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DSWD Academy rolls out pilot paralegal training for social workers

Some 40 social workers from different backgrounds will compose the first batch of students that are currently undergoing the paralegal training course offered by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Academy from March 18 to 22.

DSWD Asst. Secretary for Standards and Capacity Building Group (SCBG) Janet Armas, in her opening message during the launch of the training course on Monday (March 18), emphasized the significant role of the social workers in handling court cases of vulnerable individuals.

“The Department extends sincere gratitude to all participants for their fervor and dedication in providing assistance to our clients facing legal challenges. Together, we have the potential to significantly impact their lives and contribute to the advancement of this field,” Asst. Sec. Armas said.

According to Asst. Sec. Armas, the paralegal training will also aid the social workers in navigating the complex landscape of the legal system, which in turn, will enable them to provide appropriate interventions for clients.

“The purpose of this training is for us to know the processes in the court, to know the context of the law, so that we can properly deliver our services or our assessment as social workers. Do not forget that when we work with partners [lawyers and police authorities], we bring out social work. The assessment of the social worker and lead from that assessment, we will lead the intervention that is appropriate for the clients that we will be serving,” Asst. Sec. Armas said.

The paralegal training for social welfare and development workers under the DSWD Academy aims to equip the trainees with a foundational understanding of the legal framework surrounding social protection, as well as gain practical knowledge and skills to effectively navigate the CC legal processes and provide informed support to their clients.

DSWD Social Welfare Institutional Development Bureau (SWIDB) Director Justin Caesar Anthony Batocabe, who is a lawyer himself, served as a resource person for the first module which aims to provide an understanding of the Philippine legal system.

Director Batocabe underscored the similar duties of lawyers and social workers in protecting life and promoting the rights of individuals, particularly the vulnerable and marginalized.

“We protect the life, liberty, and property of the people around us. We help them in establishing or conferring their right, status, or proceeds from the obligations due to them,” Dir. Batocabe stressed.

Highlighting the role of the social workers in the legal frame, Director Batocabe said that they are agents of the State, protecting “those who cannot protect themselves”.

Atty. Batocabe noted that among the marginalized sectors being served by the social workers to ensure their basic rights are met are the poor, elderly, children, women, parents, and families.

Aside from the module prepared by Dir. Batocabe, the trainees will also undergo modules on understanding the salient provisions of social protection laws; legal processes and procedures in handling sensitive cases; and referral systems in helping survivors of abuse, exploitation, and children in need.

The first batch of trainees for the Certificate Course on Paralegal Training for Social Welfare and Development Practitioners: Introduction to the Legal Framework of Social Protection is composed of social workers from the different local social welfare and development offices (LSWDOs) and regional trial courts (RTCs) across the country.

The paralegal training is among the course offerings of the DSWD Academy, which serves as the agency’s professional learning institute that offers learning opportunities for the development of the competencies of its partner stakeholders, needed in the delivery of social welfare and development (SWD), and social protection (SP) programs and services.

The 5-day training course was held at the University Hotel at the University of the Philippines Diliman Campus in Quezon City.

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