WHAT WE DO
Twinning for health support initiative – Nigeria (THSI-N) is a local Nigerian partner organization of American International Health Alliance (AIHA) working to bridge the gap in health and social welfare practice in Nigeria. Since 2009 it had focused on health and social welfare workforce strengthening to meet the needs of an over-burdened social welfare system and a growing OVC population, to better access society and community support for caregivers, vulnerable children and their families.
Since 2009, AIHA/THSI has been building the capacity of Local Government social welfare officers, community volunteers, NGO’s and OVC care givers to better access community and system support for vulnerable children and their families through the creation of a para-social worker (PSW – now known as Auxiliary Social Work (ASW)) pre-service training program. As a community-based cadre of lay professionals, ASWs receive basic foundational skills in social service delivery for OVCs that enable trainees to broadly access communities, triage care, and effectively provide basic support to children in need. In low-resource settings where HIV prevalence is high, community-based caregivers represent an untapped resource for addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children.
ASW Training Program provides skills-based training in social work case management and child development to caregivers, introduces key social work concepts and teaches practical skills in outreach and client identification, needs assessment, case management, child development, resource linkages, family support, counselling, on-going service coordination, and avoiding professional burnout. Upon completion of the introductory course, participants undergo six months of supervised field work and mentoring before taking a follow-up course that focuses on specialized skills related to caring for vulnerable children and families. The program has trained and certified over 1500 trainees since its inception in 2009. In collaboration with local stakeholders, THSI-N and our partners have also developed a four-day ASW Supervisors Course that trains selected individuals in key supervisory skills needed to assume oversight of ASWs at the community level. The
Lack of appropriate and adequate equipment and facilities had always been a great challenge for institutions offering social work studies. This is because of the ever evolving nature of social work practice and the need to meet up with current trends in the field.
THSI is bridging this gap by strengthening training institutions of social work and making available current updates in areas of social services. Piloting with two institutions: Benue State University, Makurdi, Benue State and Federal School of Social Work, Emene, Enugu, in 2017 with support from CDC Nigeria, THSI provided sets of ICT equipment: Projector and Screen, Laptop, All in one Printer, Generator, UPS, Desktop Computers, Chairs, Desk, LCD Television and Flip Chart Board to the schools through the funding from CDC Nigeria.
THSI has also supported two Learning Resource Centres (LRCs) at UNN and FSSW which have operated over the last three years. THSI’s Learning Resources Program is a coordinated set of strategies designed to assist partner institutions and professionals to provide quality care and assistance to needy patients. The program supplies faculty, working health professionals and students with up-to-date knowledge resources, while helping these individuals to build new skills that are rooted in evidence-based practice. Social work faculty and students continue to utilize the LRCs to submit information requests, access online and offline learning resources, and use the LRC computer workstations for professional activities and communication.
THSI-N in close collaboration with governments and educational institutions around the country to build sustainable human resource and institutional capacity to effectively address community health and social support needs. THSI-N is partnering with Local Government Social Welfare Departments, States and Federal ministries of women affairs and social development to train its workforce in current trends in the field of social work practice, especially those without an academic background in the field. Over the years, more than many social welfare staffs at the federal, state and local government levels have been trained in current trends in social welfare practice.
THSI led the development, validation and adoption of ASW curriculum. This has ensured that a uniform standard is used nationwide for the ASW training. To integrate all social work degree awarding institutions into the mainstream of international best practices, THSI Nigeria worked with stakeholders of social work including the National Universities Commission, Nigerian Association of Social Workers and Nigerian Association of Social Work Educators, to harmonize the training curriculum for Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work and development of the post graduate curriculum.
THSI has been in the front burner in promoting social work practice in Nigeria. Working with local member associations —the Nigeria Association of Social Workers (NASOW), Nigeria Association of Social Worker Educators (NASWE) and some donor agencies (UNICEF, USAID CDC etc), it led the bill to professionalize social work, encouraged universities and polytechnics round the country to adopt and run social work studies.
It has ensured that this growing cadre of community-level caregivers (ASW’s) are included in new national social work legislation. THSI-N is focused on expanding opportunities for social work in Nigeria and helping to establish a National Social Work Council to regulate professional practice. The establishment of this council, which will be a semi-autonomous government entity, is critical to ensuring all the components of THSI’s Social Work and OVC Support Initiative are sustained well into the future.