Georgian Coalition for Children and Youth Welfare calls upon the Government to support and empower social workers

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Source: The Georgian Coalition for Children and Youth

Coalition for Children and Youth Welfare is disturbed by the incident which occurred on September 5th: while implementing the decision to protect children’s rights, social workers became victims of attack from the side of the family as well as victims of mockery from the side of the patrolling police. Sadly, such attitude has become a characteristic of the work carried out by the law enforcement agencies.

All the organizations within the Coalition regard the institution of a social worker as one of the major supporting systems for children, youth and their parents. Their well-being depends, to a great extent, on the quality of social work services. The above incident, as well as the trends towards diminishing the component of social work during the last several years demonstrate that the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs does not support, and, moreover, hinders the social work service under the Social Services Agency from implementing the above stated goal.

The state is responsible for the well-being of children and parents, as well as provision of services necessary to support the development of the child, to empower his/her family and to prevent abandonment of children, which includes directing the resources of social workers towards achieving this goal – ensuring that social workers are serving the goal of empowering and supporting children and families and that they are not busy with numerous functions not adequate to their profession which were imposed on them by their employer without consulting them. Consultations were not held with the non-governmental organizations within the Coalition for Child and Youth Welfare either, e.g. on whether the social worker should be the responsible professional for implementing the decision on removing the child from his/her home or whether the social worker should be the only responsible professional for the above noted – whether this decision should be the responsibility of a multidisciplinary team; if this is the sole responsibility of the social worker, what guidelines should be in place for implementing the removal; how the obligations relating to the implementation of the removal should be distributed among social workers, e.g., after work hours, on weekends and holidays, etc.; what activities need to be conducted before the implementation of the removal (what work needs to be undertaken with the family and the child prior to implementing this decision, etc.). Despite imposing the obligation for implementing the decision on the removal of children from homes on social workers, these questions remain unanswered.

Social workers do not have the necessary tools (re-socialization programs, methods, models) or work conditions to implement their obligations. The work conditions at Gldani-Nadzaladevi Social Services Center do not withstand any criticism. The working conditions there are insulting to the dignity of not only social workers, but also the individuals they serve. Providing services in these conditions is violating the labor rights of social workers as well as the rights of beneficiaries to receive services.

Unfortunately, Gldani incident is not the only case when social workers had to withstand attacks from beneficiaries when carrying out their obligations and the procedure of removing the child from his/her family with the goal of protecting the child’s rights as per the law. This is a difficult decision for social workers which they carry out in the child’s best interests. The last case demonstrates that the social workers who are in difficult situation and are stripped of the necessary tools for work become victims of negligent and skeptical attitude from the side of the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, as well as the patrolling police instead of receiving support from these agencies. Up to this day, none of the ministries has made a public statement about the incident and has not expressed public support to the social workers, families and children who are the victims of the above noted situation.

The Coalition requests from the Ministry to present its vision on developing and strengthening the component of social work within the child welfare field which will enable social workers to provide services to children, their families and all the individuals who need their help by using social work methods and approaches. The noted is their major professional obligation and is emphasized in both the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Social Charter[1]. The achievement of this goal should result in the increase in the number of social workers and creation of the necessary work conditions for them to undertake their work obligations. The Ministry should immediately start discussions on these topics with the participation of wider public and the involved stakeholders.

A strong social worker is a guarantee for empowering and ensuring equal opportunities for parents and children!

  1. Children of Georgia
  2. Georgian Association of Social Workers
  3. SOS Children’s Village Georgia
  4. Save the Children, Georgian branch
  5. Partnership for Human Rights
  6. World Vision Georgia
  7. Partnership for Children
  8. First Step Georgia
  9. Public Health Foundation of Georgia
  10. Association Anika
  11. Global Initiative on Psychiatry
  12. Tanadgoma
  13. International Association Civitas Georgica
  14. International Association For Aid To Children Suffering From Leukemia
  15. The McLain Association for Children
  16. Caritas Georgia
  17. ADC Studio
  18. Association “Right to Health”
  19. Women’s Information Centre
  20. Anti-Violence Network of Georgia
  21. Small Group Homes Association
  22. Our Home Georgia
  23. The Georgian Centre For Psychosocial And Medical Rehabilitation Of Torture Victims – GCRT
  24. Rehabilitation Initiative for Vulnerable Groups
  25. Society „Biliki“
  26. Nonviolent Communication Institute
  27. Union “Imedi Plus”
  28. Child and Family Association
  29. Association for Assistance to Hearing and Speech Impaired Children (Parent’s Union)
  30. Welfare And Development Centre
  31. Union „Orioni“
  32. Initiative for Social Changes
  33. International Scout Centre Rustavi
  34. Young Pedagogues’ Union
  35. Divine Child Foundation of Georgia
  36. Partnership for Social Welfare – PSW
  37. Children’s Welfare League
  38. Child, Family, Society
  39. International Charity Fund For Children Suffering From Leukemia
  40. Mtskheta-Mtianeti Committee of Anti-Violence Network of Georgia
  41. Equal Opportunities Policy and Advocacy Institute

[1] European Social Charter, article 14/1