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Definitions

This glossary of definitions has been compiled to assist in discussions of international social work and social welfare, bringing together a list of terms often used in international development and humanitarian aid circles. A critical element in working across disciplines is having a common understanding of terms and language used. This is not an exhaustive listing, but serves as a working document. 

ACCREDITATION
The acknowledgment and verification that an organization (such as an educational institution, social agency, hospital, or skilled-nursing facility) fulfills explicitly specified standards (Barker, 2003).

CERTIFICATION
An official assurance that someone or something possesses the attributes he, she, or it claims to have.  Legal certification of a profession is the warranting by a state that the people certified have attained a specified level of knowledge and skill.  Professional certification is such warranting by a professional association.  Certification typically does not prohibit uncertified people from engaging in the specified activity (as does a license), but it prevents their use of the title “certified.”  Certification is usually considered to be a stronger form of regulation than registration of social workers but weaker than licensure (Barker, 2003).

CHILD PROTECTION:  The measures and structures put in place to prevent and to respond to abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence affecting children. (CPC Synthesis Report, 2008.

CLUSTER APPROACH
A system-wide approach to preparedness for humanitarian emergencies that ensures there will be predictable leadership, accountability, and partnership in all main sectors or areas of humanitarian response.  Agencies are designated as “cluster leads” in the areas of nutrition, health, water/sanitation, emergency shelter, camp coordination/management, protection, early recovery, logistics, and emergency telecommunications (Inter-Agency Standing Committee, 2006).

CODE OF ETHICS
A Code of Ethics is intended to serve as a guide to the everyday professional conduct of social workers (e.g., NASW’s Code of Ethics: http://www.naswdc.org/pubs/code/default.asp) and delineates the standards and principles that guide the conduct and professional practice of social workers.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Efforts made by professionals and community residents to enhance the social bonds among members of the community, motivate the citizens for self-help, develop responsible leadership, and create or revitalize local institutions.  Community development workers have been active in many parts of the world at least since the 1920s, especially in consciousness raising, helping community residents achieve greater collective participation, and developing local leadership.  In the United States, community development workers have worked especially in underdeveloped rural settings and poor urban neighborhoods to facilitate residents’ collaboration in increasing influence, self-sufficiency, and economic and educational opportunities (Barker, 2003).

COMMUNITY WORKER
Community workers act as a source of information and advice to individuals and communities. They advocate on behalf of community members and work to develop community-based services, such as improved literacy services, financial advisory services and help for migrants, access to social support and health services (Western Australian Department of Education and Training, 2005).

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER
Community health workers (CHWs) are lay members of communities who work either for pay or as volunteers in association with the local health care system in both urban and rural environments. The World Health Organization maintains that community health workers should be members of the communities where they work, should be selected by the communities, should be answerable to the communities for their activities, should be supported by the health system but not necessarily a part of its organization, and have shorter training than professional workers.

They usually share ethnicity, language, socio-economic status and life experiences with the community members they serve. CHWs can offer interpretation and translation services, provide culturally appropriate health education and information, assist people in receiving the care they need, give informal counseling and guidance on health behaviors, advocate for individual and community health needs, and provide some direct services such as first aid and blood pressure screening. (WHO, Community health workers brief; also see HRSA).

CONTINUING EDUCATION
Training taken by social workers and other professionals who have already completed the formal education required to enter their field.  Most professions require their members to keep up with the current knowledge base by participating in specified additional training within certain time limits.  For example, state licensing boards for social workers may require them to obtain a specific number of continuing education units (CEUs) by successfully completing qualified academic or professional courses.  Some consider staff development to be a part of continuing education (Barker, 2003).

CONTINUING EDUCATION UNITS (CEUs)
Continuing education units, a specific amount and type of formal education required by certain professional associations, state licensing authorities, and employers to demonstrate that the professional is keeping current in relevant knowledge.  For example, attending a three-hour workshop at a professional conference that is recognized or accredited by the authority might allow a social worker to earn CEUs counting toward their continuing education requirements (Barker, 2003).

CREDENTIAL
Documentation indicating that the practitioner has fulfilled specified requirements and is recognized by the credentialing authority as having achieved advanced levels of professional experience and proficiency.  It is the term most often used to refer to voluntary recognitions from professional associations.  Credentialing programs serve to promote the profession and the professional holding them as having demonstrated knowledge, abilities, and achievement beyond the minimum competency requirements to become licensed (Barker, 2003).

CULTURAL COMPETENCE
Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system or agency or among professionals and enable the system, agency, or professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations (NASW, 2000).  Social workers through their code of ethics are committed to understand culture, its functions and strengths, as well as the nature of social diversity and oppression of different cultural groups.

DISASTER ASSISTANCE
Efforts and activities to provide immediate refuge and security from the continuing physical and emotional risks encountered in a disaster; also the work toward restoring the social and physical structures that had previously existed to meet essential needs (Barker, 2003).

GENDER AUDITS
Tools intended to examine the extent to which gender equality is central to all programs and policies of an organization.  Gender audits enhance the collective capacity of an organization to examine its activities from a gender perspective, identify strengths and weaknesses in promoting gender equality issues, help to build organizational ownership for gender equality initiatives, and sharpen organizational learning on gender through a process of team-building, information sharing, and reflection (International Labour Office, 2009).    

HUMANITARIAN AID
Action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of emergencies (Good Humanitarian Donorship, 2003). It addresses the immediate needs of individuals affected by crises and is provided mainly by non-governmental and international organizations .

IN-SERVICE TRAINING
An educational program for employees, provided by an employer and usually carried out by a supervisor or specialist, designed to help employees become more productive and effective in accomplishing a specific tast or meeting the overall objectives of the organization.  Usually in-service training takes place after an employee begins work responsibilities, is done on the job for short periods of time, and during a break in the employee's work schedule (SIL International, 1999; Barker, 2003).

PEPFAR Definition of in-service training: In-service training programs are for practicing providers to refresh skills and knowledge or add new material and examples of best practices needed to fulfill their current job responsibilities. In-service training may update existing knowledge and skills, or add new ones. Care should be taken to base trainee selection on content and skill needs. It requires a shorter, more focused period of time than pre-service education, and is often more “hands-on.” It can be a workplace activity (led by staff, peers or guest lecturers) or an external event. In-service training can occur through structured learning and follow-up activities, or through less structured means, to solve problems or fill identified performance gaps. In-service training can consist of short non-degree technical courses in academic or in other settings, non-academic seminars, workshops, on-the-job learning experiences, observational study tours, or distance learning exercises or interventions. An in-service training program must meet national or international standards and have specific learning objectives, a course curriculum, expected knowledge, skills, and competencies to be gained by participants, as well as documented minimum requirements for course completion (PEPFAR, 2009).

LICENSURE
Professional licensing for a given professional group such as doctors and social workers.  Licensure is typically the strongest form of regulation that the state can implement and has legal implications.  Licensure is a tool to protect the public, patients and clients from unscrupulous or poorly trained professionals providing services for which they have no education or training (NASW, 2008).

Non-Governmental Organizations
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are private or non-profit institutions and agencies that work to serve some public interest independently from a national or local government entity.  NGOs often seek to improve social problems that exist internationally; enhance the rights, knowledge, and economic opportunities of all people; and help nations and cultures in development efforts (Barker, 2003).

PARAPROFESSIONAL
One who has specialized knowledge and technical training who works closely with and is supervised by a professional. Paraprofessionals perform many tasks.  Paralegals, physician’s assistants(PA’s), andsocial work associates are examples of paraprofessionals (Barker, 2003).

PARA-SOCIAL WORKER
A group of supervised paraprofessional staff and volunteers – often community based – which serves the needs of children and families, particularly where social welfare systems are underdeveloped or severely stretched (Children & Youth Services Review, 2010).

PEPFAR definition: “Para-social workers” and social support workers are defined as receiving anything from a few days of training up to 6 months of training. There is no exclusion for unpaid workers. “Para-social workers” often work under the supervision of a professional social worker, nurse, or physician (PEPFAR, 2009).

PRE-SERVICE TRAINING
Pre-service training is education and/or training which takes place before a person takes up a job which requires specific knowledge. Pre-service training may be provided by professionals, institutions, or individuals with recognized experience working with a course curriculum designed to enhance the participant’s knowledge, skills and competencies.  Successful completion of training is indicated by the achievement of specified learning objectives (NASW, 2010).

PEPFAR Definition of pre-service: Pre-service training institutions are university-based or affiliated schools of medicine, nursing, public health, social work, laboratory science, pharmacy, and other health-related fields. Non-professional or paraprofessional training would be any accredited and nationally recognized pre-service program that is a requirement for this cadre’s entry into the workforce. The duration of training must meet or exceed a minimum of 6 months.  Pre-service training program must be nationally accredited, or at the minimum meet national and international standards. The program must also have specific learning objectives, a course curriculum, expected knowledge, skills, and competencies to be gained by participants, as well as documented minimum requirements for course completion. Successful completion of training may be documented by diploma or certificate (PEPFAR, 2009).

WHO Definition of pre-service: “Pre-service” refers to activities which take place before a person takes up a job which requires specific training, i.e. before a person ‘enters service’. Properly speaking, also courses for graduates, in addition to those for undergraduates, are ‘pre-service courses’ if they provide the competence needed to perform new ‘services’.  The expressions “pre-service education” or “pre-service training” are used to refer to any structured activity aiming at developing or reinforcing knowledge and skills before a health care professional enters public health service or private practice (World Health Organization, 2004).

PSYCHOSOCIAL APPROACH
The psychosocial approach is a distinctive practice model that is widely used by social work practitioners.  It focuses on the study, diagnosis (assessment) and treatment of individuals in transaction with their social environments.  Its goals are to restore, maintain and enhance the social functioning of individuals by mobilizing strengths, supporting coping capacities, modifying dysfunctional patterns of relating and acting, linking people to necessary resources and alleviating environmental stressors (NASW, 2008).

PRIVATE VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
Private voluntary organizations (PVOs) are nongovernmental, not-for-profit entities that are tax exempt, solicit and receive cash contributions from the general public, and engage in foreign aid, assistance and development internationally (USAID, 2009).

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Planned comprehensive social change designed to improve people’s general welfare incorporating community development, remedial social services and a dynamic process of economic development. The focus of social development is generally to achieve the social advancement of both the individual and societal institutions (Baker, 2003 & Midgley, 1995).  The United Nations definition includes programs focused on poverty eradication, health, education, social integration of marginalized populations as well as crime prevention and drug control under social development (UN, 2008).

SOCIAL WELFARE
A nation’s system of programs, benefits and services that help people meet those social, economic, educational, and health needs that are fundamental to the maintenance of society (Barker, 2003).

SOCIAL WELFARE WORKFORCE
The workforce that helps people meet their social, economic, educational and health needs, and works for the collective well-being of a community or nation.  Typically such a workforce is made up of social workers, para-social workers, direct service workers, community workers, community development workers, and administrators. Sometimes health workers, particularly at the community level, educators, and income support specialists are considered as part of the social welfare workforce.  There are a number of additional occupational titles that vary by country that are a typical part of the social welfare workforce (NASW, 2010).

SOCIAL WORKER
Graduates of schools of social work (in the U.S.A. with either bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees) who use their knowledge and skills to provide social services for clients (who may be individuals, families, groups, communities, organizations, or society in general).  Social workers help people increase their capacities for problem solving and coping, and they help them obtain needed resources, facilitate interactions between individuals and between people and their environments, make organizations responsible to people, and influence social policies. Social workers may work directly with clients addressing individual, family and community issues, or they may work at a systems level on regulations and policy development, or as administrators and planners of large social service systems (Barker, 2003).

PEPFAR definition of professional social worker: Professional social workers generally have 4-7 years of training, and have completed undergraduate and/or graduate training in social work and are nationally recognized as a professional social worker (PEPFAR, 2009).

SOCIAL WORK ASSOCIATE
Members of the social work teamwho perform a specific task when so assigned by the professional social worker-team leader.  Social work associates are similar to case aides,although the range of their activities can go beyond work on a specific case (Barker, 2003).

STAFF DEVELOPMENT
Activities and programs within an organization designed to enhance the abilities of personnel to fulfill the existing and changing requirements of their jobs.  These activities often include short-term in-service training classes, distribution of relevant information, group conferences, use of outside consultants and speakers to meet with personnel, and funding of certain employees to participate in meetings or training programs outside the organization.  Staff development, although usually related to the requirements of the employer, also helps personnel improve overall career objectives and opportunities.  It also helps the organization attract and keep competent personnel and clarify and “humanize” the organization (Barker, 2003).

COMMUNITY WORKER
Community workers act as a source of information and advice to individuals and communities. They advocate on behalf of community members and work to develop community-based services, such as improved literacy services, financial advisory services and help for migrants, access to social support and health services (Western Australian Department of Education and Training, 2005).

CONTINUING EDUCATION
Training taken by social workers and other professionals who have already completed the formal education required to enter their field.  Most professions require their members to keep up with the current knowledge base by participating in specified additional training within certain time limits.  For example, state licensing boards for social workers may require them to obtain a specific number of CEUs (continuing education units) by successfully completing qualified academic or professional courses.  Some consider staff development to be a part of continuing education (Barker, 2003).

CONTINUING EDUCATION UNITS (CEUs)
Continuing education units, a specific amount and type of formal education required by certain professional associations, state licensing authorities, and employers to demonstrate that the professional is keeping current in relevant knowledge.  For example, attending a three-hour workshop at a professional conference that is recognized or accredited by the authority might “earn” a social worker there CEUs to be counted toward continuing education requirements (Barker, 2003).

CREDENTIAL
Documentation indicating that the practitioner has fulfilled specified requirements and is recognized by the credentialing authority as having achieved advanced levels of professional experience and proficiency.  It is the term most often used to refer to voluntary recognitions from professional associations.  Credentialing programs serve to promote the profession and the professional holding them as having demonstrated knowledge, abilities, and achievement beyond the minimum competency requirements to become licensed (Barker, 2003).

CULTURAL COMPETENCE
Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system or agency or among professionals and enable the system, agency, or professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations (NASW, 2000).  Social workers through their code of ethics are committed to understand culture, its functions and strengths, as well as the nature of social diversity and oppression of different cultural groups.

DISASTER ASSISTANCE
Efforts and activities to provide immediate refuge and security from the continuing physical and emotional risks encountered in a disaster, and also the work toward restoring the social and physical structures that had previously existed to meet essential needs (Barker, 2003).

GENDER AUDITS
Tools intended to examine the extent to which gender equality is central to all programs and policies of an organization.  Gender audits enhance the collective capacity of an organization to examine its activities from a gender perspective, identify strengths and weaknesses in promoting gender equality issues, help to build organizational ownership for gender equality initiatives, and sharpen organizational learning on gender through a process of team-building, information sharing, and reflection (International Labour Office, 2007).    

HUMANITARIAN AID
It is action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of emergencies (Good Humanitarian Donorship, 2003). It addresses the immediate needs of individuals affected by crises and is provided mainly by non-governmental and international organizations (UNHCR).

 

 
   
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