International organizations and service professionalization for disadvantaged children in Vietnam

Nguyen Thi Thai Lan - International Social Work


Social work was reintroduced in Vietnam in the late 1980s and was officially recognized in 2010 as an effective tool for responding to increasing levels of social problems as a result of the introduction of a market economic policy in the mid-1980s. It is estimated that about 18.2 percent of children in Vietnam are in need of social work services. This article reports a part of a qualitative study to address the questions of what and how international organizations have been engaging in the professionalization of social work services for disadvantaged children in Vietnam, taking five international organizations as the unit of analysis. Mixed data-collection strategies were used, including participant observations, 39 in-depth interviews, and 3 focus group discussions. The key argument of this research is about the relationship between international organizations and social work professionalization in empowerment, service development, and challenges in the local context. The research results also suggest critical thinking of indigenizing, or ‘Vietnamizing’ and authenticating the social work profession in respect to the indigenous culture, economic, political, social, and environmental aspects.