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Webinar 12: Strengthening Social Service Systems through Cross-Sectoral Collaboration: Multidisciplinary teams in communities and local health facilities

Webinar Summary and Recording

Click here to view the full webinar.

On October 15, 2013, the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance hosted its 12th webinar to discuss multidisciplinary teams in communities and local health facilities. This webinar is the first installment in a two-part series on “Strengthening Social Service Systems through Cross-Sectoral Collaboration.”

Jim McCaffery, Senior Technical Advisor with CapacityPlus, opened the webinar by defining multidisciplinary teams within the context of social service workforce strengthening. Made up of representatives from different disciplines, these teams work together to deliver the full spectrum of services to vulnerable children and families. He emphasized the key reasons why these teams are important, with the overall goal of improved services to children and families in mind. He illustrated how multidisciplinary teams are able to approach situations or problems more holistically and systematically, resulting in more effective and better informed decisions, less duplication, and greater likelihood of sustainability than social service workers acting alone.

Expanding on this opening statement, Lynette Mudekunye of the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) presented on the formation and actions of multidisciplinary teams resulting from the organization’s certificate program in “Community Based Work with Children and Youth.” Originally designed for those working directly with children and youth at the community level like community caregivers, there was great demand for this training from workers in a wide range of disciplines such as teachers, social workers, nurses, police, and magistrate’s office personnel. The course itself facilitates sharing and coordination between diverse types of workers in child protection and in some cases it has resulted in some poignant examples of improved services for vulnerable children and families. Ms. Mudekunye highlighted one such case of a 15 year-old youth with a disability who was begging in town. He was encountered by a social service worker who was also a course participant and part of the multidisciplinary group that had formed during the course in Solwezi, Zambia. Due to involvement in this group, the social service worker was able to connect the young man to another course participant who worked at an association that could support him, a representative from a scholarship program so that his two younger siblings could attend school, as well as other social welfare services. Ms. Mudekunye also presented similar examples from groups formed in Zimbabwe and focused on the ability of these groups to increase referrals and the promising role that technology could play in further developing these teams.

Dr. Bernadette Madrid, Executive Director of the Child Protection Unit Network Foundation and Director of the Child Protection Unit at Philippine General Hospital, added a hospital-based perspective to the conversation, providing detail on the establishment of women and child protection units and their multidisciplinary teams in the Philippines. These teams ordinarily consist of a physician, social worker, police, mental health professional and a nurse. There are currently 55 staffed units throughout the archipelago. The goal of the Child Protection Unit Network Foundation is to support staffed units in every province. Supported by national and local legislation and funded by a variety of sources, these units and their specially trained, co-located staff are integral for providing comprehensive medical, psychological, social and legal services to abused children and their families. Dr. Madrid presented greater detail on the Child Protection Unit at Philippine General Hospital, describing the team’s approach to a suspected case of child abuse step-by-step, from the forensic interview and medical evaluation to the legal counseling, Kids in Court model and wraparound social services provided by the team members based on their training and disciplines.

Each of the presentations was followed by a brief question and answer session moderated by Amy Bess, Coordinator of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance. Questions focused on results of both the REPSSI course and the Child Protection Units in the Philippines, as well as any issues that have arisen on these teams due to their varied backgrounds and roles in the collaboration effort. Participants also expressed their interest in expansion of the REPSSI course to other parts of Africa and information on career development of its graduates.

In closing, Jim McCaffery thanked the webinar participants for their active participation, noting the number of comments and questions raised in the chat window. He encouraged webinar participants to share upcoming events related to strengthening the social service workforce and directed them to the Alliance website for more information on part two of the series on cross-sectoral collaboration.