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The social service workforce in and beyond the pandemic: A global conversation

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On 15th September 2021, the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance and Children and Families Across Borders co-hosted The social service workforce in and beyond the pandemic: A global conversation on adaptation, innovation and the fight for social justice. 

Over 260 participants from across the globe joined the virtual event to discuss the biggest issues facing the social service workforce. Participants stemmed from a broad range of roles and experiences—including social service practicioners, academics, students, policy makers and advocates—and had the unique opportunity to come together to discuss experiences and insights related to the impact of the pandemic on social service practice, education and training as well as on the role of the social service workforce in social justice. 

The agenda featured opening remarks from Dr. Kathryn Wehrmann, Chair of the Chair of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Steering Committee; an overview of lessons learned from the Alliance's State of the Social Service Workforce Report 2020 by Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Director, Hugh Salmon; a session on social service workforce practice in and beyond the pandemic facilitated by Dr. Heather Modlin, CEO with Amal Youth and Family Centre; a session on social service workforce education and training in and beyond the pandemic facilitated by Dr. Prospera Tedam, Professor at United Arab Emirates University; and a session on the role of social service workforce in advancing social justice facilitated by Dr. Vishanthie Sewpaul, Emeritus Professor at the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. During each session, participants were placed into breakout rooms to discuss their experiences and insights on the topic areas with other panelists from across the globe. Participants engaged in further discussion with one another by placing their key insights from their session into an interactive discussion platform. 

Read the full event report.


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Event Recordings and Presentations

Welcome Address and Overview of Social Service Workforce Report 2020

Download slide deck from welcome address.

Download slide deck from State of the Social Service Workforce Report 2020.

Session 1: Social Service Workforce Practice In and Beyond the Pandemic

Download slide deck from Session 1.

Session 2: Social Work Education and Training In and Beyond the Pandemic


Session 3: Role of the Social Service Workforce in Advancing Social Justice

Download the slide deck from Session 3.

Chair and Facilitators

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Chair: Dr Kathryn Wehrmann

Dr. Wehrmann is an emeritus associate professor of social work at Illinois State University where she had served as the BSW Program Director. She had also served as the MSW Program Director earlier in her career. Her professional background also includes work in Illinois’ public child welfare system and serving as a consultant on a variety of child welfare projects and programs. She has developed child protection training programs for several cohorts of Romanian officials and has been a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of Bucharest and had subsequent grants to carry out special projects. Her research interests include program evaluation of child welfare and adolescent mental health programs. For the last several years she has taught practice evaluation and field education at the MSW level. Dr. Wehrmann has served as the U.S. National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Board President (2017-2020). In this role she also had the privilege of serving as a member of International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) Executive Committee. At present, Dr. Wehrmann is serving as adjunct faculty at Fordham University in NYC where she is teaching social policy online. She is also serving as an adjunct faculty for Marist College’s Social Work Department. She has served on the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Steering Committee for the past two years and is the current Chair of the Steering Committee.

Facilitator: Dr. Vishanthie Sewpaul

Professor Vishanthie Sewpaul (PhD), an awardee of three honorary doctoral degrees from Chile, Norway and Sweden, is a globally recognized social work and human rights scholar, international speaker and activist. She held leadership positions at institutional, national, regional and global levels, and visiting professorship positions at numerous international universities. She chaired the following committees on behalf of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW): Global Standards for SW Education and Training (2004); Global SW Definition (2014) and the Global SW Statement of Ethical Principles (2018). She is currently the world coordinator for a conference to be co-hosted by three global social work/social development organisations in 2024. She was Senior Professor at the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa where she remains Emeritus Professor, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Stavanger, Norway. She has over 100 academic publications and has recently completed her memoir titled, The Arc of Our Paths: Growing into Wholeness.

Facilitator: Dr. Prospera Tedam

Prospera Tedam previously taught social work at the Open University, University of Northampton and Anglia Ruskin University before joining the department of social wellbeing at the United Arab Emirates University. Her research has focused on culturally sensitive social work, equality and diversity, anti-oppressive practice, faith-based abuse and the experiences of Black African social work students in practice learning. Her recent book introduced the 4D2P Framework for identifying, understanding and disrupting oppression in social work encounters. The aim of the framework is to assist social workers to understand the steps through which they can evaluate their own non-oppressive practice on an ongoing basis.

Facilitator: Dr. Heather Modlin

Heather has worked with young people in residential care for over 30 years. She is currently CEO with Amal Youth and Family Centre, a non-profit organization providing a range of innovative, culturally diverse services to individuals, families and communities. Heather previously served as provincial director of Key Assets Newfoundland and Labrador, an organization providing alternate and family-based care to children and youth. Heather has served on numerous national and international boards, and is currently Chair of the Board of Governors of the International Child and Youth Care Network (CYC-Net); an Advisory Board member for Snorble, a company dedicated to the development of AI-based products designed to support families in fostering healthy habits; a Steering Committee member of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance; and an editorial board member of the Relational Child and Youth Care Practice journal. Heather has an MSc in Child and Youth Care Administration from Nova Southeastern University and a PhD in Child and Youth Care from the University of Victoria, where she is also a sessional instructor. In 2017, Heather received the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award for Community and Social Development in Newfoundland and Labrador, in 2018 she was the Atlantic Canada nominee for the RBC Women of Influence Social Change Award, and in 2019 she was a finalist for the Lynn Factor Stand up for Kids National Award.