Abstract: Effectiveness and Implications of an International Social Work Education Project: Focus on Enhancing the Social Work Skills (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

556P Effectiveness and Implications of an International Social Work Education Project: Focus on Enhancing the Social Work Skills

Saturday, January 19, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Eunhye Kim, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Georgia, athens, GA
Introduction: The historical development of social work in South Korea began with assistance from Western countries, mainly the United States and England, after the Korean War. Over the last 60 years, the professional skills of social workers have advanced, and social welfare systems have been securely established. Given the positive outcomes South Korea experienced as a result of the assistance it received from other countries, NPOs in South Korea sees it as their responsibility to help developing countries in their efforts to improve the quality of their services for vulnerable populations. While Korean NPOs and the Korean government have supported developing countries by focusing on financial assistance and constructing facilities, they have been criticized for devoting less effort to maintaining the sustainability of the service organizations. In this project, assistance focused on improving social work skills and management systems in Vietnamese NPOs and facilitating government involvement in supporting social service organizations. The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of the educational training and the barriers to conducting international social work.

Methods: Based on needs assessments and focus group interviews in Vietnam and South Korea, four agencies in each country were selected and matched based on types of services offered. Annually, from 2014 to 2017, almost 20 government officials from Vietnam and social workers from the selected agencies were invited to South Korea to observe several types of social service agencies to experience the application of professional services skills. The director and social workers of the selected Vietnamese agencies observed their partner community service agencies in Korea and received professional skills training from social workers in the partner agencies, including conducting needs assessment, creating projects and evaluating the results of programs. The study utilized a basic descriptive qualitative research design. A total of 12 social work professionals and leaders of community service organizations involved in this project were interviewed for 60 minutes using semi-structured interview guides after completing the intervention. In analyzing the data, thematic analysis was used to identify implicit and explicit ideas within the data.

Findings: This project was effective in increasing the understanding of concepts of social work and in improving the skills of social workers in Vietnamese NPOs. In the process of communication between Korean and Vietnamese agencies, ongoing education for social workers to increase their understanding of cultural differences in making decisions and in providing services was crucial to the success of this project. Additionally, facilitating the involvement of government officials in this project from the beginning stages was important to achieving positive outcomes in working with developing countries.

Implications: The findings suggested that in supporting developing countries in increasing social work skills among social workers, involving government officials who are in charge of making decisions on budgets and management is essential to increasing the effectiveness of the intervention. In addition, continued training for social workers regarding differences in cultural and welfare systems is crucial to building ongoing relationships between matched agencies in both countries and producing successful outcomes in this project.