DSWD chief’s lack of awareness on social worker shortage shocks Sen. Pia
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Pia Cayetano was shocked on Wednesday as Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Erwin Tulfo lacked information on social worker shortage.
During the Senate finance subcommittee hearing on DSWD’s 2023 budget, presided over by Senator Imee Marcos, Cayetano inquired if the agency has coordinated with the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to address social worker shortage.
“Mr. Secretary, I’m sure you also have been made aware by now that we have a shortage of social workers. Have you made coordinations with CHEd particularly on the schools, the supply side, on having enough programs to come up with graduates of social work to be able to fill these very important positions?” the senator quizzed.
Tulfo answered: “I’ll look into that, madam chair, your honor, to your question, your honor, regarding the shortage. But now I’m not aware that we do have a shortage of social workers.
“But this is my plan, your honor, madam chair, within the next few years or months, if we will have a recruitment or job openings, I will definitely be looking for social workers, madam chair, your honor.”
After hearing Tulfo’s response, Cayetano was left surprised.
“Madam chairperson, I just want to express na nagulat naman ako d’un sa staff niyo, Mr. Secretary. Kasi I recognize na you just assumed office, wala naman pong problema ‘yun, pero nagugulat po ako na hindi nakarating sa inyo, hindi nagparating sa inyo ng staff niyo na napakalaking problema natin ang shortage ng social workers,” she said.
(Madam chairperson, I just want to express that I’m shocked with your staff, Mr. Secretary. I recognize that you just assumed office, there’s no problem with that, but I’m shocked that your staff did not tell you that we have a huge problem with shortage of social workers.)
The DSWD chief then assured Cayetano that they will talk with CHEd in a bid to increase the number of schools offering social work courses nationwide.
Tulfo likewise shared that they have job openings for social workers, however, no one is applying due to low compensation.
Child care budget
Meanwhile, Cayetano further inquired about the allocation for the National Authority on Child Care (NACC).
DSWD Undersecretary Antonio Crisanto Jr. said that the 2023 budget for alternative child care such as foster care and adoption is P221 million.
NACC Assistant Secretary Arezu Jam bared that she was “not aware” of such a budget.
Cayetano then questioned why NACC was not informed. Tulfo said that it may be because they are in the midst of their transition period.
“Ang problem kasi we’re in transition right now pero I do know that we have a budget for that. Hindi ko lang po alam ang exact amount,” the secretary said.
(The problem is we’re in transition right now but I do know that we have a budget for that. I just do not know the exact amount.)
Tulfo likewise apologized for the shortcoming.
“I apologize, there’s no excuse even though they knew in their position, even my finance undersecretary, I have to talk to them immediately after this,” he said. With reports from Trisha Manalaysay and Kristelle Razon, INQUIRER.net trainees
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