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Social welfare services foundation to be streamlined into agency

FSWS to become an agency in its own right, with four service pillars of family, adoption, children and community.

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Maria Pace
30 November 2017, 1:10pm
The Foundation for Social Welfare Services will be planning to integrate all its services into one agency, Family Minister Michael Falzon has said.

Falzon said that the foundation would become an agency in its own right, with four service pillars of family, adoption, children and community.

“Today’s problems are complex and it is important to have a single agency to tackle these issues,” Falzon said.

A triennial report presented by the minister revealed positive outcomes from the foundation’s work. “It is an impressive report, which reflects the depth of the work being done. The success over these recent years is crucial and will continue over the coming years.”

65% of employees are “core employees”, which refer to social workers, family therapists and youth and community workers.

In 2016, the majority of employees were located at Agenzija Appogg, with 317 workers; 50 working within head office, 134 in Sedqa, and 52 people in Leap.

On average, Appogg saw around 10,000 individuals seeking care, while Sedqa, which deals with substance abuse, saw around 3,000 individuals.

“This is a labour-intensive organisation,” FSWS chief executive Alfred Grixti said. “A robot cannot do this work.”

LEAP, which began as a European funded project, carried out 3,200 family visits and compiled over 8,500 profiles in 2016.

2,000 food aid (FEAD) boxes were also given to families and individuals.

16 families were referred to the new home-based therapeutic services between May 2015 and May 2016, and a further 129 families were referred between December 2016 and September 2017.

These services, which are given to multi-problem families, provide a social worker who spends the afternoon with the family.

Grixti also said that when the agency removes a child from the family, this is always a measure of last resort as “it is only when all else fails and the family is incapable of caring for the child, that it is considered.”

Grixti also said the island Gozo was an issue for the FSWS, with a high rate of underreporting despite various centres there that  facilitate guidance, including Home-Start, fostering, a LEAP centre in Xewkija, and social workers at the Gozo hospital.

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Maria Pace joined MaltaToday in 2017.