The status of social workers and the development of social services in Kazakhstan discussed at a forum in the capital

3rd International Forum of Social Workers of Kazakhstan started

01 October 2021
Social Worker's Forum
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2021

NUR-SULTAN, 28 September 2021 – Yerlan Aukenov, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Protection of Population of Kazakhstan, speaking at the opening of the 3rd International Forum of Social Workers of Kazakhstan, spoke about the development of draft laws aimed at increasing the status of social workers and the regulation of their work.

Yerlan Aukenov indicated that the status and capacity of social workers would be increased within the framework of the National Plan to Ensure the Rights and to Improve the Quality of Life of Persons with Disabilities in Kazakhstan until 2025.

"Official salaries of social workers have been increased by 50% this year. About 95 billion tenge from the state budget will be allocated for this purpose for the next three years," the deputy minister said.

At present, the draft law "On the social status of social workers in the Republic of Kazakhstan" is being developed in Kazakhstan, according to which it is proposed that salaries increase with higher requirements for assigning qualification categories, a record of social workers through attestation and registration is recorded and the system of training and continuous professional development of social workers is improved.

"Professional skills of social workers need to be improved through a system of continuing education and certification. According to the Ministry, 27% of social workers have secondary special education whereas 22% have no special education. In this regard, it is necessary to expand the field of social workers and improve professional standards," Yerlan Aukenov said.

At the same time, he emphasized that according to the draft law "On the social status of social workers in the Republic of Kazakhstan" pay will be set according to the level of qualification and standard workload including payments for psycho-emotional workload.

"The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan is actively engaged in international cooperation in the field of social work. In particular, we have long-standing cooperation with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) team in Kazakhstan in the implementation of joint projects in the field. We hope that this event will help all parties of the social partnership to find their way in the complex and diverse area of modern social work, will promote the exchange of experience, will help find new opportunities for the development of social work as a profession, practice and academic discipline in Kazakhstan," the deputy minister concluded.

Continuing the theme of cooperation with international organizations in modernizing the system of social assistance, the UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan, Mr. Arthur van Diesen, noted that educational courses for social workers have been developed and included into the curricula of universities with the support of UNICEF.

A pool of national trainers has been trained for this purpose with the support of colleagues from the L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, the Kazakh National University, the School of Social Work at Columbia University and other academic institutions.

According to the UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan, 11,000 specialists from medical and social institutions and employment centres were tested in 2020 to determine their professional and personal competencies and to identify their training needs in cooperation between the Ministry and UNICEF. Test results showed that 91% of social workers received the lowest passing score and 50% scored average or above average.

Arthur van Diesen also said that some 2,000 employees of the social protection sector have attended professional development courses over the past two years in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population. The professional development courses are continuing this year.

"Evidence shows the need to continue strengthening professional and interpersonal communication skills of social workers with a focus on inter-agency cooperation, developing individual plans and organizing support according to the level of risk and the best interests of a child," Artur van Diesen said.

Arthur van Diesen has emphasized that high quality and accessible social services for families are the basis for the prevention of child poverty, child abandonment and social orphanhood.

Therefore, it is important to conduct professional development courses on a regular basis. According to him, academia and NGOs have accumulated the required facilities, resources and methodological base.

"Thanks to a pilot project in Kazakhstan, 'An Integrated Model of Targeted Social Assistance and Social Services' based on case management techniques and methods of helping low-income families with children, we have seen the need to provide not only financial assistance but also support for the families in need using case management technique," Arthur van Diesen said. "This prevents child abandonment and the vulnerability of children from families in difficult situations. Eighty-six families consisting of 443 members in two regions of the country took part in the programme’s pilot testing. Also, 240 specialists working on the targeted social assistance programme have been trained."

Despite the difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is much that has been learned from the pilot project.

"We believe that the practice of providing targeted social assistance and services based on a comprehensive family assessment should be continued and extended to other regions. This will help fulfil the call of President Tokayev, who in his latest address to the nation clearly outlined the need for social programmes for those who really need them", the UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan said.

In line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the institutional care of children should be replaced by appropriate family support and child development services at the local level.

"UNICEF in Kazakhstan is actively cooperating with the Government of Kazakhstan to strengthen the human resources of social services and is ready to continue providing comprehensive support for the benefit of every Kazakh child," Artur van Diesen concluded.

Social work is a driver of social and economic modernization in Kazakhstan: HR policy and practice. Let us remember, that today the 3rd International Forum of Social Workers has started its work in the capital. It will last until September the 30th.

The forum is being held as part of the joint project of L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, UNICEF Kazakhstan and the Commissioner for Human Rights supported by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Forum participants have been discussing the priorities for social work development in Kazakhstan, especially in the field of children's rights protection, proposals for the promotion of social work as an academic discipline, profession and practice to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The workshops, a round table and an award ceremony for the winners of an essay contest on the topic "Career Opportunities for Social Workers" will be held during forum.

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