Operations of Strategic Importance
Strengthening the Social Welfare Services (SWS)
Policy Objective 4
A more Social and Inclusive Europe
Social Inclusion and Social Inclusion
The Social Welfare Services (SWS) Restructuring Project pertains to the modernisation of the Services, aiming to provide accessible, readily available, friendly and personalised social services for the holistic support of individuals and families, in a person-centred, multidisciplinary and effective manner. The primary goal of the restructuring is to strengthen and safeguard the rights of vulnerable individuals at high risk of social exclusion, improve their standard of living and help them develop to their full potential, with a view to achieving social integration.
The main Actions that will be undertaken in the framework of the SWS Restructuring Project are as follows:
- Modernise the organisation, methods and working principles of the SWS.
- Upgrade the computerised system to support the operations of the SWS.
- Train the Officers and management executives of the SWS through targeted needs-based training programmes in four (4) thematic modules: management (leadership and management skills), problem analysis and solving, human resource management and strategic planning.
- Establish a call centre with a nationwide hotline offering 24-hour service.
- Employ Social Workers in communities or community clusters and Local Government Authorities (LGAs).
- Secure the services of professional Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Social Needs Assessors through a call for tender, in order to establish a list for the purchase of services from professionals in the areas of work of the Social Welfare Services, aiming to enhance multidisciplinary/cross-disciplinary intervention.
- Secure the services of Escorts/Mentors for children and Escorts for persons with disabilities through a call for tender, in order to establish a list for the purchase of such services.
- Secure services from professionals for the provision of professional supervision to SWS Officers through a call for tender, in order to establish a list for the purchase of such services, with the aim of creating a safe support framework for problems that professional SWS Officers may encounter in their daily duties and assisting in emotional expression and the management of personal difficulties related to the handling of difficult cases. The ultimate goal is to enhance the quality of the outcomes for those receiving service, their carers and/or families, as well as the staff of the SWS.
- Carry out a study on the child protection system in Cyprus, as well as draft and implement a National Strategy and Action Plan for Child Protection.
In respect of Action (3), the call was announced in August 2023 and tender evaluation is currently under way.
In respect of Action (5), this began around mid-March 2023 with the implementation of the “Neighbourhood Social Worker” Pilot Programme, where the first trainings of the Programme team (composed of front-line Social Workers and Social Workers involved in supervision and administrative support) took place. The purpose of the trainings is to ensure more efficient cooperation between the Programme team and the SWS.
In April 2023, all stakeholders taking part in the pilot programme started providing services and relevant trainings/meetings continued both in the local authorities and at the offices of the SWS, to ensure ongoing briefing/training, progress monitoring and the smooth implementation of the programme. On 4/5/2023, a Press Conference was held to publicise the launch of the programme. Initial consultations with the Unions of Communities and Municipalities were also conducted to discuss the geographical reach of the programme after the completion of the pilot phase.
Moreover, in respect of Action (6) and Action (7) on strengthening the multidisciplinary approach, the establishment of the lists for the purchase of services from professional Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Social Needs Assessors and from Escorts/Mentors respectively has been completed and the relevant Framework Agreements have been signed. The implementation of the programmes has already begun and the following actions are expected to be taken: (a) find additional professionals to fully meet the needs of the SWS and, (b) improve the efficiency of existing services.
Action (8) was launched in January 2022 and the provision of supervision to Officers who have expressed an interest in this service has continued throughout 2023. Further strengthening of the programme is also expected in 2023.
The remaining Actions are in the final stages of planning and preparation of the relevant tender documents.
The Project’s Actions are expected to contribute to the modernisation of the SWS, through the improvement and upgrade of its organisational and operational system, to ensure greater efficiency and performance. The benefits from the Project’s implementation include enhancing both the accessibility and availability of the SWS for citizens and the efficiency of the services provided.