The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation on April 4 launched a strategic plan to enhance the national and sub-national social services workforce for the next nine years.

Named the “Strategic Plan on Social Services Workforce in Cambodia 2022-2031 and business cases on investing in social services work forces”, social affairs minister Vong Soth said the plan aimed to strengthen capabilities and increase the provision of social services to “at least two” social workers or deputy social workers per commune to enhance the social service force nationally.

The government hopes through the plan to achieve its key strategic goals of protecting citizens’ welfare and providing social services for victims and vulnerable people in a “professional and ethical manner”, Soth said.

Alongside the launch of the plan was the dissemination of additional guidelines on roles and responsibilities of social service workers at the town and district level.

Soth said that it was “harmonious social development” in Cambodia that enabled the government to identify the needs of its people and, accordingly, maintain national welfare – especially in ensuring the equitable and professional provision of social services across the Kingdom.

He said that in order to achieve its goals in the future, the government is aiming for the strategic plan to promote the social services as a key means to enact social change, for community building and to develop and work with communities in need of any form of support.

“The social services force is a collective vision that refers to specialists and associate professionals in both government and non-governmental organisations working with children, youth, adults, families and communities to ensure development and welfare,” he said.

The minister said that studies by the Global Social Services Workforce Alliance (GSSWA) and UNICEF had found that there were 1,551 social services teams in Cambodia in 2012, of which one-third of them worked at the national level and one-third had members who identified as women.

He further cited an additional study which showed that there are 3,764 social work positions in government, at a ratio of 64.4 social workers per 100,000 children, adding that several ministries and institutions have been developing or seeking to establish social services in their services, such as the Ministry of Health, which created a new medical social worker role.

The NGO Plan International Cambodia said that it “supported” the launch of the strategic plan. Its country Representative Quinnet Vong thanked the Ministry of Social Affairs for holding the event.

“The social services workforce plays an important role in supporting and promoting the welfare of children, families and vulnerable groups and identifying and managing risks, as well as facilitating access to, and provision of social support services, and ensuring that families who get support [can] access welfare services they need,” she said.