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Proposed Guidance on Developing Minimum Social Service Workforce Ratios

An adequately planned, developed, and supported social service workforce is critical to enable equitable access to social protection and basic social welfare for all, in both development and humanitarian contexts. An important step in planning the required workforce is to establish a minimum social worker to population ratio and allocate resources for workforce development and support until the minimum ratio has been achieved, with the aim of ensuring sufficient quality of services to protect clients’ rights, promote their well-being and help them achieve their full potential.

This guide is intended to inform policy makers and workforce managers in ministries of social welfare, finance and planning, and, where applicable, provincial or district authorities and other relevant national bodies responsible for the recruitment, deployment, funding or regulation of the social service workforce. The guide can also be used by a national level leadership group tasked with defining an adequate level of resourcing for social services, and, on this basis, a minimum ratio of workforce to population, alongside other steps to strengthen the social service workforce.

It aims to serve as a step-by-step guide, outlining key considerations for estimating minimum workforce ratios at the country level or for a specific local context, to enable equitable access to quality social services for all. It can be applied in both development and humanitarian contexts.

Establishing a minimum ratio is an important step in helping policy makers to cost the level and type of investment required to develop and support the required workforce. This guidance note therefore is accompanied with a costing tool that will enable government planners to develop a compelling evidence-based budget proposal and case for investment for increased resource allocation, in order to meet the identified social welfare needs of the target population.

The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance and UNICEF developed the “Proposed Guidance on Developing Minimum Social Service Workforce Ratios” with the intention that it be a working document. To ensure the guidance is as useful as possible please fill out this feedback form. Your insights will inform future revisions and updates. 

This guidance can be used in correlation with our Proposed Guidance for Costing the Social Service Workforce.

Global Social Service Workforce Alliance
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Gray literature
Resource Database