Building the Skills of Para-Professional Social Workers and Social Welfare Staff on Child and Family Protection

Saravane, Lao PDR 11 April 2019 -Under the framework of the Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants ( GLO.ACT), UNICEF recently supported the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW) to organize a training for provincial and district para-professional social workers and social welfare officials from the Attapeu and Saravane provinces. The training focused on a broad range of child protection and assistance issues.

Saravane and Attapeu are located in the southern part of Laos where para-professional social workers and social welfare officials have not received any training on child and families' protection issues. Yet, both provinces are subject to many issues that affect child protection such as irregular migration, violence, trafficking, lack of parental care and the impact of natural and/or manmade disasters. Thus, when incidents such as the sub-dam collapse in Attapeu in July 2018 happen, mobilizing an adequate response proofs difficult, making children much more vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and trafficking. Therefore, it is important to ensure that those working with children are trained on child protection issues to better identify vulnerable children and know how to action appropriate referrals and responses.

The 10-day training covered 10 modules in total with sessions ranging from gaining a better understanding of childhood and families, legal and policy frameworks to understanding child protection and child exploitation issues. As a result of this workshop, participants were able to increase their level of understanding and apply, in practice, the principles of social welfare, legislation relating to child protection and assistance at central and local level.

 "This training provides a good opportunity to exchange views and hear from different officials on issues concerning children in their districts. It provides new knowledge on how to address specific protection issues relating to children affected by the recent floods. It is clear to me that policies will need to be adjusted to make them more suitable to these circumstances," The Head of the Social Welfare Division of the Attapeu Labour and Social Welfare Department said during the training while adding that  he was looking forward to attend further training on case management.

Following the training, Ms. Malina Khaiphithoun from the Policy Division of the Saravane Labor and Social Welfare department explained that she had learned a lot about different processes, policies and laws applicable to different situations and cases, such as child sexual exploitation, child trafficking, and children affected by flooding, among others. "It is clear that some of these cases are very sensitive and require that those in charge have the adequate skills to support vulnerable and exploited children."

42 people, including 8 women attended the training conducted mainly by trainers from the Faculty of Social Welfare of the National University of Laos - this is the result of a long-standing cooperation between UNICEF, MLSW and the university. Upon completion of the course, participants' feedback will be incorporated into the training manual and inform further planning and monitoring.

The Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) is a four-year (2015-2019) joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The project is being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

GLO.ACT aims to provide assistance to governmental authorities and civil society organizations across 13 strategically selected countries: Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, South Africa, Ukraine.  GLO.ACT works with the 13 countries to plan and implement strategic national counter-trafficking and counter smuggling efforts through a prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships approach. It supports the development of more effective responses to trafficking and smuggling, including providing assistance to victims of trafficking and vulnerable migrants through the strengthening of identification, referral, and direct support mechanisms.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Souphavone Dalavong

Email: sdalavong@unicef.org

www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/glo-act/

Email:  glo.act@un.org

Twitter:  @glo_act