The second “Migrant Population Social Work Service and Innovation Seminar” took place in Nanjing on the 26th of May, co-sponsored by Xiezuzhe (Facilitators) and the China Sociologist Association. With several other organizations present, the seminar mainly discussed the social aid and protection of migrant children, urban integration and development from the perspective of social workers, and service resource organizations.
According to the organizers, a look at previous academic work shows that research and discussion on social work with migrant children comes predominantly from academia, and far less from front-line service organizations. At the same time, not many opportunities have been provided for people working in this field to discuss service-related policies and to share their experiences. Therefore, professionals from different fields were invited to attend the seminar, which included case studies from front-line organizations, research and analysis from experts, resource integration from foundations and cross-sectoral cooperation from business communities. The diverse participants had the chance to broaden their perspectives and increase new cooperation channels.
Zhangshu, the director of the sociology department of Nanjing University of Science and Technology, commented that “theoretical research in academia has not caught up with the current fieldwork on migrant children services. Many student thesis seem unrealistic. These good programs should be more widely acknowledged and encouraged. Therefore it is essential to have a platform like this seminar”. For his part the chairman of the social construction and social work research department of Nanjing University, Peng Huaming, claimed that “we should not take ‘migrant’ as too much of a negative term, but rather social workers should work on normalizing it”.
As the main sponsor of the seminar and with 14 years of experience working with migrant children, Xiezuozhe (Facilitators) called for attention on the diverse needs of child development, rather than just providing equal access to education for migrant children. They also commented that with policies based solely on an adult perspective, migrant children risk becoming further marginalized.
Working on empowering the service-targets to become service-providers themselves, Xiezuozhe also invited migrant children to the seminar to give them a voice. Yu Xiaoxue, who is a former migrant child and currently a social worker, commented that “my personal experience growing up tells me that migrant children need more than just material aid, they also need sincere company”.