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The Social Service Workforce

At the frontlines of providing support, care and protection to children, families, individuals and communities facing adversity 

Social service workers are often the first line of response for children, families, individuals and communities facing adversity. They create protective environments for healthy development and well-being by providing needed services to care for and support those who need it most.  

In a world where too many people face poverty, social exclusion, inequality and social injustice, a strong social service workforce is urgently needed. A well-planned,developed and supported workforce is better able to address the needs and enhance the resources of at-risk populations. 

When strong planning, training and support processesare in place, social service workers are better able to coordinate with efforts in health, justice, mental health and education, and, ultimately, to promote well-being and prevent and respond to a variety of risks, including violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect and family separation. 

Defining the Social Service Workforce

The social service workforce is comprised of paid and unpaid, governmental and non-governmental professionals and paraprofessionals who work to ensure the well-being of children, youth, adults, older persons, families and communities.The social service workforce provides preventative, responsive and promotive services that alleviate poverty, challenge and reduce discrimination, promote social justice and human rights, and prevent and respond to violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect and family separation.   

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Advocating for the Social Service Workforce

To gain the attention and funding levels needed to ensure a well-trained, developed and supported workforce, greater advocacy efforts are needed. We can all take steps, big and small, toward increasing awareness and interest in the workforce. Doing so requires each one of us to be more vocal in advocating to policy makers and program implementers. 

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Strengthening the Social Service Workforce

A well-planned, developed and supported workforce is better able to address the needs and enhance the resources and resilience of at-risk populations. Our Framework for Strengthening the Social Service Workforce is now widely considered as best practice in planning, developing and supporting the workforce. It is intended as a guide to support country efforts to strengthen the social service workforce and systems.