What Is DSWD? A Comprehensive Overview to the Department of Social Welfare and Development

What Is DSWD? A Comprehensive Overview to the Department of Social Worker and Development


What is DSWD

Meet the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)—your go-to for Filipino welfare since 1915. Born as the Public Welfare Board, it evolved into the DSWD in 1987, pledging to shield and uplift every Filipino.

This isn’t your typical department; it’s a century-old promise of care and coordination.

In this article we will explore the big sibling in social welfare, it crafts policies, plans, and programs for services that are accessible, efficient, effective, and darn well accountable.

For over 100 years, the DSWD has been the glue binding public and private players in a symphony of social services. Mandated by law, it’s the driving force behind programs that don’t just help but uplift the living conditions of those who need it most.

And it’s not doing it alone; it’s weaving in the services of both public and private social welfare institutions, creating a support tapestry as warm as a Filipino hug.


In 1915, the Public Welfare Board (PWB) was created to manage social services.

In 1921, the PWB was replaced by the Bureau of Public Welfare under the Department of Public Instruction.

On November 1, 1939, Commonwealth Act No. 439 established the Department of Health and Public Welfare.

In 1941, the Bureau of Public Welfare became a part of the Department of Health and Public Welfare, responsible for child welfare services.

In 1947, President Manuel Roxas replaced the Bureau of Public Welfare with the Social Welfare Commission.

In 1968, Republic Act 5416 created the Department of Social Welfare.

In 1976, it was renamed the Department of Social Services and Development (DSSD) by President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

On June 2, 1978, it became the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD).

In 1987, the MSSD transformed into the Department of Social Welfare and Development under President Corazon C. Aquino.

In 1991, Republic Act No. 7160, also called the Local Government Code of 1991, led to the devolution of some DSWD services to local government units.

Roles and Responsibilities of DSWD

The Department of Social Welfare and Development is the main agency in the Philippines for social welfare and development. 

It creates policies and plans that guide other organizations in providing social welfare services. The Department also improves existing programs for specific groups like children, women, and persons with disabilities. 

It registers and licenses individuals and organizations involved in social welfare services and sets standards for them to follow. The Department offers assistance and training to other organizations, protects vulnerable sectors, and provides support to local governments. 

In times of crisis, it offers protective services to individuals, families, and communities. The Secretary of the Department is in charge of the department and oversees its operations. 

They supervise and monitor the performance of all Field Offices to ensure that programs are implemented efficiently and on time. The Field Offices report directly to the Secretary.

Career Opportunities of DSWD

The Department of Social Welfare and Development offers various career opportunities for individuals looking to make a difference in the lives of others. 

These opportunities include positions in social work, community development, administration, and more. 

As a DSWD employee, you can work on programs and services aimed at helping vulnerable and marginalized communities, such as providing assistance to those in need, managing social welfare projects, and advocating for social justice. 

It’s a rewarding career path where you can contribute to improving the well-being of Filipinos and fostering a more inclusive society.

Attached agencies

  • Council for the Welfare of Children
  • National Authority for Child Care (NACC)
  • Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council
  • National Council on Disability Affairs

Programs and Services of DSWD

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, commonly known as “4Ps” or conditional cash transfer, is a human development initiative focused on investing in the well-being and education of underprivileged families, particularly those with children aged 0–18.


The Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services – National Community-Driven Development Program (Kalahi CIDSS–NCDDP) is a community-driven development effort of the Philippine Government administered through the Department of Social Welfare and Development and supported by government funding.

Sustainable Livelihood Program

The Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) is a community-centered capacity-building project aimed at enhancing the socio-economic status of program participants through two pathways: Micro-enterprise Development and Employment Facilitation.


An information management system that identifies impoverished individuals and their locations across the country, operated by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).

Supplemental Feeding Program

This program offers additional food assistance to target children as part of the Department’s Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) government initiative.

Disaster Response Operations

Comprising life-saving emergency relief and long-term recovery efforts in response to disasters and crises.


The Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons (RRTP) encompasses a comprehensive set of programs and services designed to address the psychosocial and economic needs of beneficiaries.


The Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) initiative aims to enhance access to essential social services for impoverished communities and promote responsive governance.

Protective Services Program

This program provides various interventions to individuals, families, and communities facing crises, challenging situations, or vulnerabilities, including disaster-affected communities.


The International Social Welfare Services for Filipino Nationals program assists migrant Filipinos and overseas Filipino nationals in crisis situations, encouraging them to seek help at Philippine Embassies in their host countries.

Center & Residential Care Facilities

These facilities offer 24-hour services that provide alternative family care arrangements for economically disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals or families experiencing crises.

Adoption and Foster Care

This involves the permanent placement of a minor with parents other than their birth parents within the Philippines.

Gender and Development

The Gender and Development (GAD) perspective acknowledges the importance of gender considerations in all aspects of development, influencing government planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies, programs, and projects.


The Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) Process, piloted in 2013 and now in its third cycle, aims to ensure the implementation of priority projects aimed at reducing poverty.

Challenges Faced by DSWD

The Department has faced several challenges in the past, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a significant impact on the social and economic aspects of the country. 

The Department has been working to address these challenges by implementing various programs and services to help low-income families recover from the socio-economic impact of the ongoing health crisis.

One of the significant challenges faced by the Department is the timely distribution of social assistance programs, such as the Social Amelioration Program (SAP). 

The Department has been working to resolve issues concerning the timely distribution of SAP, including security, reconciliation of beneficiaries’ lists, and logistical challenges, especially in remote communities in the provinces.

Another challenge faced by Department is the lack of digital infrastructure, including internet connectivity, digital identification, digital payments, and integrated data ecosystems. 

Countries that already have good and inclusive digital infrastructure were better equipped to quickly adapt their social protection programs to meet urgent needs during COVID-19. 

However, for the Philippines, it presented a challenge, and strain was felt in the delivery of social assistance under the Bayanihan acts. Fortunately, the country is moving to address digital infrastructure gaps through the development of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) 

DSWD Future Plan

The Department of Social Welfare and Development has developed a comprehensive plan to address poverty reduction and improve social protection initiatives. 

The DSWD Strategy Map 2028 is a strategic plan that aims to mobilize and steer social protection and social services to address poverty reduction.

The DSWD Strategy Map 2028 is designed to achieve its Impact Objective of improving social protection initiatives, which will contribute to poverty alleviation. 

The plan focuses on the steering (enabling role) and rowing (implementing role) functions of the Department. 

It aims to sustain the implementation of Strategic Plan 2018-2022 and take into consideration the thrust of the new administration of institutionalizing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and actualizing the full devolution of DSWD services to local government units.

The DSWD SULONG (Strategic Focus Utilized to Leverage Our Nation’s Good Governance) Recovery Plan 2021-2022 is envisioned to contribute to the protection of vulnerable sectors through responsive and appropriate social protection programs and services. 

The plan aims to recalibrate targets and deliverables in consideration of the severe effects of COVID-19 on socio-economic lives of Filipinos, increasing number of Locally Stranded Individuals, distressed Overseas Filipino Workers, and cybercrimes against children and young women, need to enjoin LGU to provide Social Protection programs and services, need to realign the response and to the 2028 Strategic Map, and increasing number of Department personnel tested positive for COVID-19.


In conclusion, the history of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the Philippines reflects its enduring commitment to social welfare and development. 

From its early beginnings in 1915 to its evolution into the DSWD we know today, the department has played a vital role in improving the lives of Filipinos. 

For job seekers interested in joining the DSWD, here are some key tips: 

  • Firstly, research the DSWD’s various programs and services to understand the organization’s mission and impact. 
  • Secondly, consider pursuing a career in social work, community development, or administration to contribute to the department’s goals.
  •  Lastly, stay updated on the DSWD’s future plans, such as the DSWD Strategy Map 2028, to align your career aspirations with the department’s vision for poverty reduction and social protection. 

Despite facing challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and digital infrastructure gaps, the DSWD remains dedicated to its mission of helping those in need and creating a more inclusive society for all Filipinos.


  1. Implications of the Pandemic to Social Welfare Delivery System: The DSWD Experience – Pantawid Pamilya. (n.d.). https://pantawid.dswd.gov.ph/2020/12/implications-of-the-pandemic-to-social-welfare-delivery-system-the-dswd-experience/
  2. ‌DSWD Strategy Management – DSWD Strategy 2028. (n.d.). Osm.dswd.gov.ph. Retrieved October 6, 2023, from https://osm.dswd.gov.ph/dswd-strategy-2028
  3. ‌Department of Social Welfare and Development. (2021, September 12). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Department_of_Social_Welfare_and_Development