This Good Practice Initiative entitled “Decentralizing the Delivery of Protective Services in the City of Baguio” was presented by Ms. Ellen Dayag, Social Welfare Officer III/Local Council for the Protection of Children Secretariat of the Baguio City Social Welfare and Development Office during the Knowledge Management Expo 2023 held at the Lafaayette Suites, Baguio City from 27-30 November 2023. It is an initiative adhering to the view of the celebrated urbanist, Jane Jacobs, that, “There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.”
Its goal is to reach out beyond the confines of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), and bring community-based social services to the streets. In 2018, it clustered its 128 barangays based on population, and assigned them into six (6) newly-formed unit offices created by virtue of the Mayor Benjamin Magalong’s Administrative Order No. 136 s. 2018 entitled “Decentralizing the Delivery of Protective Services in the City of Baguio.” Active participation was insured after dialogues with Punong Barangays which resulted in a review of cases per barangay versus population; inventory of barangay resources for protective services; and the extent of augmentation needed. This led to pledges of commitment that were sealed by resolutions allowing the use of barangay facilities as unit offices
Each CSWDO Cluster Unit consisted of a team of social welfare officers and allied staff with the primary focus of serving as On-Call Social Workers to attend to incidences of Children and Youth in Need of Special Protection (CYNSP) and Violence Against Women and their Children (VAWC), and as the core of a Multi-disciplinary Rescue Teams that monitor bars and drinking lounges, responding to children in need of rescue, suspected human trafficking victims, as well as in addressing mendicancy. By Calendar Year 2023, units were increased from 6 to 10, including the creation of a dedicated Section to manage cases in the Central Business District. By then, each Cluster Unit composition was standardized to be led by a SWO III, with a staff consisting of one SWO II, four SWO I and one SWA. This allowed the expansion of focus to include majority of protective services that were only available at the CSWDO’s main facility.
From its inception in Calendar Year 2018, the total number of clients served increased by 31% from 35,255,000 to 46,053,000 by the current year. Such increase is notable, considering that the total number of personnel deployed in the Cluster Units only increased by an 8% hiring of social workers and social worker assistants from 78 to 85. More compelling are the resulting impact of strengthening the capacity of the barangays in providing more relevant responses to locally expressed needs through the development of sustainable networks between the government and community, and increased community participation in social and economic development.
Baguio City’s Good Practice Initiative is fortuitous in the face of the recent directive of President Ferdinand ‘'Bongbong'' Marcos Jr. for the listing of the basic functions and services of the local government units based on the devolution transition plans. This comes along with his pronouncement on 21 December 2023 that, ““Should the LGUs lack the funds to implement the functions and services, the national government should have a program to assist them.” The Department of Social Welfare and Development encourages emulation of Baguio City’s initiative as the President has expressed his desire for additional funding for LGUs, especially those that are highly dependent on internal revenue allotment.