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Better pay for social workers
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Social workers in Shenzhen can earn up to 5,230 yuan (US$688) a month, according to a salary guide issued recently by the municipal government.

Social workers in the city fell into five categories based on their professional levels and would be paid accordingly, yesterday's Daily Sunshine reported. A social work system with Chinese characteristics and Shenzhen features was expected to be established in Shenzhen in three to five years, the report said, quoting government officials.

To improve the professional levels of social workers in Shenzhen, a training program had been launched to encourage domestic and foreign institutions of higher learning to help train more social workers.

Measures would be taken to ensure one social worker would be available for every 70 drug addicts, every 70 problematic teenagers, every 5,000 families, every 10,000 migrant workers, every 200 low-income residents, every 500 hukou (permanent residence permit) holders aged above 60 and every 50 residents with serious disabilities, the Daily Sunshine report said.

The municipal government would purchase social work-related services for schools, hospitals and communities from nongovernmental organizations, according to earlier reports. Social workers who do not provide satisfactory service will be sent back to their employers.

Shenzhen is home to a large number of voluntary social workers and agencies providing social services. There are nearly 140,000 registered social workers in Shenzhen and 42 percent of city residents have worked as social workers at least once.

Social work is a profession for those with a strong desire to help improve people's lives. Social workers often work with people in crisis or people who are socially disadvantaged. Their aim is to provide support to enable people to help themselves. They maintain a professional relationships with their clients, acting as a guide, advocate or critical friend.

Social workers and volunteers are considered to be two of the most important groups involved in providing social services in Western countries. In some European countries, there are at least six social workers for every 1,000 residents. According to international practice, one social worker should lead and work with some 20 volunteers.

(Shenzhen Daily October 30, 2007)

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