The Professionalized Social Work System in Taiwan

According to Lin Wan Yi (2003) and Yang Mei Ying (1998), in the 1970s there were already a number of scholars calling for the establishment of professional social worker organizations, in order to boost professional influence and enhance communication between social workers (Chang, 1978; Li, 1980). In the 'How to Establish Professional Social Worker System' and 'Reminiscences and Prospects of Social Works' seminars, the need to establish a professional social work organization was emphasized; academia had started to realize that to achieve a professional social work system, the establishment of a nationwide professional organization must be made a priority (Hsa and Lin, 1984; Chang, 1991; Tsai, 1989; Chien and Tao, 1993).

In 1990 when the incorporation plan was finalized, the crisis of social workers' labor conditions was not solved, and calls to legislate social work certificates arose. In 1991 two professors, Hsu Chen and Lin Wan Yi, drew up the first version of the Social Worker Act; in 1992, this draft was proposed by legislators such as Chu Feng Chih in the Legislative Yuan. In 1993, legislator Huang Ching Kao drew up the Professional Social Worker Act Draft. Proposed jointly by legislator Pan Wei Kang and Hung Jui Che, this draft adopted the previous version as its basis, adding parts regarding employment and the management of social workers. In 1994, the Legislative Yuan authorized Professor Lu Kuang and Professor Lin Cheng Chuen to compare and evaluate Chu Feng Chih and Pang Wei Kang's versions of the draft and propose another version based on their evaluations. In the same year, the Ministry of the Interior authorized the 'Republic of China

6 In 2000, this association changed its name to the 'Taiwan Association of Professional Social Workers'.

7 According to the 'Law of Citizen's Organization in the Period of Mobilization for the Suppression of Communist Rebellion', only one organization with the same properties can be established. At that time the existing China Association of Social Workers hindered the founding of the Republic of China Association of Professional Social Workers. Association of Social Workers' to undertake the drafting, with Professor Lin Wan Yi as convener and expert participation from the academic and practical fields. In 1995, Lin's version of the Social Worker Act was completed and was proposed by commissioned legislator Huang Chao Huei. The 'Republic of China Association of Social Workers' later commissioned legislator Lin Chih Chia to propose another version that amended five articles in the draft version.

Although the social worker community proactively compiled and edited the 'Social Worker Act' and obtained assistance from several legislators on the matter of proposal between 1991 and 1995, the 'Social Worker Act' was not submitted to the Legislative Yuan for examination. With social worker communities' efforts on a series of strategies and campaigns, including a march on 26 October 1995, the 'Social Worker Act' was eventually taken into the discussion agenda of the Legislative Yuan on 31 December 1995 and passed the third reading on 11 March 1997. On 27 July 1998, the promulgation of 18 items of social work ethical principles by the Ministry of Interior saw the completion of constructing a professional social work system (Lin, 2002b).

The process of professionalization started with the necessity of professionalization proposed by academia, yet during the process political backing (the legislators' support) was needed in order to pass the 'Social Work Act' and a subtle relationship between government and profession emerged and was even enhanced during this process. As specified in the 'Social Worker Act', one must pass the Civil Service Special Examination for Social Welfare Workers to gain a licence, or a special exam to obtain the Professional Social Worker certificate. This shows that the power of decision over qualification as a professional social worker lies with the government, pushing the government and development of the social work profession into a difficult situation where a tug of war never ceases.

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