The Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection has launched the Social Services Directory, a tool that forms part of the implementation of the Integrated Social Services Initiative to strengthen inter-sectoral collaboration for efficient service delivery to vulnerable populations.
It also launched the Inter-sectoral Standard Operating Procedure (ISSOP) and the Social Welfare Information Management System (SWIMS), which would help address multi-dimensional poverty and vulnerability in the society.
The tools were launched in collaboration with the Office of the Head of Local Government Service, and the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, with funding from UNICEF.
SWIMS is a case management information system used to facilitate information sharing, referrals, monitoring and reporting between various actors and levels of governance.
It adopted a software called “Primero,” which was developed by UNICEF, and had default features, standard forms, access controls, geographical naming conventions and reporting dashboards, among other things, with Ghana being the first country, globally, to run the software’s latest version; the “Primero X”.
Mrs Sarah Adwoa Safo, the sector Minister, said the tools were to equip social workers and social service providers to render quality services to vulnerable children and families, with a strong focus on promoting linkages between health, child protection, sexual and gender-based violence, and social protection services.
“They would also focus on referral and standard procedures for domestic based violence, teen pregnancy and child marriage, children in conflict with the law/ juvenile justice, children outside of parental or relative care and abandonment, child labour and trafficking, child maintenance and custody and finally, to the key social services for LEAP households and other vulnerable families,” she said.
“Government expects all social welfare and community development officers as well as partners to adopt and use these tools for the management of cases, family reunification, alternative Care, information-sharing, incident monitoring and reporting.”
Mrs Safo said, in that regard, the Ministry and its stakeholders had trained 993 officers from 100 district assemblies to help in the usage of the tools, who had, so far, entered 1,910 cases from their various agencies.
She said the development of those tools were timely, as they would ensure minimum standard of operating procedure, easy linkages among stakeholders, and ensure security and confidentiality.
Nana Ato Arthur, the Head of the Office of Local Government Service, said SWIMS helped to ensure international best practices.
“The system lends itself for the data of a client to be stored and retrieved as and when necessary. Data retrieval again permits the smooth case management by officers irrespective of who started a particular case and who closes it…” he said, adding that currently 60 MMDAs had been trained to use the SWIMS.
Nana Arthur said the ISSOP was also a procedure where the Department of Social Welfare and community development partners worked with other entities to address issues of domestic violence, child abuse, child marriage, defilement, and rape among other cases, with inherent referral pathways, which basically directed officers to procedures for the resolution of the cases.
He appealed to stakeholders to configure the SWIMS system to ensure monitoring by the Regional Co-ordinating Councils of what was keyed in for the utmost security and data protection.
Madam Anne-Claire Dufay, the UNICEF Country Representative in Ghana, said the tools effectively supported Ghana’s strategic vision in relation to decentralization.
She said they were even more relevant today as Ghana and the world were struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, with children also suffering the brunt, hence the need to strengthen the systems to respond to all of their multiple needs.