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Tonia O. Alabi
I start my writing with an expressed appreciation for all who have been working for the good of the Child with Special Needs and providing support for their families. The contributions of all in the provision of love and care for this children and young ones, and their families has quite filled in the gap that would have been, because of the lack of Public Social Workers especially in our African countries.
The issue of the lack of governmental support for the larger number of those who actually need the services of the social worker is one that is quite worrying and disappointing, but the rise of some good spirited people in our nations has kind of reduced the impact of this insensitivity of our governments. Nevertheless, it is worthy to mention that no number of individuals and private organisations can duely fill up the gap. Hence our cry for Governments of African countries to step up their game and take charge of their citizens including children and people with special needs by the provision of bill, budgets and monitoring systems that will empower, encourage and increase the number of social workers employed in the Public Health sector where most of this children are delivered.
Food for Thought:
In the preceding article, I brought to light the insufficiency in the provision of social workers by the governments of African nations and how the Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have tried to fill the gap which in all sincerity they can’t because of obvious reasons.
The creation of Social Welfare Departments to register and monitor the activities of the NGOs providing support in various ways to the special needs people is not as effective as developing the Social Work profession as we have done with Public Health sector in terms of training and employment. The educational development of people who would want to go into the profession of Social Work needs to be encouraged, government scholarships for well scrutinized people will do a lot to increase the number of Social Workers to work in different fields of social work. Social work offers opportunities to work in many different settings such as Government agencies, schools or hospitals.
Looking at the rate at which the number of children and people with special needs is going on the increase due to changing life style, social and economic issues, tragedies resulting from political revolutions and insurgencies it has become very important for African governments look into the issues of provision and empowerment of the Social Work units within the Health sector.
In my search during the preparation for the 2020 Coat of Many Colours Africa (CoMCA) Enlightenment Programme , I found out that the United States of America Bureau of Labour Statistics projects an 11% increase in Social Workers employment between 2018 – 28 (www.socialworklicensure.org). So with the cooperation of the Association of Social Workers and the Universities backed by political will of the Governments of Africa we can do better in the provision of this very much needed professionals to reduce the burden on the families and society at large. We cannot depend so much on the NGOs and individuals who have committed their lives, time and money to the people with special needs in our societies.
Many of the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are doing well, this we agree, but the problem is where does the work of an NGO come to an end with a child or person under their care, for the introduction of the next most needed support to give the child/ person progress and opportunity to develop his or her potential. Especially in the case of children with mental and learning or physical challenges such as autism and dyslexia and other manageable conditions. Who monitors the progress of the child and family psychologically and sociologically to determine when the child can be moved into a mainstream educational system. This is also important for the social development of the child as a person and a relief for the family.
This issue is very pertinent for us at the CoMCA as we believe some children have been unnecessarily limited due to lack of knowledge on the part of their parents, who feel the child has been given the best opportunity by the first support provider, or they think they have already gotten the burden of caring and nurturing the child off their shoulders and do not see beyond the level of support they are getting for their child in the present.
Some parents who feel their child deserves more and better are silenced or confused to think what they seem to be wishing for is not possible or available. This we have witnessed. An educable child could be trapped in a special school just for minor learning challenges which could be due to a mild eye impairment or even the inability of someone to take charge in the absence of one of the parent. The intervention of a social worker could help alleviate or reduce the problem of this child and family, by recommendation or link to experts for a diagnostic test that could reveal the real situation and learning needs of the child as well as support the child in a mainstream school. It could mean the social worker would have to train the child on how to behave in the public and among peers, and monitor child’s progress with teachers. This helps in the development of the confidence of child and parents and acceptability by society.
In essence, the development of Social Work as a profession is important and specialization is key to meet the diverse needs of their clients. We are all stakeholders, we have the responsibility to support the cause of our children and people with special needs in a progressive manner so that they are liberated to fulfil their destiny and be productive citizens of our Nations. Africa! Wake up.
We organise programmes that aim at enlightening stakeholders in charge of raising children and persons who would be confident in their display of potentials and God-given talents.
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We are able to arrange for relevant practitioners to carry out assessment and evaluation of a child’s intellectual ability as well as that of the workforce.
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We organise seminars, workshops and activities that educate the parents and educators on various developmental issues affecting the industry.
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The Centre is conceived to be an all-inclusive skill acquisition vocation and personal development centre. Anyone who desires to learn a vocation and/or develop entrepreneurial skill especially children and people with mild physical
or mental/learning challenges.
This has become necessary because we found out that we are in an age of inclusion. Most private vocation centres rarely want to accept students with challenges or learning difficulty even as we are in an age of inclusion in the education sector.
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People get involved by helping to spread awareness, raise donations and volunteering their skills.