK
- support in navigating emotional and practical issues arising from changing family dynamics,
- support for carers with parenting skills, respite care, peer support groups and family group conferencing.
What social service professionals and paraprofessionals can do
Children on the Move is not a European topic. Children are on the move all around the world. Below are some top tips for any social service professional to ensure child protection is at the centre of practice and to achieve the best outcome for children moving across borders. These are based on the recommendations of the Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts.
- The best interest of the child should be the primary consideration in all actions and decisions. This should include the participation of qualified guardians and advisors for unaccompanied or separated refugee and migrant children.
- Promote and facilitate the social inclusion of refugee and migrant children, in particular concerning their access to legal identity, nationality, education, health care, justice and language training.
- Child protection services should be made available for all at-risk refugee and migrant children, including those who are unaccompanied and separated, from the time of their arrival.
- Support family unity or reunification, when this is in the child’s best interests. Cross-border coordination between national child protection services is needed to provide a continuum of protection.
- Migrant children should access a range of services, including those related to health and education, adequate accommodation, social protection and psychosocial needs.
- Ensure children are not held in immigration detention and promote the right of children to remain with their families and/or guardians in non-custodial, community-based contexts while their immigration status is being resolved.
- If they are of an appropriate age or ability, children should participate in any decisions affecting them. Sustainable solutions should include residence and integration, and any returns must be both assisted and voluntary.
CFAB also recommends practitioners read the International Social Service practical guide, Children on the Move: from protection to a quality sustainable solution.
CFAB is the UK member of the International Social Service (ISS) – a network of social workers, lawyers and other child protection professionals and partners in over 120 countries.
Formed 90 years ago and headquartered in Geneva, ISS is the only international network focussed on inter-country social work.
The ISS network gives us unrivalled access to expert, on-the-ground support which allows us to assess whether a child’s return to their home country is realistic and in their best interests. This is more appropriate and cost-effective than sending social workers from the UK to make family assessments overseas. For more information, visit: www.cfab.org.uk
by International Social Service-USA
Of the close to 260 million migrants around the world, an estimated 50 million are children who have left home as a result of poverty, war and other life-threatening circumstances .[i],[ii] In the United States, there is increased attention over the past few years, to the hundreds of thousands of Central American migrants seeking safety at the US-Mexico border, including tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors.[iii] The conversation about the future for these children has largely been taking place in the context of legal aid, with millions of dollars invested in the legal defense of unaccompanied and separated children. Meanwhile, there has been little attention to or investment in, their social service needs. While many children seek relief through the backlogged US asylum system, few petitions are granted. The vast majority remain in the US with limited access to services and vulnerable to deportation. However, others seek voluntary return to a home country. It is for these children in particular that a robust global social service workforce is crucial to ensuring long term safety.
Children on the Move include migrant, refugee, trafficked or other asylum-seeking children who leave home with family or on their own to seek a better life. Most are fleeing danger, including natural disasters, war, armed conflict or other violence.[iv] Children on the move present unique challenges to the coordination of social services as they cross state and international borders and engage with multiple judicial and protection systems that often lack coordination. It is at the nexus of legal, judicial and protection systems that social service workforce has a vital role to play, particularly social service case management.
Social workers and case managers identify, engage, and coordinate services for children. This includes legal aid groups, psychosocial resources, medical and educational systems and other supports that help children return to, and remain safe, in their communities. When working with children on the move, the missing piece is cross-border case management that includes pre-departure planning, the development of a repatriation and reintegration service plan, and on-going case management upon return.
International Social Service-USA (ISS-USA), is the US branch of an international network of social service providers present in 130 countries. ISS-USA has been providing cross border case management and permanency planning services for migrating children and families for more than 90 years. The extensive knowledge gained by International Social Service (ISS) network partners working with migrating children and families over the years has allowed the network to author/co-author several key guidelines to best practices, most recently, Children on the Move: From Protection Towards a Quality Sustainable Solution, A Practical Guide. In addition to presenting policy and advocacy recommendations, the Guidelines provide action steps for social service professionals, regardless of their country context, to work with children on the move and ensure long term solutions in the best interest of the child.
ISS-USA’s current Family Reunification and Reintegration program in Guatemala is an example of how the Guidelines can be put into practice. ISS-USA case managers coordinate with US-based providers working with unaccompanied and separated children, as well as with the ISS partner social workers in Guatemala. The local Guatemalan social worker conducts assessments and resource mapping, working with the family prior to the child’s return to develop a service plan and engage local resources to stabilize the child’s reintegration. Once the child arrives in Guatemala, the social worker accompanies the family for six months, helping them access a variety of services including housing and nutritional support, medical and mental health services, educational and vocational programs and other social service supports based on the family’s needs and wishes.
Preparing for the possibility of a child’s return to his or her country of origin is not equivalent to advocating for a child’s forced removal or aiding in enforcement policies. Rather, engaging a network of social service professionals across borders and disciplines ensures that decisions made for each individual child are factually-informed, abide by international law, and are based in internationally-recognized best practices in child protection.
To learn more about best practices related to Children on the Move, check out ISS-USA’s October conference Beyond Separation: Protecting Cross Border Families).
by Colleen Fitzgerald, MSW, Case Management Specialist, International Rescue Committee and Co-Chair of the Child Protection Case Management Task Force
All over the world there are Child Protection caseworkers and social workers accompanying vulnerable children through some of the most harrowing experiences of their lives: Abuse. Family separation. Exploitation. Engagement with armed forces. Trafficking. Displacement. Child marriage.
It is the task of social workers and caseworkers to support and protect children in these situations, to build trust in order to understand what they have experienced, help them find safety and navigate a way forward toward healthy development. On a daily basis, workers engage with children and families in order to provide direct support and connect them to life-saving services. In such environments, clear solutions and decisions regarding children’s best interests are often complex and unclear.
While the work itself is deeply meaningful and essential, it is also relentless in hurdles and stress. There are often complicated family dynamics, dangerous environments and significant legal and bureaucratic obstacles. In addition, witnessing the suffering of children and their families on a constant basis can lead to vicarious trauma and burnout.
With the complexity of the work and the high demands on workers, governments, NGOs and community-based organizations should not expect them to do it alone. Recognizing this reality, the Case Management Task Force of the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action has prioritized the well-being of caseworkers and social workers by developing an Inter-agency Case Management Supervision and Coaching Package. Here’s what we’ve learned:
Supervision is critical.
What we know is that consistent, structured supervision is essential in order to provide social workers and caseworkers the necessary support to consider children’s best interests and cope with the daily stressors of the work. Evidence from practice and research has taught us that workers who are supported through consistent supervision can improve the lives of children and families. Supervision can ensure that children who have experienced violence, exploitation, abuse or neglect receive the appropriate services and are protected from further harm by providing adequate support to workers.
Best practices from the Task Force have been adopted across various organizations, sectors, and countries.
We are thrilled to see that this resource and advocacy has reached Child Protection organizations, workers and supervisors across the world, in both development and humanitarian settings including Myanmar, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Iraq, Syria, Burundi, Tanzania, Turkey, Niger, Kenya, Burkina Faso and counting.
Investing in Supervision and Coaching yields improved performance from workers and better outcomes for children and families.
Through an external review of the Supervision and Coaching package, it was found that the Supervision and Coaching training initiative has increased the capacity of caseworkers to provide quality case management. Supervisors have reported improvement among caseworkers in their communication, interactions and support to children and their families. In Nigeria, it was mentioned that there has been a shift in confidence of workers, as they now feel equipped to seek guidance and support from supervisors. Some informants mentioned that they have seen higher responsiveness and improved support to high risk cases as a result of consistent supervision for caseworkers.
Supervision requires first and foremost an investment from the start, as well as adequate staffing structures, building trust within a team and resources. Child protection workers need time to reflect, space to learn and support to process their experiences in order to sustain themselves in this critical work. When our organizations make investments in developing, guiding and supporting workers, we see improved outcomes across the board – for case management teams, staff retention and most importantly for the children and families we serve.
Want to learn more about the Supervision and Coaching Package? Visit the launch page to access the resource in English, French, Arabic and Spanish. There are also videos and testimonies from several countries.
The Case Management Task Force worked closely with the Alliance Case Management Interest Group in the development of resources contained in the Case Management Compendium for the social service workforce, which also incorporated materials on supervision. Noting the importance of collaboration across humanitarian and development actors working on issues related to child protection, the recently released 4Children Case Management Package also built on this work.
Strengthening Social Service Delivery through Workforce Development in the Middle East and North Africa RegionSubmitted by Nicole Brown on Sun, 09/29/2019 - 2:00pm
- There are many countries within the region that have made great progress in planning, developing and supporting their social service workforce, through establishing policies, codes of ethics, minimum standards, licensing, registration, and training and degree programs. Learnings from these countries can be applied to support countries still in the early stages of workforce development.
- Low ratios of social service workers to child population reduce access to and quality of care. The number of workers per 100,000 children ranges within the eight countries from 19 to 140. The global target ratio is 2000 workers for every 100,000 children.
- Lack of available data on this workforce negatively affects allocations of proper human and financial resources, resulting in decreased quality and availability of services.
- With up to 173 different job titles for social service workers reported, comparing data across countries can be challenging; however, this also highlights progress and importance of cultural and contextual application of titles between English, French and Arabic.
By Wanda Jaskiewicz, HRH 2030 Director
Originally appeared on the HRH2030 website, reposted with permission
The numbers are staggering. One billion children under age 18 experience some form of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse. With more than two billion children in the world, that means one child in every two is exposed to harmful situations that negatively affect them now and long into their future.
There is no question the problem is complex and must be tackled from many sides. Of interest to HRH2030, of course, are the workforce implications; in particular, the health workforce and the social service workforce. Imagine how much more powerful of a force they would be if they intersected more regularly. And not only for direct intervention with children suffering some form of abuse or neglect but also for their family members, whose health and well-being are essential to prevent and mitigate abuse situations and provide children with the nurturing environment they need to grow.
However, for the most part, we in the global health community tend to talk about these two groups separately and take a siloed view of them, when we could all learn—and children and families could be better served—from an integrated, more inclusive approach. Personally, when talking about the health workforce, I prefer to use the fuller, more inclusive term of “health and social services workforce.” It’s well documented that the social determinants of health affect health risks and outcomes. The advocacy role that the social service workforce plays for its clients in its own domain is often lacking within health systems—because health workers must focus on other things. Too often, however, healthcare is impeded when patients can’t focus on getting well because they are worried about how their illness is causing housing issues, employment issues, or childcare issues or makes parenting more difficult. It’s the social service workforce—social workers, case managers, child protection agents, youth care officers, and others— that facilitate access to services in these areas.
In some countries, this kind of integration is better established or is trying to get there. In Colombia, the current government launched a cross-institutional social and health framework, called Ni Uno Mas, or Not One More, with the goal of providing better services in order to reduce the high child mortality rates associated with all types of violence. This initiative is led by the first lady, the Ministry of Health, and the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF); the latter is an HRH2030 partner in our Colombia activity. Ni Uno Mas also involves participation from the private sector (Fundación Éxito and Niñez Ya), the public sector (local and regional governments), international organizations such as USAID and UNICEF, and most importantly, local communities. This framework strives to improve the coordination between institutional stakeholders, clearly defining the roles of all those who are involved, qualifying the services with better tools in parenting and family care, improving social and health sector capacities with training in technical skills, and ensuring a link with vulnerable rural communities and indigenous populations.
I was fortunate to visit Colombia in May, where I met with leaders and providers of child welfare services from both the health and social service sectors. HRH2030 is supporting the cross-institutional social and health framework and is working with ICBF, the Ministry of Health, and the National Learning Service (SENA) to develop training for social workers, psychologists, lawyers, nutritionists, and health personnel in order to ensure better adherence to childcare protocols and better case management practices with children and families. In addition, we are supporting the process to improve the coordination between stakeholders with a clear referral process, as well as to establish better communication processes with the communities to ensure their direct involvement in the referral process.
Colombia is not alone in taking a more integrated approach to the health and social service workforces. Evidence from South Africa has shown that the child protection component contributes to supporting HIV prevention goals. The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance continues to document the role that the social service workforce plays in contributing to the fight against HIV and AIDS. Earlier this year, UNICEF published Guidelines to Strengthen the Social Service Workforce for Child Protection, which recognized the undue burden that violence against children places on the social service workforce and how it undermines investments in health.
As we’ve seen in the human resources for health domain, calls for more integrated and inclusive approaches can have results. After years of advocacy for scaling up and better integration of community health workers into health systems, for example, the WHO issued guidelines last year on optimizing community health worker programs into health systems, and soon thereafter, members at the World Health Assembly adopted the CHW resolution to invest in these types of programs.
We talk a lot about interprofessional care within health systems, and when we do, we are mostly thinking about integrating physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and nutritionists and the like. Wouldn’t it be great if we could more naturally and more frequently think about social workers when we think about health workers, too? Doing so will let us join forces for the benefit of children and families and help ensure quality health for all.
 Hill, Susan, et al. “Global prevalence of past-year violence against children: A systematic review of minimum estimates,” Pediatrics 137(3): 1-13. 2016.
HRH2030 Project Director Wanda Jaskiewicz has more than 20 years of experience in international health and development with a focus on human resources for health, HIV/AIDS, family planning, reproductive health, and maternal and child health.She has worked in more than 25 countries providing strategic leadership to advocate for global and national initiatives to strengthen the health workforce.
HRH2030 Communications Director Elizabeth Walsh contributed to this blog.
Photo:. Credit: HRH2030, 2019.
blog by Dr. Mark Kavenagh, Head of Research and Policy, ECPAT International
Sophie was only 13 when she was taken from her home and exploited at the hands of a relative. Barred from attending school and forced to perform household chores, she was left destitute precisely when she needed support and care the most.
Human trafficking for the purposes of forced labour or sexual exploitation is the third largest crime industry in the world, behind drugs and arms trafficking. Almost one third of human trafficking victims in the world are estimated to be children.
Far from being restricted to less developed countries, human trafficking sees no boundaries and affects various groups of people regardless of their gender, age, or ethnicity. All regions are affected, and all countries can be a destination, source and transit point for traffickers.
Commonly understood as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person by such means as threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud or deception for the purpose of exploitation,” human trafficking, is not always well understood. Many social service providers may have encountered clients who have experienced forms of trafficking, though clients may not disclose this to practitioners, and in some cases, may not even self-identify as victims.
Although a large number of detected trafficking victims are women (almost 60 percent based on UNOCD estimates), we now understand that children and men are represented among victims in much higher numbers than previously thought. The latest figures also show that a growing number of cases take place at the domestic or regional level, with research showing that traffickers and their victims often “come from the same place, speak the same language or have the same ethnic background.”
Factors leading to trafficking are wide-ranging and complex and can include poverty; globalization; corruption; weak rule of law, and poor law enforcement. It is important to keep in mind however, that victims and survivors of human trafficking have diverse socio-economic backgrounds; varied levels of education; and may be documented or undocumented. Many are deceived or coerced, initially believing that they have been hired for a real job, or that they are going to get married, before finding themselves trapped and powerless.
Law enforcement bodies are key in dealing with the identification and protection of victims, but they are far from alone in fighting human trafficking and social services providers are a big part of the solution in support for victims and in moves to eradicate this pervasive crime. The ECPAT International Network, which includes 104 member organisations across 93 countries, plays an active role in the fight against the trafficking of children for sexual purposes: both on the frontline, by providing helplines and direct support to victims; and behind the scenes, by conducting research, advocacy and policy monitoring. A number of ECPAT members act to prevent children from being trafficked and sexually exploited, particularly through early or forced marriages, prostitution, by travellers and tourists and in online child sexual abuse material.
In many ways, the needs for social care of trafficking victims don’t differ substantially from those of other clients seeking care from helping professionals. A range of supports can be provided - from counselling to cope with traumatic experiences, through to supported reintegration back into communities – with attention to the push factors that may have put people at risk in the first place.
In serious cases, particularly involving children, specialist care and support is necessary. Some members, like ECPAT Foundation in the North of Thailand, employ specialist child protection staff with social work backgrounds to educate young people on the risks to consider when migrating for work, relevant laws to protect themselves, and how to access support when they need it. Others, like ECPAT USA, concentrate their efforts on leading public awareness campaigns such as the #doesyourhotelknow campaign, to alert the private sector and ordinary citizens of the role private businesses and particularly the travel and tourism industry can play in safeguarding children from exploitation. Many of our members engage with the private sector and encourage companies to implement a child protection code of conduct. Others are more involved with governments and development partners in drafting and supporting policies that protect children and criminalise offenders.
From producing research and leading support groups and shelters, to running campaigns and petitions at the regional and global level, ECPAT International’s work is varied and comprehensive. However, despite making headway in protecting children from trafficking and exploitation, ECPAT International cannot abolish the practise on its own and needs the help of other organisations and individuals to do so.
The international community has already committed to “take effective measures to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking” and to “end abuse, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children” by 2030 via the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To raise public awareness of trafficking, the international community will observe World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30. Now is the time to act and put an end to this crime, collectively and permanently.
ECPAT International is a global network of organisations (104 member groups in 93 countries) dedicated to combating the sexual exploitation of children. The ECPAT International Secretariat is based in Bangkok, Thailand, and is the administrative and supporting unit of the network. The Secretariat coordinates and supports a range of network initiatives including research, programming and active campaigning along with the development of tools and provision of technical support to the global ECPAT network.
Dr. Mark Kavenagh, Head of Research and Policy, ECPAT International
Mark Kavenagh joined the ECPAT International Secretariat as Head of Research and Policy in early 2018 where he oversees a range of research projects that focus on ending the sexual exploitation of children. Mark began his career as a registered psychologist and worked in school settings with children and adolescents before moving into international development a decade ago. Since then, Mark has lived and worked in South East Asia and Eastern Europe in child protection programming and research roles. Most recently he worked for ChildFund Australia as their Child Protection Advisor. Mark holds a Doctorate of Educational Psychology from the University of Melbourne.
Characteristics of a Relational Child and Youth Care Approach Revisited (Garfat, Fulcher, Freeman)
Love Tenderly (Mark Smith)
Caring For and Caring About (Mark Smith)
The Isibindi Model, a conversation with Zeni Thumbadoo, Oct 28th, 2015
Do We Really Want Compliance? A conversation with Dr. Lorraine Fox, Sep 28th, 2016
An audio-drama online. “This podcast is a story. Many stories. Our stories. Fictionalized. About living and working in shelters. And how we ended up in them.”
Transitioning Home has six episodes.
The Catastrophe of Compliance (Lorraine Fox)
A Framework for Understanding and Practice in Residential Group Care (Jim Anglin)
Newbury, J. & Vachon, W. (2019). Community settings, outreach and youth engagement. In K. Gharabaghi, & G. Charles, (Eds.) Child and Youth Care Across Sectors: Canadian Perspectives, Vol. 1: Canadian Perspectives. Toronto, ON:Canadian Scholars.
Graham, J., Hightower, J. & Vachon, W. (2018). Transitioning from home, to Home: Ethics, safety, and aesthetics in community art creation. Relational Child and Youth Care Practices, 31(2), 51-60.
Vachon, W. (2014). Characteristics of a CYC Improviser: Approaching with “yes, and...”. CYC-Online, (186), 31-38.
Vachon, W. (2010). Honouring the wounded: Inviting in our successes and mistakes. Relational Child and Youth Care Practice, 23(2), 54-62.
In celebration of World Social Work Day, the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance is sharing events, resources and learning opportunities to drive advocacy efforts and actions for strengthening the social service workforce.
CELEBRATE: World Social Work Day
Every year, World Social Work Day is celebrated the third Tuesday of March, and events are organized throughout the month of March. This year, World Social Work Day is on March 19. The day is an opportunity for social workers and others in the social service sector to celebrate their achievements as well as to raise awareness and support for the important role that social workers play in the lives of vulnerable families and communities. The day calls attention to the need for further planning, development and support to the profession and social service sector.
ATTEND: The 6th Annual Social Service Workforce Alliance Symposium, May 7
The Alliance hosts an annual symposium to provide a forum to discuss efforts to strengthen the social service workforce.
Collecting and analyzing data to better understand the social service workforce is fundamental and foundational to creating informed advocacy. Regional panels of speakers representing a variety of stakeholders will provide examples of how they have used new evidence and recommendations to better support advocacy efforts and to design and implement strategies to better plan, develop and support the workforce. Speakers and breakout work sessions will also make connections to global trends and progress toward achieving the recommendations within the Call to Action. The Symposium will include the launch of the 2018 State of the Social Service Workforce Report which provides a comparative look at social service workforce development in four regions.
Participants will be able to join in person in Washington, DC, and via live webcast from any location.
GET INVOLVED: World Social Work Day Events Around the World
Many national associations and organizations around the world are hosting events today and throughout the month of March to call attention for the need for greater support for social workers and other social service workers. Read about events in Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cyprus, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, India, Japan, Lativa, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, and many other national and global activities. A number of materials have also been developed to help in promoting the workforce today and throughout the year. If you are participating in an event, we encourage you to submit photos, quotes and stories.
WEBINAR: Innovative Approaches to Advocating for the Social Service Workforce, March 20
The Alliance will present during the Global Social Welfare Digital Summit on March 20 at 10:30 am ET on the topic "Innovative Approaches to Advocating for the Social Service Workforce." Join online to learn about materials and methods to advocate in your country to government and decision-makers.
WEBINAR: Role of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance as a Forum to Advance Knowledge and Advocate for Policy Reform, March 26 & 28
Speakers comprised of Alliance staff and Steering Committee members will provide an overview of the Alliance to serve as an orientation for newer members or new stakeholder groups wishing to become more involved. Presenters will share history on the development of the Alliance, existing tools and resources, and highlight current work underway. They will also share the many ways for members to become involved in supporting this work and how to engage with global colleagues. Following the presentation, speakers will answer questions from participants. This webinar is being held at two different times to allow for maximum participation by members across different time zones.
ADVOCATE: Participate in the Advocacy Interest Group
Share resources, practical examples and ideas for effective advocacy by participating in the newly formed advocacy interest group. In order to strengthen the workforce and improve the lives of children and families, greater planning, development and support is needed to this frontline workforce. This group is currently gathering existing tools and resources and will then explore gaps and needs for being more vocal and sharing a common global message to advocate for this workforce.
About the Alliance
The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance works toward a world where a well-planned, well-trained and well-supported social service workforce effectively delivers promising practices that improve the lives of vulnerable populations. The Alliance pursues this approach by serving as a convener for a network of 2,200 members and stakeholder groups in 134 countries, advancing knowledge through dissemination of evidence-based research and tools, and advocating for workforce-supportive policy reforms. Learn more and become a member at www.socialserviceworkforce.org.
Realizing a need for data on the state of the social service workforce and guidance on systematically strengthen this workforce regionally and nationally, the child protection and social policy sections of the UNICEF Regional Office and Country Offices in Middle East and North Africa have partnered with the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance and Maestral International to undertake a mapping and analysis. Selection of the countries was determined by the Regional Office based on the progress to date, interest of the national stakeholders and preparedness for the review expressed by the Country Offices. Countries implementing the review include: Djibouti, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan and Tunisia.
Many of these countries have also already undertaken important steps towards such workforce strengthening, for example in Morocco, a repository was developed of social service workforce competencies.
To support the review, the Alliance has developed a questionnaire and a survey designed to gather quantitative and qualitative data to map the social service workforce. This includes also gathering data on education, supervision, training experiences and other areas prioritized in the currently developing UNICEF key indicators for social service workforce strengthening.
One respondent in Tunisia shared that “Our country has a very important history of developing and strengthening the social service workforce, including social workers as well as other categories of social service workers including psychologists. We must continue to work together to ensure their specific profession is fully recognised and respected, both at senior policy level as well as in terms of distinguishing social service professions from other professions such as medical and educational professions."
In each country the tools were translated and underwent language clarification and contextualization based on the local context and availability of data, as well as feedback from national stakeholders. With a goal of obtaining responses from multiple key stakeholder groups and at least 250 workers within the social service workforce in each country, the data is intended to provide a clear picture about the workforce nationally.
Following collection of data, led and supported by the key ministries and national stakeholder groups, national roundtable discussions are being held to help identify and agree on priority actions for strengthening and advocating for the social service workforce.
The work will culminate in a regional report providing an overview of the state of the social service workforce in the Middle East and North Africa. The report will be designed to inform the work of UNICEF and its national, regional and global partners to improve policies, programs, advocacy and knowledge generation related to the social service workforce in the region. The data will be included within the Alliance’s 2018 State of the Social Service Workforce Report, that will also include data from three other regions to provide a multi-regional review of trends and make recommendations for regional and global steps toward strengthening of the workforce. The mapping tool is among several tools that the Alliance is developing as part of a package of tools to support UNICEF country offices in national workforce strengthening efforts. Following roll out by UNICEF mid-2019, the toolkit will then be publicly available for social service workforce supporters to use within their programs.
As the year draws to a close, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you - our members and other supporters – for the many accomplishments we’ve achieved together. Below are some of the highlights that your advocacy, outreach, expertise and support made possible this past year.
Advocating for Workforce
Some highlights of how you’ve helped us to advocate for workforce-supportive policy reforms at the global and national levels include:
- Through widely sharing with your networks, 35 organizations have now signed on to show support for the Call to Action for Strengthening the Social Service Workforce to Better Protect Children and Achieve the SDGs. This advocacy tool makes recommendations at the country and global level for governments to initiate, lead and engage in dialogue with partners in order to strengthen the workforce and improve the lives of children and families.
- During the 5th Annual Social Service Workforce Week, members helped to encourage individuals and groups to take specific steps toward achievement of the recommended actions outlined in the Call to Action, and shared replicable examples from their organizations of ways they are supporting workforce strengthening efforts.
- To advocate for the workforce to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, elements of the Global Advocacy Toolkit continued to incorporated into members’ national and regional advocacy efforts to bring greater political and programmatic priority for strengthening the social service workforce, particularly in the areas of ending violence against children, improving health and well-being and supporting refugees and migrants.
- Alliance members participated in World Social Work Day events held around the globe. Alliance staff presented at the Social Work Day at the United Nations event in Geneva and Alliance Ambassadors presented on advocacy approaches at the CRISOWO Conference in Rwanda.
Alliance members aim to advance knowledge by deriving, organizing and disseminating critical evidence-based research, resources, tools, models and best practices. Here are some of the ways we collectively advanced knowledge in 2018:
- Members with three regions contributed data and input into Alliance-led workforce mappings and assessments in 16 countries within the East Asia and Pacific region and nine countries within the Middle East and North Africa region in collaboration with UNICEF Regional and Country Offices. In addition, the Alliance completed a scoping of eight countries in South Asia, documented in the State of the Social Service Workforce in South Asia Report to establish a baseline of information and data on the workforce in each country to guide and assist country-level action plans toward strengthening the workforce.
- Members shared and responded to a survey to inform the State of the Social Service Workforce Report 2017: Stories of Workforce Efforts to Address Violence Against Children. This third annual report provides insight into workers’ backgrounds, training, education, services provided and organizational factors to demonstrate the value of multidisciplinary approaches to addressing violence against children.
- Alliance Members within the Interest Group on Case Management developed and released two new resources: Core Concepts and Principles of Effective Case Management: Approaches for the Social Service Workforce and a Compendium of the best existing tools, forms, training materials and other resources on case management.
- Five webinars were held over the course of the year, on topics suggested by members ranging from case management and ending and preventing violence against children to the role of a Council and workforce support to refugees. The Annual Social Service Workforce Strengthening Symposium featured partners and supporters sharing examples of how they have helped to elevate the discussion about the workforce, increased visibility and implemented strategies to strengthen the workforce.
Members from government, NGOs, academic institutions, donor groups, professional associations and community practitioners actively participate in the Alliance network to create a forum for discourse and collective learning. Some of these efforts in 2018 include:
- Through participation in mapping work, Alliance members and supporters helped convene or support formation of multi-stakeholder country task groups in more than 12 countries. In Uganda, Alliance Ambassadors and staff actively participated in the National Social Work Symposium for the launch of a national social service workforce strengthening strategy.
- Through sharing updates and inviting colleagues, members helped the Alliance network to expand by 600 members and 20 countries, totaling 2,100 members in 131 countries in 2018, increasing the reach of the network and numbers of workforce advocates.
- The second cohort of the Alliance Ambassador program began in September, with 10 Ambassadors from 10 countries. The first cohort finished their two-year terms, contributing to formation of a national association of social workers, training social service professionals on improving disability inclusion in programming, drafting of a bill on regulating and licensing of social work as a profession, increased budget allocations for hiring more social service workers and development of a code of ethics for social workers.
Looking Ahead to 2019
Many exciting efforts are underway and will be realized in 2019 through continued support by you - our members and partners. Through your input and participation, we continue to develop new tools and resources for a stronger workforce.
- The Alliance is developing a toolkit for UNICEF to support Country Offices in implementing the programme guidance on strengthening the social service workforce specific to child protection. The guidance will be released in the coming months, and the toolkit will be publicly released mid-2019 and include a tool specific to carrying out national workforce mapping, one of the most requested tools by our members.
- The Alliance's State of the Social Service Workforce 2018 Report will include a multi-regional analysis and assessment of the workforce. Data from the three mappings and assessments in the East Asia and Pacific, Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia, will be compiled for this report, which will be shared during the 6th Annual Social Service Workforce Strengthening Symposium in May 2019.
- Members will have increased advocacy opportunities. A new advocacy interest group will launch in early 2019 for members to exchange effective advocacy approaches for greater political will and programmatic support to the workforce, and members will also be asked to participate in sharing how national plans of action are underway toward achieving the recommendations within the Call to Action.
- Additional details will be shared in the coming months. Through sharing knowledge and contributing expertise across the network, we all play an important role in contributing to a stronger social service workforce.
As we enter the season of gratitude, we would like to express our appreciation to all of you - members, advocates and supporters of the Alliance’s work - toward building a stronger social service workforce that is best positioned to meet the needs of vulnerable populations. We are thankful to Alliance Steering Committee members, staff, Ambassadors, interest group members, consultants and the many others who have contributed their time and talent this year. We are thankful to our donors – USAID, GHR Foundation, UBS Optimus Foundation and UNICEF – for supporting ongoing and new work. We look forward to continued engagement to advance this work in 2019 and invite our members to join our circle of friends by donating to this work.