Development and Challenges of Social Work in Georgia

30 Apr, 2015

Social work is not a new, though less developed field in Georgia. This is a profession aimed at improving the welfare of individuals and society and creating an environment where all people can demonstrate their abilities.

In many developed countries social workers have serious influence on Country’s politics and are reformers and initiators of social changes.

Although social work is an evolving field in Georgia, it is an integral part of a number of successful reforms and it is one of the leading levers. Child welfare reform in Georgia has been carried out by the social workers, due to which Georgia has become kind of a role model in the whole region and which was recently mentioned in the Council of Europe as well. Establishment and development of social work led to the prison reform, which was an important step forward in the movement towards humanizing this system.

Georgian Association of Social Workers has been established 10 years ago. International conference dedicated to the 10th Anniversary of the Georgian Association of Social Workers has been attended by representatives of the Government, NGOs, international organizations and representatives of the Association of Social Workers from the Caucasus. Development of social work and associated challenges has been discussed during the meeting. The conference has been held with the support of Open Society Georgia Foundation.

The agenda consisted of plenary sessions and three parallel sessions. During the plenary session, participants discussed the role of the Association of Social Workers in strengthening the social work profession, as well as the challenges in the field of social work in the South Caucasus region. Memorandum was signed between the Associations of Social Workers of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Sessions have been dedicated to mental health and disability social work, social work in child welfare and juvenile justice systems and international experience. Presentations have been made by representatives of the Association of Social Workers from Turkey, Germany, Sweden and Portugal.

The first program supported by Open Society Georgia Foundation for strengthening the social work was an education program. Social Work Scholarship Program of OSGF funded the first graduates in the field of the social work. From 2000 until 2011, more than 25 Georgians received master’s degree in leading universities of the US. After returning in Georgia, these students began training in social work at the universities of Georgia, established the Association of Social Workers, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

In 2007, the first academic program for social workers has been established with the support of OSGF.

In addition, several important surveys on the development of social work have been conducted with the support of Open Society Georgia Foundation.