Social Support and Care Services

All children need effective social support to help them out of of poverty, exclusion, discrimination and help them to both survive and thrive

A child getting out of a canvas playing tube
UNICEF/2017/Georgiev

The challenge

Even though social support and care services exist, there are often hurdles that make them inefficient and inaccessible to some children and families, which in turn leaves too many children without the proper social support and care they need.

There are three major positive impacts that social support and care can have over children’s lives. First, they can help keep vulnerable children together with their families. Second, they can help lift children out of poverty by either complementing social transfers or delivered as a standalone service. Finally, social support and care can help even the playing field so that the most excluded children are also able to access basic social services such as healthcare, education, water and sanitation.

If there’s no efficient social support and care system, the problems facing children will remain unresolved and many children will remain at risk of poverty, at risk being excluded, discriminated against, or simply not able to fully enjoy their rights, to survive, thrive and grow into successful and contributing members of the society.

The nexus for social care provision in the community is often the Centre for Social Work.  Currently, Centres for Social Work are particularly underrepresented in rural areas where they are needed most. Existing Centres and Social Workers are sometimes overwhelmed with more cases than they can possibly manage.

Social workers need to focus more on social rather than administrative work

Many Centres are understaffed and in need of additional support.  Social work professionals within the Centres for Social Work are also overburdened with administrative work also makes them less able to focus on preventive field work – work that may be the key to really support children and their families. That also means that too many children are left out, facing increased risks for their development and their general well-being.

Stigma and low awareness prevent full use of social services

There is also a pervasive social stigma against people seeking help from Centres for Social work – an embarrassment about neighbours funding out that a person is seeking assistance.  This, in combination with low parental awareness about the role and the potential assistance and support that can be received through the Centres for Social Work, contributes  to families who might benefit from asssitance not reaching out to Centres and Social Workers for support.   .

These are all factors that put children at greater risk of poverty, exclusion, discrimination, violence, abuse and neglect... For UNICEF, that is simply not fair.

The solution

UNICEF is working with the Government to create a more efficient social support and care system by focusing on capacity development for Centres for Social Work and the people who work in them, helping them to balance the often overwhelming tasks and workload they face. UNICEF supported the creation of a basic pre-service training curriculum that is now required for the process of licensing social work professionals.

We are working on introducing integrated case management, which has the potential to improve the overall social support and increase efficiency of resources used to holistically address the needs of the those in need of social support services.  This will encourage mutli-disciplinary teams to work together at the local level, to help individual children and families. 

Based on the latest behavioral science achievements, we are working on creating models for increased motivation and efficiency of social workers, and decrease the administrative burden that keeps them from helping children and families more.