This publication outlines five clear steps that child welfare agency leaders can take to build and maintain a strong, stable frontline workforce.
While community level workers, often para professionals, provide an array of social services in various countries across the globe, the functions and activities of these workers are not well described or delineated within or across countries. Training, credentialing, supervision and evaluation of para professional community social services vary as well based on local context. The Alliance's Interest Group on Para Professionals in the Social Service Workforce developed a guidance document for developing programs and activities related to how para professionals can be trained, developed, deployed and supported, and a competency framework to provide program guidance, accountability and ultimately inform both training and supervision. The guiding principles related to planning the the paraprofessional social service workforce are as follows:
- Clear descriptions of functions, roles and the skills necessary to fulfil the responsibilities at each level in each field should be outlined in job descriptions.
- While definitions and job descriptions concerning para professional social service workers may vary between countries and programs all should meet some minimum functional definitions and standards.
- Employment opportunities, inside and outside of government, should be developed. Public-private partnerships need to be actively sought to facilitate the absorption of new graduates of training programs, with positions already approved in the schema of services offered.
- Opportunities for research that can demonstrate the impact of para professional social service workers need to be identified, promoted and utilized.
Resources Related to Planning the Workforce
The Alliance has created a curated list of resources specifically relevant to planning, developing and supporting the para professional workforce. These tools are selected from a wider array of relevant tools you can find in our resource database and are intended to feature practical information and actions necessary for strengthening the para professional social service workforce.The below resources are selected as best practice for information, tools and specifics related to planning the para professional workforce:
This resource related to community health worker remuneration, training and education, data collection, certification, career ladder, supervision, offers best practices that can be replicated by social service workers and other community service providers. The data demonstrates that when all of these factors are considered and met, CHWs are best positioned to provide needed community services and improve health outcomes.
Findings of a study on how local public social services are planning, managing and training the social services workforce.
With guidance and training in child protection district officials and community leaders worked together to map vulnerable households and issues in communities, organize and fortify orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) response committees at the district and sub-county levels, and train PSWs to identify, report and respond to issues of child abuse, neglect and vulnerability.
This resource includes many components for conducting a needs assessment and helping to plan and develop the workforce at US state agencies.
Home visiting is a popular component of programs for HIV-affected children in sub-Saharan Africa, but its implementation varies widely. While some home visitors are lay volunteers, other programs invest in more highly trained paraprofessional staff. Results suggest that programs that invest in compensation and extensive training for home visitors are better able to serve and retain beneficiaries, and they support a move toward establishing a professional workforce of home visitors to support vulnerable children and families in South Africa.
This study sought to understand how community caregivers impact access to health care and social services for these children and families. The study found that households that received community caregiver support received better care and had better clinical and social outcomes than those not being supported by a community caregiver. Programs should consider using community caregivers to support adherence to treatment, improve psychosocial wellbeing of caregivers and children, and increase overall access to needed services.