Special Joint Issue with the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance
March & April 2018
"What I love the most about being a social worker is identifying and following up on children in difficult circumstances to make sure they are assisted so they can have a better future."

-Justin Silas, Social Worker and former Para Social Worker, Tanzania
This special issue of the Better Care Network newsletter, published jointly with the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, highlights the Alliance's annual State of the Social Service Workforce Report, which focuses on the role of the social service workforce in addressing violence against children around the globe. This issue also features other resources related to the role of the social service workforce in child protection and children's care. These publications include: tools and guidance for practitioners on implementing case management, research articles examining the roles and experiences of professionals in the fields of children's care and protection, and other best practice examples.  We include these resources  in the hope that those working in the fields of children's care may draw from the learning presented here and apply it to their own work at local, national, regional, or global levels.

Florence Martin
Director, Better Care Network

Amy Bess
Director, Global Social Service Workforce Alliance

The Focus Section brings together research and other documentation published over the past year or two on a particular theme or region. Its aim is to draw attention to the growing body of knowledge developing on the issue and help busy practitioners keep abreast of learning and changes.

State of the Social Service Workforce Report 2017: Stories of Workforce Efforts to Address Violence Against Children
In this third annual report, the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance highlights the many ways that the social service workforce positively impacts the lives of children and families affected by violence. The 2017 State of the Social Service Workforce Report includes qualitative analyses of survey data and a storytelling approach to provide insight into workers' backgrounds, training, education, services provided and organizational factors to demonstrate the value of multidisciplinary approaches to addressing violence against children. Building on the findings from individual stories, this report also draws from the global evidence base on social service workforce strengthening to suggest practical interventions that might be used to strengthen the workforce and ultimately improve the lives of children and families. A webinar was held on 12 April to review the report findings and recommendations. View the webinar recording and presentations here.

Developed by members of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance's Case Management Interest Group, this resource aims to define case management. It provides key steps and other important considerations for strengthening the ability of the social service workforce to effectively carry out case management throughout all steps of the process in order to: improve decision-making and service delivery in child welfare and protection that reduces violence against children, prevents unnecessary family separation, and improves child and family outcomes.

Members of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance's Case Management Interest Group developed this Compendium to share existing best practice case management tools and resources. Using a matrix to analyze resources submitted for review, a total of 25 resources were selected for the Compendium and divided in four categories: Core Concepts and Principles, Tools and Forms, Standard Operating Procedures, and Training Materials. The selected resources are meant to be useful to audiences of various workforce levels and represent perspectives and practices across different regions and stages from humanitarian to development.

Case Management and Supervision Package
This package from the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action is a compilation of resources and new evidence for case management and supervision of humanitarian workers in responding to child protection situations around the  globe. It includes presentations and other resources from the Alliance and the Child Protection Area of Responsibility (CP AoR) on Psychosocial Support for Parents/caregivers & Families, Situation & Response Monitoring, and reviewing child protection in emergencies proposals. It also includes a presentation from the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action introducing a case management and supervision coaching package, and a presentation on the Guidance Note on the Protection of Children during Infectious Disease Outbreaks.

National Case Management System for the Welfare and Protection of Children in Zimbabwe
The purpose of this document from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare of Zimbabwe is to provide a framework for implementation of the National Case Management System (NCMS) for the care, protection and welfare of children in Zimbabwe. The document outlines the national case management conceptual framework, standard operating procedures in the case management system, guidance on facilitating the case management process, and roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders (including government and civil society). It also includes an overview of training and supervision in case management and forms applicable in similar contexts.

This article from Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology provides a discussion of the theoretical basis underpinning safety and risk assessment in child protection, and further describes the empirical research process involved in the development of safety and risk assessment tools and training materials for social workers in the  South African child protection field. The study confirms a need for uniform safety and risk assessment tools and procedures in social work practice and highlights the critical role of collaboration between researchers and practitioners to enhance social service delivery in the protection of children at risk.

Indonesia is building a child protection system where primary preventions aim to support families and intervention is based on community-based care options rather than the current reliance on institutional care. Social work has been identified as the lead profession in this structural change. This requires social work to be better recognized as a profession in Indonesian society. This article from the journal of International Social Work outlines exploratory research in establishing a role for social work in child protection in Indonesia. Key learning outlines the need for global collaboration and the need for an indigenous Indonesian approach to the identity of social work.

In 2016, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) commissioned an Enquiry into the role of the social worker in adoption in the  UK with a focus on ethics and human rights. This report discusses the Enquiry's key messages and the process involved in arriving at them. The Enquiry sought the views of adopted people, birth families, adoptive families, social workers, social work managers and other professionals, and created spaces for dialogue about the role of the social worker in adoption with a particular focus on ethics and human rights. 

This study from the journal of Child & Family Social Work examined the associations between exposure to armed conflict, perceived support, work experience, needing help, and post-traumatic distress among  Israeli social workers in foster care agencies based on Conservation of Resources theory.  Practice implications are as follows: Foster care agencies should make greater efforts to provide knowledge and skills, support, supervision, and a "safe haven" for their workers, in the context of armed conflict.

The aim of this article from the Children and Youth Services Review is to study child welfare workers' individual and collective experiences of and expectations about their occupational role and responsibilities in their administrative and relational work with children and youth in foster care in Sweden. The results show that the child welfare workers are burdened by a heavy workload, but that the prerequisites and the obstacles they face also must be understood in relation to prevailing contradictions and dilemmas in their occupational role. Even though the child welfare workers stress that professionalism is about putting relational work first, their activity is dominated by administrative tasks and functional specificity.

In this article from the journal of International Social Work, child protection managers and direct service workers in Saudi Arabia report their experiences in implementing new policies. Findings of the study showed that early improvements to child protection policies and programs led to confusion among workers regarding their role and were perceived by the workers to be placing children at risk. Limited power assigned to workers, conflict with cultural norms, and a lack of specialist education in child protection were among the barriers preventing workers from undertaking their roles effectively.

This study from the Journal of Social Work examined communication between 51 transition-aged foster youth in the  US and their social workers as related to perceived relationship quality and satisfaction with care receipt/provision. Findings suggest that foster youth and social workers may communicate their authentic beliefs and expectations differentially by communicative channel. Further, both communication partners appeared selectively attuned to the most authentic speaker channels. These findings can inform case planning and intervention work focused on leveraging the power of the worker-youth relationship to improve key service outcomes for foster youth. 

In this paper from the British Journal of Social Work, the authors discuss a significant program of change in one London, UK local authority. Through observations, the researchers saw many examples of key participatory practice skills such as empathy, collaboration and involvement in decision making. They also saw many examples of reducing autonomy and excluding parents from decision making. Often, they found the same worker would adopt a participatory approach with one family and a non-participatory approach with another. The paper explores how and why workers used different approaches and discussed the barriers to adopting a more consistently participatory approach. The authors argue that truly participatory child-protection social work requires not simply better training or different tools, but an innovation in the value base of children's services.

This quantitative study from the journal of Child & Family Social Work contributes knowledge regarding the attitude of professionals towards positive parenting and child participation. The study was conducted with 106 professionals who work in the child protection system in  Spain and  Portugal. The results show a high degree of consensus among professionals regarding the following practices: (a) incorporating positive parenting into family reunification processes; (b) training the biological parents in parenting skills; and (c) promoting the active participation of children in foster care and reunification. Regarding the latter point, the study found that older and more experienced professionals are more open and inclined to promote participation in family reunification processes. The practical implications of the results invite us to review attitudinal competencies training for professionals working in child protection services, focusing on encouraging a positive attitude towards the parental competencies of the biological family and the active participation of children in foster care and reunification. These professionals' attitudes are a key factor in mediating the process of family reunification.

This guide from the U.S.-based Center for the Study of Social Policy's Strengthening Families project aims to provide case workers and practitioners with information on: building parental resilience and capacity, enhancing and leveraging parents' social connections, providing information on child development, connecting parents to resources, offering concrete support to parents in times of need, and more. The guide includes suggestions on what to look for, what questions to ask parents, and what activities to engage them in, in order to strengthen families.

Understanding the Situation

This study, from the Child Indicators Research journal,  tested the hypothesis that the average living conditions of orphans were less than the average living conditions of non-orphans in Uganda in 2011. Uganda Demographic and Health Survey data for 2011 were analyzed using Multilevel mixed effects regression to achieve the objectives. Although some differences between orphans and non-orphans were observed, the margin was small. The major factors which strongly associated with the variation in child living conditions were household headship, place of residence and regional differences. Thus, the study found, rather than emphasizing the association between orphanhood or other child characteristics, and child living conditions, the conditions that perpetuate the low intrinsic value conditions for all children should be targeted.

Preparedness for Emancipation of Youth Leaving Alternative Care in Serbia
In order to define what support is necessary for the successful emancipation of young people in care in Serbia, this study of 150 young people in care aims to analyze both their preparedness for leaving alternative care, and whether the type of placement (kinship, foster, or residential) makes a difference to the level of preparedness. Both the focus groups and surveys suggest that the biggest concern with the independence of young people leaving alternative care is financial stability. Several recommendations for ways to influence the system in order to improve outcomes for young people are made. 
Policies, Standards & Guidelines

The signatories of this open letter (including SOS Children's Villages, Better Care Network, and other partners) seek your support in calling for the 2019 United Nations General Assembly resolution on the Rights of the Child to focus on children without parental care .  A coalition of child-focused organizations and networks, have created a 2-page statement calling for UN Member States to select the theme of children without parental care as a focus for the 2019 Rights of the Child resolution, listing compelling reasons to do so. Read the statement and learn how to join the Call to Action at the link above.

Preserving connections: Best strategies for recruiting and retaining tribal foster families for American Indian and Alaska Native children
This brief guide from Casey Family Programs lays out strategies for recruiting and retaining U.S. tribal foster families for American Indian and Alaska Native children, ensuring that indigenous children can stay in their communities. This guide includes information on preferred placements for Native children, in order of priority; practices for successfully recruiting Native foster carers, as well as for retaining those carers; and the four primary strategy areas for effective recruitment and retention (infrastructure and resources, advocacy, policy, and agency practices). 

Maintain, Strengthen, Expand - How the EU Can Support the Transition from Institutional to Family- and Community-Based Care in the Next Multiannual Financial Framework
This publication from Opening Doors for Europe's Children analyzes the use of EU funds both within EU borders and across neighborhood and pre-accession countries. Based on this analysis, Opening Doors calls upon the EU to maintain, strengthen and expand the use of funds so they make a greater impact and go further to eliminate institutions for children across Europe and beyond. Specifically, the document calls on the EU to  (1) m
aintain the promotion of the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care through targeted investments via ESIF; (2) strengthen existing mechanisms for oversight and implementation of deinstitutionalization; and (3) expand existing mechanisms and regulations to promote the transition from institutional to community-based care to all EU internal and external funding.

This policy brief from the Human Sciences Research Council draws from the findings of a study which investigated the academic performance of orphaned learners aged between eight and ten years from ten public primary schools in Mankweng Circuit of Limpopo Province, South Africa. Based on the findings of the study the brief makes recommendations for the provision of afterschool intervention programmes by the Department of Basic Education to cater for the scholastic needs of the disadvantaged learners. The brief also advocates for the incorporation of psychosocial issues and counselling in the teacher training curriculum, coupled with the establishment of healing classroom and learning programmes which will focus on social and emotional issues.
Learning from Practice

The purpose of this endline evaluation from Save the Children is to assess the Child Rights Governance, Child Protection, and HIV & AIDS achievements against the project goal and outputs of a program implemented in Zambia entitled "Towards a systematic change to realize Children's Rights in Zambia." It also aimed at documenting key lessons learned per impact areas of the Child Protection and HIV&AIDS thematic areas respectively, to highlight the key challenges that may have affected the program in achieving results and provide recommendations for improvements for future similar programs.

This article from the Indian Journal Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyondis an analysis of a State sponsored scheme in Rajasthan, the Palanhar Yojana, which has been successful in demonstrating the success of the scheme as an instrument of family strengthening. The article analyses the assessment survey of about 366 Palanhar Yojana (Caregiver Scheme) beneficiary families in the city of Udaipur in Rajasthan, with the aim of creating an evidence-based foundation on which to design community-oriented family preservation/strengthening services. 

The effect of structured education on self-esteem and the suicide probability of male adolescents living in orphanages
This study from the Archives of Psychiatric Nursing journal aims to observe the effect of structured education provided to improve self-esteem and hope on the self-esteem and the suicide probability of male adolescents living in orphanages in Turkey. Three measurements were performed: the first at the pretest stage; the second at the posttest stage, and the third six weeks after the completion of the program. The Suicide Probability Scale (SPS) total scores and subscale scores of the study group were found to be statistically significantly lower in the second and the third measurements than in the first measurement. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) scores were found to be statistically significantly higher in the second and the third measurements than in the first measurement. Because this group of adolescents is deemed at risk, it was suggested that the self-esteem and the suicide probability of the adolescents living in orphanages should be analyzed in more detail, and that preventive approaches should be considered. 



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In this issue, we highlight the care-related Concluding Observations adopted by the  Committee on the Rights of the Child at its  77th Session held 15 January - 2 February 2018, with a particular focus on sections addressing children's care.
Click below to read the Country Care Reviews for the following countries:


Adoption for hard to place children
In this video, social worker Evelyn Nateza describes the process used by Child's i Foundation to find Ugandan adoptive families for hard-to-place children. This video is one within a series of videos produced by Child's i Foundation and Better Care Network.  The video is accompanied by a one-page discussion paper with a video summary, discussion points, and suggestions for further reading.

RISE Webinar on Case Management
In this webinar from RISE Learning Network, Yashoda Upreti shares how Terre des Hommes in Nepal has implemented a case management program to provide a transparent monitoring and quality control system which facilitates a process to sustain actions to promote child protection, relying on teamwork and a strong child-centered approach. The webinar explains the core characteristics of case management, as well as the steps of case management and its importance in supporting child protection and reintegration.


Al Jazeera, 13 April 2018

The Hindu, 7 April 2018

BBC News, 2 April 2018

UNICEF, 28 March 2018

CBC News, 26 March 2018

Reuters, 23 March 2018

NITV, 22 March 2018

Daiji World,  19 March 2018

Associated Press- U.S. News & World Report,  19 March 2018

The Epoch Times,  15 March 2018

Youth Today,  13 March 2018


5th Annual Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Symposium
8 May, 2018 - Washington, DC, USA 

1st National Symposium on Child Care and Protection
16-18 May 2018, Nairobi, Kenya

5 June 2018, Washington, DC, USA

4-7 July 2018, Dublin, Ireland

8-10 August, Nairobi, Kenya