Studies show that approximately 1 billion children worldwide have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence in the last year alone. While the magnitude of violence against children can be discouraging, one of the solutions and reasons for great hope lies in strengthening the social service workforce.
The social service workforce is on the front lines every day to prevent and respond to violence against children in its multiple forms, by:
Playing a key role as central actors facilitating collaboration amongst service providers
Carrying out strengths-based assessments
Providing or referring children and their families to support services
Monitoring children separated from their families who are living in institutions and home placements and supporting their reintegration
Providing direct counseling and psychosocial support
Mobilizing communities and facilitating community discussions about cultural beliefs and social norms related to violence
Supporting the development of policies and legislation
Carrying out policy and programmatic advocacy
Social service workers have noted the many positive changes over time that children and families have experienced as a result of their work together, as reported in the State of the Social Service Workforce Report 2017., developed by the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance. Outcomes include an increase in children and families’ self-worth, self-confidence and morale. They have seen increased trust, communication of feelings, attachment and emotional bonds among family members. They have noted that caretakers better understand how to engage with and care for the children in their care. And they have seen families benefit from various services, such as health and nutrition, shelter and birth certificates and have become empowered to earn income to support themselves and their families.
These positive outcomes are only possible when the right number of workers are in the right places with the right training. This requires careful strategic planning with a diverse range of people at the table.
Ending Violence Against Children Requires a Strong Social Service Workforce - Webinar
Objectives of the dialogue
The aim of the webinar is to examine how strengthening the social service workforce is an important component of different countries’ national plans of action to address violence against children and the seven strategies outlined in the INSPIRE package. The webinar will feature speakers providing background about Pathfinder Countries and the National Plans of Action, UNICEF’s role in helping countries realize the strategies outlined in the INSPIRE package, advocacy efforts to call for greater attention to the workforce in these efforts, and country-based examples from Tanzania and Montenegro about the integration of workforce strengthening into national plans to address violence against children. Read best practices from Tanzania, Montenegro and elsewhere on integrating the social service workforce within these plans of action.
Momentum and opportunity: Strengthening the social service workforce
Recent advocacy efforts to ensure the social service workforce is backed by adequate political, financial, technical and moral support
Protection of children in Montenegro from violence through strengthening the social service workforce
Strengthening the social service workforce in Tanzania through the National Plan of Action
Strengthening the social service workforce for child protection
* Moderator: Dr. Catherine Maternowska, Advisor, Data, Evidence and Learning, Global Partnership to End Violence against Children
Read how organizations that have signed on to the Call to Action are supporting social service workforce strengthening efforts:
Having worked in child protection for the last 10 years in Thailand, Global Child Advocates recognizes the need for an increase in social service workforce capacity to provide family support services and assistance to orphanages seeking to shift their care model to family-based care. Working alongside the Thai child welfare department, the organization provides guidance for orphanages and shelters along the border region on child protection best practices in an effort to provide family-based care for all child victims of abuse and trafficking. GCA is supporting social service workforce strengthening as a critical component to facilitating care reform in a safe and sustainable way so that more children have the chance to grow up in a safe, loving family.
Shanduko Yeupenyu Child Care in Zimbabwe supports the Call to Action because it aligns with their mission of protecting children through strengthening the social service workforce. Shanduko helps children to thrive in difficult circumstances through provision of psychosocial support services to physically and sexually abused children. They support drop in centers in the region and consult with child protection committees, recognizing the key role of social service providers in this work.
The Together for Girls partnership aims to raise awareness, promote evidence-based solutions and galvanize coordinated action to end violence against girls and boys. TfG believes that a strong and locally-based social service workforce plays a crucial role in both preventing and effectively responding to violence against children. TfG is contributing to knowledge exchange and cross-cultural learning through a variety of resources, including launching the “Every Hour Matters” campaign, which aims to increase awareness about the critical importance of quickly accessing post-rape care and calls on national and community leaders to ensure comprehensive services are available in all communities.
The Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland’s (CELCIS) international work aims to promote the implementation of Guidelines on the Alternative Care of Children. CELCIS shares the understanding that the social service workforce, encompassing social workers and social pedagogues, carers and multiple other professionals and volunteers, play a pivotal role in reforming and improving current care systems and increasing the emphasis on supporting families and preventing the separation of children, while ensuring that those who cannot be cared for in their own families receive the best possible care. CELCIS is developing a collaboration of key stakeholders to develop course topics and identify resources to strengthen knowledge and practice skills in child and family social work in specific countries where professional social work is a new or recently developed profession, or where it has recently expanded.