UNICEF / Ghana - Development of a Mapping and Directory of Services and District Based Referral System for inclusive access to social protection services
With the need to reduce inequalities and protect the wellbeing of children, the Government of Ghana specifically the Office of the Head of Local Government Service, and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, in partnership with UNICEF, sought to establish a functioning welfare system to protect children and vulnerable populations from harm. The social service workforce in Ghana comprises formal and informal actors, government and non-government, paid and unpaid, which makes it difficult to efficiently provide services such as family support, early intervention, and alternative care for children in need of care and protection.
Nevertheless, compared to other developing countries, Ghana has a developed social welfare infrastructure, which provides services at the regional and district level through local government authorities and non-governmental organizations. The Government's support in improving social inclusion through training programs such as the “Social Welfare and Community Development Class” is highly commendable.
However, the social welfare workforce is highly uncoordinated due to its decentralized nature. The responsibility of the social protection services is blurred between the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development (DSW/CD) at the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembly (MMDAs) levels. Additionally, the gaps of professionalism and low rate of professionals in the social welfare sector contributes to little resource allocation, low level of accountability, and limited access to training programmes. It also affects the ability of social welfare officers to provide the health, psychological, and social support the vulnerable children deserve.
To strengthen the DSW/CD in performing their responsibilities in a systemic and well-coordinated manner, a formal referral and case management system was required at the district level. With such a system, there is an easy collaboration between social service officers based in other sectors, inclusive access to social protection services, and easy tracking of the beneficiaries.
The design and development of the referral and case management system was contracted to Bewsys by UNICEF and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. In satisfying the requirements needed to create the referral system, the technical team collated the data of all social welfare protection agencies from different key stakeholders across health, police, judiciary, and social protection systems.
This data formed the foundation in creating a user-friendly directory of each facility which provided essential contact information for easy identification within a specified district, and access to the services they provide.
Based on field research conducted by the technical consulting team, the social protection services were classified into: health, social protection, child protection, sexual and gender-based violence, mental health, and psychosocial support.
The service mapping and service directory, and the district-based referral system were tailored based on the registration, report generation, case management, and system administration modules of the Bewsys Social Protection MIS.
The referral system was designed to feature all district-level social welfare services mapped throughout the country, and a referral pathway for each category of vulnerable children. (i.e. poor children, children without parental care, survivors of child trafficking, and gender-based violence). Throughout the design and development process, the team considered strategies that require low effort and low-cost methods, to make the directory available to social workers in low-resource settings.
In working with enumerators, Bewsys collected data from all the stakeholders across the country to populate the directory.
Information about social welfare services and agencies in all the 322 districts across all the regions in Ghana are available in the directory deployed by Bewsys. This progress is a step in preventing sexual and gender-based violence, protecting the overall well-being of vulnerable populations, and enhancing the administration of social welfare services in Ghana.
According to a Social Welfare Service Workforce Capacity Assessment report in 2020, data suggests that more social workers go out to communities to identify children and other vulnerable individuals or groups in need of support. The district referral system has supported the processes involved in addressing the wide gap between the number of children in need of social protection services and the limited number of social workers.
Progressively, the service mapping directory deployed in Ghana is gradually enabling social workers to deliver the right services to vulnerable individuals and households. The system continues to support the government of Ghana and social protection agencies to progress in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs), especially good health and wellbeing, ending poverty, and reducing inequalities.