Social work once again included in the 2021 Government Work Report

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On the 12th of March, the Xinhua News Agency was authorised to release the full text of the 2021 Government Work Report. Compared to the report announced by Premier Li Keqiang at the opening ceremony of the Fourth Session of the Thirteenth National People’s Congress (NPC) on the 5th of March, the statement of “vigorously developing the social work sector” has been added to the final report. Two years from 2019, social work was again included in the government work report.

The change was made possible because the report announced by the premier was submitted to the NPC for deliberation. According to the Rules of Procedure of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, when the NPC meets every year, the State Council must submit a work report during the meeting. After discussions by the NPC delegations, opinions about the government work report will be delivered to the State Council for modifications to be made accordingly.

During the ‘Two Sessions’ this year, representatives and committee members proposed suggestions for encouraging and improving the social work sector. Ares that representatives and committee members expressed relating to social work include children’s protection, community services and rural employment.

In a briefing held by the Information Office of the State Council on the 12th of March, Sun Guojun, a member of the Party Leadership Group of the Research Office of the State Council, stated that opinions and suggestions from representatives and committee members had been heard through mainly four ways: video connections to the representative group conference venues, briefings, hotlines, and a mini programme on mobile phones.

Sun claimed, “the report has a total of 81 supplements and amendments, and many of the amendments have combined multiple suggestions. Generally speaking, the amendments cover most of the opinions and suggestions put forward by the representatives and members. Opinions that have not been adopted to the report have been transferred to the relevant departments for further research.”

The China Philanthropy Times said that based on the “13th Five-Year Plan, the followings areas in the social work sector will be promoted by the Ministry of Civil Affairs:

  • Epidemic prevention and control and psychosocial work environment. The Implementation Outline for the Construction of a Society under the Rule of Law (2020-2025) proposes to develop a professional team of psychiatrists and social workers to provide psychosocial services. During the pandemic, social workers have played a vital role in offering counselling, emotional, and mental support. In the present, the pandemic has not completely come to an end so such work must continue to be implemented.
  • Rural development. The 2021 No. 1 Central Document and the Government Work Report clearly require rural revitalisation to be the focal point of tasks related to agriculture work, rural areas and farmers. Social workers can be actively involved in this process. The Opinions on Accelerating the Rejuvenation of Rural Talents issued by the Central Office and the State Council also clearly stressed the strengthening of efforts to construct of a team of young talent dedicated to social work in rural areas.
  • Social Assistance. In 2020, the Central Office and the State Council issued the Opinions on Reforming and Improving the Social Assistance System, mandated the promotion and participation of the public and publish guidance for social work professionals. In 2021, the Work Report of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress included the formulation of a social assistance law in the work schedule.
  • Community work. The Special Action Plan for Cultivating and Developing Community Social Organisations (2021-2023) proposes to encourage practitioners of community social organisations to participate in social work training and national vocational qualification examinations. By 2023, it is hoped the total number of community social workers will reach 2.45 million. Meanwhile, the Government Work Report pointed out it is necessary to improve the governance and service system of urban and rural communities; it is important to develop diversified services, such as community elderly care, childcare, food services and cleaning services.
  • Youth growth and development. The Minor Protection Law and the Juvenile Crime Prevention Law revised and passed in 2020 clearly wrote social work participation in child protection and crime prevention into the law. In addition, the National Standards for Judicial Social Work Services for Juveniles was tested as a pilot programme in 2020. After its trial implementation, the Standards will be promoted and implemented nationwide.
  • Elderly care. The Implementation Opinions on Further Expanding the Supply of Elderly Care Services and Promoting the Consumption of Elderly Care Services issued by the Ministry of Civil Affairs proposes to train 100,000 full-time and part-time elderly social workers by the end of 2022. In October 2020, the Training Syllabus for Elderly Care Social Workers (trial) was launched, and training programmes for 2021 have already been scheduled.
  • Medical care. In 2020, the Beijing Municipal Health Commission and other institutions jointly issued the Implementation Opinions on the Development of Medical Social Work, and proposed the target of full coverage of medical social work services in medical institutions in Beijing by 2025. In particular, the goal from 2020 to 2022 is to set up medical social worker positions in medical institutions, and encourage qualified medical institutions to set up medical social work departments with full-time medical social workers.