The institute of social work is relatively not new in Armenia, but still needs vital improvements both in terms of systems and legislation, and actual quality of the work provided. The workshop invited by World Vision in Armenia and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs brought together all the stakeholders to discuss issues in the field and come up with ideas for changes and improvements.
“Curren¬tly the social worker’s institute is being established in Armenia, and this is very important. I am sure that thanks to the discussions during this workshop we will be able to come up with the solutions that will enable us to enhance the role of the social worker as well as to have the institute of the social work fully established,” said Artem Asatryan, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in Armenia.
Topics suggested for discussion included mobilization of resources, the enhancement of the social worker’s role, social workers’ professional difficulties in practice, methods and toolkit for social case management, specifics of the social work in the communities. Social workers all over Armenia joined the workshop to raise their voice and offer solutions. “This has never happened in Armenia’s reality to bring the social workers all together and giving them an opportunity to directly discuss their professional issues on the highest possible platform,” says Aida Muradyan, World Vision Armenia’s Child Protection Programmes Manager.
In Armenia there exists a three-tier child protection system; two of them being National Child Protection Committee and the Child Protection Units in the regional administrations of the country. The community child protection body is the Guardianship and Trusteeship Committees, where the community social workers are involved. The Government of Armenia has also inserted Integrated Social Centres in Armenia back in 2013, to have all social services provided to population ‘under one roof’, these are sub-regional bodies that need to be working hand-in-hand with community social workers to provide comprehensive and unified social support to children living in vulnerable situations.
Within such a complex system social workers who manage individual social cases, hugely struggle because of a number of issues varying from lack of methodology and toolkit to lack of proper office facilities where the privacy talk with the beneficiaries can be hold, as well as their professional and personal security while dealing with marginalized groups.
The one issue social workers were voicing was the low awareness of the population about the role of a social worker and the role’s responsibility. People in Armenia normally either don’t recognize the specialties of the social workers’ role or refer to the social worker as a person to support with receiving state allowances or pensions.
“We need to reassure that social worker is not just for supporting with the state allowance or documentation for the people in need. These are professionals who help people in need to stand up and walk on their own. The role of the social worker is far wider than just support with this or that allowance, it is more of a guiding role,” said Mira Antonyan, Executive Director for Fund for Armenia’s Relief Children’s Centre in Armenia.