Call to Action - Strengthening the social service workforce in Europe and Central Asia

Building social services that reach the most vulnerable children and families

Dana, 6 year old and Alexandru, 7 years old. The family is supported by the social worker and community nurse in Colonesti, Bacau County, Romania.


Available data suggest that more than 22 million children are living in poverty in the Europe and Central Asia Region.  Children are far more likely to be living in poverty compared to adults, with some children particularly vulnerable – children with disabilities, children from large families, single parent households and Roma children.

A strong social service workforce – well-trained and supported professionals who work to ensure the healthy development and well-being of children and families, is critical in addressing poverty, social exclusion and violence.

Over the last 30 years a considerable social service workforce of many tens of thousands of personnel has been deployed in the countries of the Europe and Central Asia region. In many countries social service workers have caseloads that are too high, while their skills are poorly aligned with their responsibilities and functions. These workers – critical to the well-being of the most vulnerable children and families in society simply do not receive enough support.  With the aim of strengthening social work and the social service workforce across the region, 200 government officials, academics, civil society representatives and UNICEF specialists from 22 countries across the Region[i] convened in Bucharest on the 21 November 2018.

The outcome of the conference is a Regional Call for Action endorsed by more than 20 countries from Europe and Central Asia. The Call to Action outlines key principles in strengthening the social service workforce:

  1. Agreeing to a common set of definitions of the social service and allied workforces in the ECA region
  2. Effective long-term planning of the social service workforce and aligning functions, processes, competencies and qualifications
  3. Developing the competencies of the social service workforce
  4. Supporting the social service workforce
  5. Developing the allied workforces

Additional resources to help guide social work professionals and governments in strengthening social services are available for download in the box on the right.

[i] 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.

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