BUCHAREST, 21 November 2018 – 200 government officials, academics, civil society and UNICEF specialists, together with other key stakeholders from 22 countries in the Europe and Central Asia Region* are convening here for a high-level conference to establish a platform for strengthening social work and the social service workforce across the Region.
The three-day conference, starting today, is organized by the Ministry of Labor and Social Justice of the Government of Romania and the National Agency for the Protection Children’s Rights and Adoptions (NAPCRA), together with the UNICEF Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Regional Office.
The aim of the conference is to agree upon common principles, a regional agenda for identifying priorities, addressing challenges and taking action in each country through a regional Call for Action that:
- Makes the case for systematic investment in workforce strengthening as a strategic and sustainable approach to ensuring better outcomes for children.
- Reflects the principles of social work and the competencies that are needed among social workers and the wider social service workforce to coordinate and plan together across sectors and disciplines, build relationships of trust with and reach out to the most vulnerable populations to strengthen community engagement and inclusion.
- Furthers achievement on a range of goals on social inclusion, poverty reduction and ending violence and discrimination for both children and adults.
UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Afshan Khan, said that the successful social reforms seen across the region in the past ten years demonstrated the importance of the social work and social service workforce.
“It is time to become much more concrete and strategic about the professionalization of this workforce, and to ensure our investments are having the maximum impact,” she said. “UNICEF commits to working with Governments across the region in the coming years.”
Available data suggest that more than 22 million children are living in poverty in the Europe and Central Asia Region. Their age and their dependence on adults leave them far more vulnerable to the impact of poverty, with potentially lifelong consequences. Therefore, national social protection programmes – such as child benefits – should be backed by access to integrated services at the community level, Ms. Khan added.
Specialists from child protection, social protection, health, education, early childhood development, migration, justice and youth sectors will analyze best practices for the participating countries to plan, support and develop both social work and the wider social service workforce in a comprehensive, systemic and multi-sectoral way.
* Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo (UNSCR 1244), Kyrgyzstan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.