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UNICEF supports increased professionalism in social work

© UNICEF Uzbekistan/2010/Pirozzi
Elena Vorobyeva (right) is one of the social workers who were trained with UNICEF support.

FERGANA, Uzbekistan, 17 May 2011. – 40 practitioners from regional Departments of Trusteeship and Guardianship, Mehribonlik and Muruvvat Houses, specialized boarding schools, Family and Children’s Support Services, and other public service institutions working in the field of child and family support in the Fergana Valley were awarded social work diplomas today after completing an in-service training course.

This in-service programme on social work was introduced in Uzbekistan in 2007 through a joint initiative of the Republican Centre for Social Adaptation of Children, the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Since then, 200 specialists from child protection institutions have upgraded their skills and knowledge and are now able to apply new approaches to child protection service delivery. Graduate and post-graduate courses on social work that are currently taught at Tashkent Institute of Culture, National University of Uzbekistan, Samarkand and Fergana state universities also contribute to increasing professionalism of specialists working with children.

A trained network of social workers is the essential backbone of any effective child protection system and efforts to ensure that those protection rights as laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are upheld. "UNICEF commends the Centre for Social Adaptation of Children for their effort and commitment in creating a caring and protective environment for all children,” said Christine Gale, UNICEF Child Protection Chief of Section in Uzbekistan.

Developing the social work profession and building capacities of practitioners already in the field is part of the bigger strategic planning by national partners and UNICEF to create a more protective environment for children in the country. This also includes the development of a continuum of care for children that should be provided by children’s social services.

Work is currently under way to develop a child protection system which incorporates an ethos of protecting and supporting vulnerable children at home, including practices to ensure children are not removed from their families unless it is a last resort and for the immediate protection the child. Work is also concentrating on the re-integration of children already in care back with their families.

To this end, a pilot programme has also been successfully undertaken to provide evidence of how it may be possible to build multi-agency coordination for referrals and response and reduction of risk and prevention of harm through early intervention and family support. The four-month retraining programme aims to develop the skills of social work practitioners and their efforts to more effectively address the individual needs of children at risk by providing social support to vulnerable families. Retrained social workers are not only equipped with new skills and understanding of new methodlogy for the job but also become more confident in performing their regular duties.

The curriculum is built on international child protection standards whilst incorporating country specificities. It covers a range of issues, including social work management, child development, child protection from abuse and neglect, promotion of alternative forms of child care and, social work practices with regard to children with disabilities. Course work is combined with on-the-job practical work which facilitates the learning process and brings immediate benefits to employer organizations.



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