Social Welfare Workforce Strengthening Conference

Social Welfare Workforce Strengthening Conference

MSH is attending the Social Welfare Workforce Strengthening Conference in Cape Town this week. AIDSTAR-Two, a USAID-funded MSH led project, is a key organizer of the conference.

Ghazal Keshavarzian, Better Care Network Senior Coordinator, provides an update from the Social Welfare Workforce Strengthening Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. This post originally appeared on

Over 150 government, academic, and civil society representatives from across Africa, Vietnam, Haiti and the United States are gathering this week in Cape Town, South Africa to share lessons learned and plans for future efforts to strengthen the social welfare workforce that cares for vulnerable children and families. Funded by USAID and PEPFAR, the Social Welfare Workforce Strengthening Conference is raising the profile of this very important but neglected issue.

As the opening speakers highlighted, sadly, countries continue to grapple with the severity of child protection issues---abandonment, trafficking, abuse, neglect and exploitation. Too many children live outside of the care and protection of a family and community environment. A functioning social welfare system serves as a vital safety net for children and families worldwide.

While a great deal of work has been done in strengthening the social welfare workforce to support vulnerable families and children, the conference highlights the gaps and challenges inherent in functioning social welfare systems and workforces. Countries continue to grapple with over-burdened, understaffed and fragmented workforce. Much more needs to be done to ensure that this important workforce is trained and supported.

The conference provides an excellent opportunity, via the panel presentations, plenary sessions and country team meetings, for constructive dialogue, information sharing and country level planning. The conference is an important step towards ensuring that this vital workforce is strengthened, resourced and supported. Let’s hope that this is just the beginning of more dialogue and planning to ensure that children and families do not fall through the cracks but, instead, are provided the adequate care and protection that they deserve