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The Role of a Council in Supporting Social Service Professions

The Role of a Council in Supporting Social Service Professions

November 28, 2018
Webinar 28

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Ms. Zeni Thumbadoo
opened the webinar by thanking attendees from around the world for joining this 28th webinar hosted by the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance. As moderator of the webinar, she introduced the webinar topic on ‘The Role of a Council in Supporting Social Service Professions’ and the three presenters speaking about the South African Council for Social Service Professions role in regulating and professionalizing social work (SW) and child and youth care work (CYCW). The Council is uniquely comprised of two boards: the Professional Board for Social Work and the Professional Board for Child and Youth Care Work. The Council is a statutory body, authorized through a governmental Act.

Ms. Langi Malamba provided an overview of the history and reasons for establishment of the Council, which began after the end of apartheid in 1994 and the passing of the Social Service Professions Act in 1998. The Social Work Board was established initially to coordinate and regulate social service professions, followed by the Professional Board for Child and Youth Care Wwork aimed at professionalization of this particular cadre within the social service workforce. She then provided an overview of the composition and structure of the Council and two professional boards. The purposes of the Council include: registration of all practitioners; education, training and development; professional conduct; and supporting professionalization of any emerging occupations designated by the Minister of Social Development, such as the cadre of community development which is currently being considered. The Council is sustained through annual registrations, fines imposed for lack of registration or late registration, funds appropriated by Parliament or the Minister of Social Development, and any other fundraising undertaken by the Council. To ensure compliance in registration, the Council works closely with employers for periodic verifications and audits. Ms. Malamba concluded by giving an overview of registration numbers, showing the significant growth in registrations from 2016 to 2018 for social work and CYCW practitioners, students and auxiliary workers from 52,814 to 78,281.

Dr. Marie Kruger then presented on the Professional Board for Social Work, which consists of 9-12 members from social work, community members, educational or training institutions, legal field and sector specific experience. She shared that both boards are comprised of committees and task teams with mandates for review, regulation, setting standards and oversight in training, education, ethics, professional development and conduct. The board communicates with the Minister on matters of public importance and provides guidance on protecting the public. There are currently seven specializations that require appointing moderators and examiners for carrying out examinations through cooperation with training institutions. The two boards and Council uniquely work together in an integrated, unified and supportive manner to promote innovative, indigenous methods of multi-disciplinary practice. The boards have also championed integrated case management transformation in partnership with UNICEF and the Department of Social Development. Dr. Kruger highlighted some of the challenges faced by the board, including salary disparities and inconsistent payment, breach of contracts or confidentiality, unprofessional conduct, poor working conditions and perils of social media. These challenges are being addressed through advocacy and lobbying, ethics training, ongoing communication with the sector, updates to policies and a code of conduct for employers. She highlighted some of the achievements thus far, including a revised scope of practice for social workers; development of a close relationship with the Association of South African Schools of Social Work for training and development; open public review of specializations within social work, development of a code of ethics for workers and employers; and updating policies on continuing professional development, international qualification and fit and proper practitioners.

Ms. Aziwe Magida shared the journey of recognition of CYCW as a profession. The process for establishment of the Professional Board of Child and Youth Care Workers took nine years but realized through championing of the profession by workers as well as the social service sector as a whole. A number of roadshows were conducted to raise awareness and gain support. She shared some of the key issues facing the board, including limitations on employment opportunities and professional growth into management/supervisory roles, salary disparities between NGOs and government workers along with inconsistent payments, employer non-compliance with requirements for mandatory registration and ensuring new practitioners register. Annual reminders are needed for workers to re-register each year. Workers also face a number of safety and security issues in the communities where they work. Increased opportunities for higher education are needed to improve employability and upward mobility. There are currently two universities in South Africa offering CYCW degree programs, with a third university piloting an online distance degree that could be replicable by other universities and countries. Ms. Magida also shared some of the many achievements of the professional board, including an overwhelming response for registration, publication of amendment regulations for a broader definition at the professional level, board representation to the university working to fast-track a distance-learning degree, and release of the continuous professional development policy for public consultation. The board has also overseen development of a code of ethics with a dynamic video to raise awareness of the policy, roadshows to connect with workers and hold registration drives, initiation of advocacy process with government for better working conditions, and review of learning material for auxiliary level trainings.

Following the three presentations, participants were able to pose questions. Participants raised a number of questions on the recognition and professionalization of child and youth care work, method of the two boards working collectively, registration policies and oversight, and methods for overcoming challenges.

Ms. Thumbadoo concluded the webinar by thanking the presenters and participants. She invited those attending the webinar to become a member of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance in order to receive notice of future webinars and other updates relevant to the profession. She shared that this webinar, along with the 27 prior webinars, can all be viewed on the Alliance’s YouTube channel.

Ms. Langanani (Langi) Malamba, Registrar, South African Council on Social Service Professions

An experienced social worker with 29 years’ experience in different social work settings, Langi has served as registrar of the SACSSP for nearly three years. She holds a master’s degree in management and is working toward an MBA. She also serves as chairperson of National Network on Violence Against Women.

Dr. Marie Kruger, Chairperson of the Professional Board for Social Work, South African Council on Social Service Professions
A social worker with 36 years’ experience, Marie is a private practitioner specializing in adoptions and therapy for children and families. She has served as Chairperson of the PBSW for the last two years and also as an executive board member of the South African Association for Social Workers in Private Practice. She holds a PhD in Social Work.

Ms. Aziwe Magida, Chairperson of the Professional Board for Child and Youth Care Work, South African Council on Social Service Professions
Practicing as an Organizational Development Consultant for over 12 years, Aziwe has supported seven PEPFAR partners in strategic management through training and building the capacity of the partner organizations’ boards for improved governance. She has also established monitoring and evaluation systems.

Ms. Zenuella (Zeni) Sugantha Thumbadoo, Deputy Director, National Association of Child Care Workers, South Africa, and Steering Committee member, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance

Zeni has dedicated her working life to the children’s sector in South Africa – in direct service provision, contributing to children’s policy and legislation, advocacy, and model development. Since 1997 she has worked as the Deputy Director of the National Association of Child Care Workers. She currently serves as Vice Chairperson of the Professional Board for Child and Youth Care Work of the SACSSP. She has served on the Global Service Workforce Alliance Steering Committee since the organization’s launch in 2013.