INTEGRATED SOCIAL SERVICES (ISS) INITIATIVE
Strengthening intersectoral collaboration to improve service delivery
Vulnerable children and families should not be left behind. The Government of Ghana is committed to ensuring that poverty and vulnerability of children and families is reduced through increased access to an integrated set of social services.
The Integrated Social Services (ISS) is an initiative championed by the Office of the Head of Local Government Service (OHLGS), Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) including the LEAP Management Secretariat (LMS), Department of Children (DoC) and Department of Social Welfare (DSW), Ministry of Local Government, Decentralization and Rural Development (MLGDRD), Ghana Health Services (GHS), National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF). ISS seeks to strengthen inter-sectoral collaboration among social welfare, social protection, and health actors at the decentralized and national level, to improve the delivery of social services across the country. Falling within the broader scope of the decentralisation in Ghana, the ISS aims to help address multi-dimensional poverty and vulnerability, with a strong focus on promoting linkages between health, child protection, sexual and gender-based violence, and social protection services. The ISS has been designed based on the Coordinated Programme and the National Medium-Term Development Policy Framework 2018-2021 and 2022-2025 (NMTDPF).
The strategies include:
- Using the Social Welfare system as the entry point to strengthen its overall capacity and methods of local social welfare offices, empowering them through updated standard operating procedures, capacity, and innovative use of resources.
- Strengthening health access, outreach and linkages for the poor and vulnerable households by strengthening the link between LEAP and NHIS for free insurance, and the crowding in of health services for LEAP families through routine household visits conducted by community health nurses and officers at the CHPS-level.
- Improving data sharing protocols and technology by exploring inter alia interoperability of information management systems used at LEAP, NHIS and GHS for smoother and timely inter-sectoral case referrals.
- Strengthening inter-sector referrals between critical services, including with NGOs, implementing the Inter-sectoral Standards Operating Procedures for Child Protection and Family Welfare (ISSOPs) and supporting their use across sectors, introducing technological innovations such as the Social Welfare Information Management Systems (SWIMS) and the Social Services Directory: http://directory.mogcsp.gov.gh/.
- The Inter-sectoral Standards Operating Procedures for Child Protection and Family Welfare provides a harmonized framework of agreed standards, principles and procedures for all child protection and family welfare stakeholders to understand each other’s roles and responsibilities. In addition, the ISSOP helps to hold stakeholders mutually accountable to each other and the beneficiaries they serve. It identifies specific procedures to the use of forms, tools and guides by the social services and other key stakeholders. The guides, tools and forms of this ISSOP have been designed to improve the quality of social services.
- Build capacity of MMDAs, in particular DSWCDs, to effectively incorporate social service delivery as priorities in MMDA planning, budgeting and reporting, to improve advocacy for and access to funding from different funding arrangements, primarily District Development Facility / DACF / RFG / IGF for social and child protection programmes.
- The Social Services Directory is a portal that contains information on all legally registered social welfare service providers in all 261 Districts within Ghana. Information collected includes the name, address, contact number, domain of operation, services offered, website, email ID, etc. of the service provider. The directory was developed to assist Social Welfare and Community Development Officers and other social service providers in both the public and private sectors to find the appropriate organizations to refer cases to in a district and also follow up on referred cases.
Technical and financial support has been provided by UNICEF, USAID and FCDO, towards finding and strengthening cost-effective ways to harmonize services at the decentralized level for the benefit of the most vulnerable populations.
Sixty (60) MMDAs across 16 regions were selected to implement the initiative in 2020. Fourty (40) MMDAs joined the initiative in 2021. Sixty (60) more will join in 2022 and the rest of the MMDAs in 2023. Lessons learned during the initiative with respect to coordination, planning and financing at the decentralized level will eventually be used to promote best practices and scaling up of ISS implementation across all districts in Ghana.