What is DSWD? Department of Social Welfare and Development

Social welfare is a basic function of the state. It refers to the organized services and assistance offered to individuals or families in need. In the Philippines, the social welfare system is handled by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)—the government agency created from the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) by virtue of Executive Order 123.

Also Read: What is OWWA? Overseas Workers Welfare Administration

Ever since the first decade of the American occupation in the country, the state has been implementing some form of social welfare system. It has come in different names through the years, but the goals have always been the same—to ensure that the Filipinos continue to develop and that the families and groups in need will have the assistance they need in the form of programs like health care assistance, food stamps, and unemployment compensation. Lesser known parts of a social welfare system include disaster relief and educational assistance.

Table of Contents

What is DSWD

DSWD stands for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)—the government agency of the Philippines in charge of ensuring that social work is carried out in an effort to aid in the development of Filipinos and the Philippines. 

It originated as an effort of various groups during the first decade of the American occupation in the Philippines, before evolving into a state function at the end of World War II. Since the social welfare efforts started in the country in 1915, the agency has taken on various names. It has, however, retained its original goal, which it has carried out well for over 100 years. Such functions include ensuring that the Filipinos enjoy an improved quality of life, free from hunger, poverty, abuse, and exploitation. The agency’s mandate is to make sure that all Filipinos have equitable access to development opportunities and everyone is enabled by fair, just, and peaceful governance.


The history of DSWD and the Philippine social welfare system is long and eventful. It can be traced back to 1915, with the creation of the Public Welfare Board (PWB). Six years later, it evolved into the Bureau of Public Welfare under the Department of Public Instruction. In 1941, the Bureau of Public Welfare officially became a part of the Department of Health and Public Welfare. Together, the two departments coordinated the services of all public and private social welfare institutions, while also managing all public child-caring institutions and providing child welfare services.

In 1947, then-President Manuel A. Roxas abolished the Bureau of Public Welfare and created the Social Welfare Commission (SWC). The next year, the President’s Action Committee on Social Amelioration (PACSA) was created. In 1951, these two—the SWC and PACSA—were merged into one Social Welfare Administration (SWA) which marked the beginning of an integrated public welfare program in the country. It later became an official department and was named Department of Social Welfare, before it was renamed as Department of Social Services and Development (DSSD). Upon the change in the Philippine form of government, it became the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD). 

In 1987, when former President Corazon C. Aquino assumed the presidency, she signed the Executive Order 123 and 292, effectively reforming the MSSD into the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as we know it today. Later, it evolved and expanded the scope of its services and further organized itself with clear definition of the departmental mandate, roles, powers and functions, as well as its role in policy, functions, programs, and services related to its steering role and the social welfare system for the public and the local government units.


Asan agency, the DSWD has a clear vision: To enable an empowered and resilient society where Filipinos enjoy an improved quality of life, are free from hunger, poverty, abuse, and exploitation, have equitable access to development opportunities, ruled over by a fair, just, and peaceful governance.


DSWD, as the prime authority in charge of the country’s social welfare and development sector, has and always will strive to develop and advocate for policies, plans, standards, and responsive programs to capacitate partners, and empower stakeholders for a more accessible, efficient, effective, and accountable social service delivery for those who need them most.

Core Values and DSWD Brand

The DSWD has always been guided by the following core values in an effort to live with and maintain sufficient respect for human dignity, integrity, and service excellence:

  • Maagap at Mapagkalingang Serbisyo (Prompt and compassionate service)
  • Serbisyong Walang Puwang sa Katiwalian (Corruption-free service)
  • Patas na Pagtrato sa Komunidad (Fair community treatment)

What are the Benefits?

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is mandated by law to take charge in the development, administration, and implementation of comprehensive social welfare programs aimed at improving the living conditions of the Filipinos. Such programs involve ensuring the empowerment of disadvantaged children, youth, women, seniors, people with disabilities, families in crisis or at risk, and communities in need.

More than these mandate, the presence of the department ensures that the Filipinos can expect the following: 

  • Improved well-being of poor families 
  • Promoted and protected rights of the poor and vulnerable sectors 
  • Guaranteed immediate relief and early recovery of disaster victims/survivors
  • Continuing compliance of social welfare and development (SWD) agencies to standards in the delivery of social welfare services
  • Improved delivery of social welfare and development (SWD) programs by local government units (LGUs) through the local social welfare and development offices (LSWDOs)

DSWD Programs, Projects, and Services

To carry out its mandate to protect and promote the well-being of the Filipinos, particularly the marginalized sectors and those living at the fringes of the society, the DSWD has implemented numerous programs and offered various services. 

These programs and services include: 

Technical Assistance and Resource Augmentation (TARA) Program

The Technical Assistance and Resource Augmentation (TARA) Program is implemented by the DSWD in an effort to ease the transfer of technical and organizational know-how and augment the provision of pertinent resources to stakeholders in order to support the implementation of the rest of DSW’s programs and projects.

Development of Social Technologies

Through the Development of Social Technologies, the DSWD hopes to implement a systematic process of building SWD model of interventions. The process will start from conceptualization then move on to design formulation, pilot testing, evaluation and documentation, and marketing and promotion. This process also applies to the enhancement of existing DSWD models of interventions.

Regulatory Services

DSWD, as an agency, is also in charge of registration and licensing of agencies and organizations engaged in or planning to engage in social welfare and development (SWD) programs. Their regulatory service also involves the accreditation of SWD programs and services of licensed social work agencies (SWAs) and service providers.

Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) is a social assistance program geared towards human development. The program invests in the health and education of poor families, mainly those with children aged 0 to 18. The beneficiaries receive assistance and cash grants via conditional cash transfer scheme to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, encourage universal primary education, improve maternal and child health, and promote gender equality.

Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP)

It is a government-sponsored initiative carried out by the DSWD. The program provides food, in addition to regular meals, to all 3-5 year old children enrolled in Day Care Centers (DCCs) and 2-4 year old kids in Supervised Neighborhood Play (SNP). The initiative  is a part of the DSWD’s Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) program.

Bangsamoro Umpungan sa Nutrisyon (BangUN) Project

The DSWD Bangsamoro Umpungan sa Nutrisyon (BangUN) Project is a two-pronged initiative that offers Food Assistance and Health Education in an effort to improve the nutrition levels of children in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The project involves distributing fortified rice and Vitamin A capsules, teaching proper hygiene practices, and promoting breastfeeding and complementary feeding to address the nutritional needs of the local communities.


It is socio-legal process of permanently placing a minor or a child with a parent/s other than their birth parents who voluntarily or involuntarily relinquished parental authority over the child. The objective is to enable children who are eligible for adoption to become a permanent member of a loving family who would offer him/her opportunities for growth and development.

Foster Care

Foster Care refers to the provisions of planned temporary substitute parental care to a child by a foster parent. It helps enable children to experience a caring and nurturing family life.

Travel Clearance for Minors

This service enables minors aged 18 years old and below to secure a travel clearance from the DSWD Field Office if they are travelling abroad alone. 

Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons (RRPTP)

The Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons (RRTP) is a comprehensive set of activities and services meant to help improve the beneficiaries’ psychosocial and economic requirements.

Social Pension (SocPen) for Indigent Senior Citizens

Social Pension (SocPen) for indigent senior citizens offers Php500.00 monthly stipend meant to augment their daily subsistence and other medical needs.

Centenarians Act Implementation

The DSWD Centenarian Program was meant to give public recognition to Filipino citizens aged 100 years old and above and honor their valuable contributions to the society. 

Programs and Services for Persons with Disabilities

Under the RA 10754, the DSWD offers social protection and assistance to PWDs in order to improve their quality of life and allow them to stand on equal footing with the other members of the society.

Assistance to Individuals with Crisis Situations (AICS)

Under this program, individuals, families, and communities in crisis or challenging situations, as well as vulnerable or disaster-affected communities, receive a variety of assistance through the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) and Assistance to Communities in Needs (ACN) programs

Comprehensive Program for Street Children, Street Families, and Indigenous People

The DSWD offers this program as an integrated approach and a package of services and interventions to address the needs of street children, street families and Indigenous Peoples living in the streets.

Residential and Non-Residential Care Program

The DSWD offers 24-hour services that provide poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged individuals, families, children, youth, women, senior citizens, persons with disability, and other who are in crisis with an alternate family care arrangement through the operation of residential and non-residential care facilities offerring the needed interventions.

International Social Welfare Services for Filipino Nationals (ISWSFN)

The DSWD’s International Social Welfare Services for Filipino Citizens is a program that encourages migratory Filipinos and other overseas Filipino nationals to seek help from Philippine embassies in their countries of travel.

National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) or Listahanan

The DSWD’s NHTS-PR is a data management system that identifies the poor are and where they are in the country so the DSWD can offer assistance in the form of cash grants.

Lingap at Gabay Para (LinGaP) sa May Sakit (MaSa)

The program offers assistance to patients who are struggling to make ends meet due to the high cost of treatment for serious illnesses. The assistance includes provisions to help pay for prosthesis, assistive devices, radiology, and chemotherapy treatments 

Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Program

It’s DSWD’s life-saving emergency response as well as a long-term strategy that aims to reduce the vulnerability of communities to disasters.

KALAHI-CIDSS-National Community Driven Development Program (KC-NCDDP)

The Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services: Kapangyarihan at Kaunlaran sa Barangay (KALAHI-CIDSS: KKB) is the community-driven flagship development project of the government of the Philippines that aims to empower communities through direct participation in community projects aimed at reducing poverty. It was meant to bring asset reforms, human development services, capacity building, and governance engagement services to the communities.

Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP)

The Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) is two-track community-based capacity-building program (Microenterprise Development Track and Employment Facilitation Track) aimed at improving the socioeconomic situation of identified poor, vulnerable, and marginalized households and participants so they can acquire the necessary assets or find acceptable employment prospects to engage in and maintain thriving livelihood. 

Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) Program

The DSWD Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) Program is a subsidy program provided by the Philippine government to help soften the effects of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

Yakap Bayan After Care Program

The Yakap Bayan After Care Program is a program offered by DSWD to help assist Recovering Persons Who Used Drugs (RPWUDs) so they can be socially functioning and maintain a lifestyle change from rehabilitation or treatment with the help of their families, communities, and Local Government Units (LGU) service providers. It is carried out by the Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (ADACs) utilizing existing resources from the LGUs, NGAs, and CSOs for the continuum of care and to prevent stigma at the barangay level

Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Program

DSWD’s PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan) is a program aimed at improving underprivileged communities’ access to fundamental social services while also promoting responsive governance.

Targeted Cash Transfer (TCT) Program

DSWD’s Targeted Cash Transfer (TCT) Program is a program that grants cash transfers to the most affected households in the amount of Php500.00 per month for a duration of six (6) months.


  • Knowledge Management Portal (KM Portal)
  • DSWD e-Services

The DSWD e-Services is an online application system created to help provide the public with direct access to DSWD frontline services through the Internet. This will help reduce the processing and approval time of DSWD transactions with the public.

The DSWD eServices covers the online applications, processing and approvals of the following frontline services:

  • Travel Clearance for Minors Travelling Abroad
  • Registration, Licensing and Accreditation of Social Welfare and Development Agencies (SWDAs) and Service Providers (SPs)

DSWD Centers and Institutions

In carrying out its mandate, the DSWD has set up the following centers and institutions:

Reception and Study Center for Children (RSCC)

The Reception and Study Center for Children (RSCC) is a 24-hour residential and educational institution set up by the DSWD. 

It is a place where children aged 0 to 6 receive social work interventions. It provides protection and rehabilitation services to neglected, abandoned, mistreated, and exploited children, as well as children with specific needs, children at risk and children in need of alternative family care, through temporary residential care so they may grow and develop safely and far from abuse. The RSCC also aims to improve the competency and efficacy of the center’s employees and service providers when it comes to case management, correct placement, and other child rehabilitation services.

Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY)

The RRCY is yet another institutional residential facility initiated by the DSWD in an effort to provide a safe and supportive environment for children. It was especially designed to feel like home that provides intensive therapy for Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL) who have had their sentences suspended. Whenever possible, the RRCY connects its center-based services to community-based programs to provide intervention and diversion (from formal court procedures), as well as rehabilitation for final reintegration of the CICL into the family and the community.

DSWD Regional Haven

The DSWD-Regional Haven is a center-based facility that provides protective custody and psychological care to vulnerable, impoverished, and abused women. It was also meant to offer a steady stream of services with the support of social workers, psychologists, house parents, and other professionals who work with clients to create a loving environment in which trust, self-esteem, and healing can develop for the women residing in the center..

Other Services

Survival and Protection Services

  • After Care Services

Much like a warranty service of sorts, the DSWD makes it a point to check on its discharged wards following discharge from the center, as a continuation of its rehabilitation efforts.

  • Character Building Program 

The DSWD believes that it is possible to help form strong and desirable characters by helping its wards focus on their positive attributes.

  • Family Counseling 

The DSWD also offers help to their client’s family members so they can cope with the fears, frustrations, and trauma and enhance their family’s capacity to solve their problems.

  • Food, Nutrition, and Health Services  

This DSWD offers people with support so they can get adequate nutrition and meals and maintain their health.

  • Home life Services 

This DSWD service offers their clients with home-like environment conducive to moral development.

  • Legal Services 

Residents of the DSWD centers are also entitled to legal support in case they need to attend court hearings or face and other legal problems.

  • Medical Services 

The DSWD clients also get appropriate medical care as part of the service.

  • Psychological / Psychiatric Services 

It includes a comprehensive psychological examination and evaluation of the child’s personality and behavior, carried out by the DSWD in collaboration with other organizations.

  • Recreational Programs 

The DSWD also encourages Individuals to cultivate a hobby or creative talent, including but not limited to athletics, singing, dancing, or playing instruments, as a coping mechanism and an alternative activity.

  • Social Services 

Women or Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances (WEDC or CEDC) residing in Regional Havens are provided with social assistance that will help prepare them for reintegration into the society 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  

  • Spiritual Enhancement Program 

On a regular basis, religious services and activities are also held in the DSWD centers.

Development and Participation Services

  • Educational Services 

The educational services offered by the DSWD centers involves developing and implementing a thorough plan that offers each client with a learning environment and opportunities.

  • Individual and Group Counseling 

Through the individual and group counselling services, the DSWD hopes to improve the resident’s interpersonal relationships while also allowing them to become more aware of their flaws and abilities.

  • Productivity and Skills Training 

This DSWD program offers training programs to help prepare the clients for independent life and self-reliance.

  • Spiritual Services and Value Formation

The Spiritual Services and Value Formation programs of the DSWD also hopes to contribute and assist clients build faith and hope through certain religious groups.

  • Sports, Creative Arts, and Recreational Activities 

The DSWD sports, creative arts, and recreational activities offers a coping technique and alternative activity to help the centers’ clients create feelings of competence, self-worth, and identity by cultivating a passion or creative talent such as athletics, singing, dancing, or playing instruments.

Video: DSWD Quality Policy 2022

The DSWD continues to improve itself by employing adjustments to their quality policies through the years. To learn more about what DSWD advocates for, watch this video below:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

For other questions or concerns, here are some of the commonly asked questions about the DSWD:

1. What is DSWD?

The DSWD stands for the Department of Social Welfare and Development—the agency in charge of creating, administering, and implementing comprehensive social welfare programs meant to help disadvantaged children, youth, women, seniors, and people with disabilities and underserved communities improve their quality of life and their living conditions.

2. What is the purpose of DSWD?

The purpose of the DSWD is to create, administer, and implement comprehensive social welfare programs and services to help improve the living conditions and empower the disadvantaged and marginalized sectors, especially the children, youth, women, seniors, people with disabilities, families in crisis or at risk, and communities in need.

3. Who is considered indigent in the Philippines?

Indigent members of the society are those whose family income does not exceed Php14,000.00 per month in Metro Manila, and those whose family income does not exceed Php13,000.00 per month in other regions.

4. Can I go directly to DSWD?

Yes. For any concerns or assistance, you may directly visit the DSWD offices. They are open from Monday to Friday at 8:00am to 5:00pm.

5. Who needs a travel clearance from DSWD?

The following requires travel clearance issued by the DSWD:

  • Filipino minor aged 18 or below who is traveling alone outside the country using the Philippine Passport;
  • Filipino minor traveling with their prospective adoptive parent/s for purpose of inter-country adoption;
  • Filipino minor traveling with any other person who are not his/her parent/s, legal guardian or person exercising parental authority/legal custody over him/her.
  • Filipino minor who is illegitimate and is traveling with his/her biological father.

Note: Married minors require the same documents as that of unmarried minors traveling abroad.

6. How much discount can Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) enjoy from using Public Transportation?

According to Section 32. Chapter 8. Other Privileges and Incentives of the Republic Act No. 9442, An Act Amending Republic Act No. 7277 (Magna Carta for Persons With Disabilities), PWDs may exclusively enjoy at least 20% discount in public railways, skyways and bus fare.

7: What other “privileges” can Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) enjoy?

The privileges of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) include:

  • 20% discount for all services in hotels, restaurants, & recreation centers.
  • At least 20% discount on admission fees on theaters, cinema houses, concert halls, circuses, carnivals and other similar places.
  • At least 20% discount for all purchase of medicines in all drugstores nationwide.
  • At least 20% discount on medical & dental services (including diagnostic and laboratory fees & professional fees of attending doctors in all private hospitals & medical facilities).
  • At least 20% discount on fare for domestic air and sea travel.
  • Educational assistance to help them pursue and complete primary, secondary, tertiary, post tertiary, vocational or technical education in public & private schools given through scholarship grants, financial aids, subsidies and other incentives including books, learning materials & uniform allowance.
  • Continuation of benefits of GSIS, SSS & PAG-IBIG (previously employed).
  • Special discounts (5%) in special programs for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) on purchase of basic commodities (as guided by rules and regulations from DTI & DA).
  • Provision of express lanes for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in all commercial, private, and government establishments.

8. Who is eligible for financial support from the DSWD?

The DSWD offers financial support to the following:

  • Families/individuals who are indigent, vulnerable, disadvantaged, or poor in the informal sector, as determined by the DSWD Listahanan, 
  • government employees and contract service workers, and 
  • those in crisis as determined by the DSWD social workers

Contact Information

For more information on what the DSWD offers, you may reach out to the DSWD via the following contact information:

Department of Social Welfare and Development

Office Address: DSWD Building, Constitution Hills, Batasan Complex, Quezon City, PH 1126

Tel. No.: (632) 931-8101 to 07

Email Address: inquiry@dswd.gov.ph

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