The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation is working on a draft of the “National Strategic Plan on Social Services Workforce in Cambodia 2022-2031” with the broad goals of improving social services and increasing the number of social workers in communes over the next decade.
Minister of Social Affairs Vong Soth said at the third consultative meeting on the draft on November 16 that the first strategic plan will run for 10 years and will be focused on capacity building and increasing the number of social workers or assistant workers at the commune level to improve public services.
The minister added that the strategic goal was to protect the Cambodian people’s wellbeing by hiring and training professional social workers to ethically provide social services to the poor and vulnerable.
He continued that the ministry’s vision for this workforce involves using experts from both government and non-governmental organisations working together with children, youth, adults, families and communities to ensure their social development and wellbeing.
He noted that social services play an important role in supporting vulnerable groups by reducing poverty. They also identify and manages risks, provide protections and assist vulnerable people and their families in accessing welfare services.
He said a professional social services workforce is critical to upholding social justice, reducing discrimination, fighting injustice and changing dangerous social perceptions to prevent violence, abuse and neglect of children and all forms of exploitation with the aim of achieving an inclusive society.
Soth added that a recent study revealed there were currently 3,764 social worker positions in the entire government providing a ratio of 64.4 social workers per 100,000 children.
In addition to the social affairs ministry, some relevant ministries and institutions – such as the Ministry of Health which has medical social workers – have been developing or seeking to establish social services. But the number of trained social workers in Cambodia needed to increase and capacity building would be an important part of the strategic plan, Soth said.
“Cambodia needs a social services workforce to contribute to social development and to build a comfortable society by working with communities in which people need all kinds of support, regardless of the psychology, materials, education, society, politics and economies,” he said.
Samheng Boros, secretary of state for the social affairs ministry, said the draft strategic plan prepared by the ministry was written in collaboration with the Social Assistance Committee and with the support of UNICEF Cambodia, Plan International Cambodia and Friend International, among others.
He added that the third consultation would be the most important as it would involve engagement with all stakeholders who have experience with formulating policies in the social services sector and would therefore be an opportunity to collect additional input on cross-sectorial work in accordance with the legal standards of each sector.
“After revising the draft to take into account the recommendations of ministry leaders and the inter-ministerial representatives, the working group will seek approval from the minister who will then refer it to [Prime Minister Hun Sen],” he said.