DSWD Services to Distressed Overseas Filipinos

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The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) provides various services to distressed overseas Filipinos. These services include but are not limited to financial assistance, counseling, and legal assistance. Technically, the DSWD works with OWWA since OWWA is the Philippine counterpart abroad that directly takes care of the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers.

The Philippines is known for being a top source country for overseas workers. These Filipinos either migrate permanently or reside temporarily abroad for employment-related reasons, and are typically expected to return home once their work contracts end. However, there are some Filipinos who experienced various forms of abuse or maltreatment in their host countries, causing them to end up being distressed.

Also Read: What is the Difference Between OWWA and DSWD?

With this, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) recognizes that it should be proactive in providing services to these Filipinos, as they may need assistance in dealing with the consequences of their situation.

dswd programs and services for distressed ofws

What are the DSWD Services to Distressed Overseas Filipinos?

There are lots of Filipinos who go abroad in order to seek better opportunities for themselves and their families. However, there is a significant number of Filipinos who leave the country without proper documentation.

These are the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who do not have documentation and, as a result, are more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Given that there are no mechanisms or means to reach and identify them, their situations pose a much larger challenge. Being undocumented immigrants, they have little to no access to healthcare and information.

Without the proper documents, they are also more susceptible to abuse or exploitation. The government has established Mechanisms to regulate international migration in order to establish a higher standard of protection for migrant workers. The systems put in place are meant to ensure a higher standard of protection for migrant workers, particularly those who are in distress. Another aim is to provide documentation for Filipinos who wish to travel outside of the country.


The DSWD Services offers several services to distressed overseas Filipinos in various fields. This includes:

  1. Psychosocial Services
  • They offer counseling services for individuals, families, and groups.
  • Psychosocial Processing
  • Psychosocial Services First Aid
  • Value Inculcation Services
  • Other Psychosocial Recovery and resiliency
  • Pre-Marriage or Marriage Counseling
  1. Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS)
  • Offers transportation assistance program that provides repatriation and transportation services within the post and in the Philippines.
  • Medical Assistance is a service that provides limited financial aid for medical expenses, such as consultation and hospitalization fees, laboratory fees, and the purchase of medicines.
  • They offer material assistance in the form of clothing, sleeping blankets and supplies, hygiene kits, and food.
  • Communication assistance through the provision of cell phone cards or free calls for those who have no means of contacting their families or relatives in the Philippines.
  • Temporary Shelter assistance
  1. Referral Services

Referral to agencies that provide needed services, including but not limited to:

  • Temporary Shelter or Accommodation
  • Airport Assistance
  • Transport Assistance to the Residence
  • Livelihood Assistance
  • Emergency Medical Assistance
  • Stress Debriefing
  1. Training/Capability Building Activities

Aims to help government organizations, non-government organizations, OFW organizations, and other agencies to provide better services and meet the needs of OFWs. Training and capability-building activities usually encompass two main areas, economic and psycho-social.

The economic component of the program includes social preparation programs for community-based income generation or livelihood projects, credit facilitation, skills training, and lending. These activities are carried out while the workers are abroad in order to get them ready for their return or reintegration into the Philippines.


The psycho-social aspects, on the other hand, encompass community organizing programs or organizing OFW family circles and services. These include family counseling, social counseling, stress debriefing, and training on value formation and capacity building.


  • Distressed Overseas Filipinos (OFs)


  1. Eligibility Requirements
  • According to the ISSO Social Worker’s Assessment
  1. Documentary Requirements
  • Travel Document(s)
  • Passport
  • Certification from OWWA or other proof of repatriation
  • Barangay Certificate of Residency/ Certificate of Indigency


  • Step 1: Arrival of the client
  • Step 2: Submission of the documentary requirements
  • Step 3: Processing and fill up the Certificate of Eligibility and Intake Sheets
  • Step 4: The client needs to sign the Acknowledgment Receipt

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are Distressed Overseas Filipino Workers?

Distressed overseas Filipinos are Filipino workers who are in need of support and assistance due to various problems or emergency situations. This can include individuals who have been injured, displaced, or otherwise affected by events such as natural disasters or personal crises. They are also the people who suffered abuse or neglect abroad, or who require assistance with recovery from traumatic experiences.

2. Who Is Eligible For DSWD Services?

To be eligible for DSWD services, you must be a Filipino citizen and an overseas worker. You must also be in need of support due to a crisis or emergency situation that has affected your life, safety, and well-being. Examples of eligibility criteria include having lost your passport or other travel documents, being injured or displaced due to a disaster or accident, suffering from abuse or neglect abroad, experiencing trauma and stress due to a traumatic event, or facing financial difficulties as a result of your situation.

3. What Are Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995?

The government has established the Office for Social Welfare Attaché through Republic Act (RA) No 11299, which amends aspects of Republic Act No. 8042, also known as the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995”. The law’s intention is to promote and protect the welfare of migrant workers, as well as Overseas Filipinos who find themselves in difficult situations.

4. What Are The Two Provisions Of The Law Related To The Protection Of OFW?

Two provisions related to the protection of OFWs are the establishment of a Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) and the placement of social workers in the said center to provide social welfare services.

5. What is Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC)?

The Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) seeks to promote and protect the rights and the general welfare of Overseas Filipinos, particularly those distressed and undocumented Filipinos overseas together with their families, by establishing an efficient and effective process of Social Welfare Attaché (SWAtt) deployment and management of International Social Services Offices (ISSOs) at the DSWD headquarters and in Foreign Posts.


Distressed overseas Filipino workers, or OFWs, are individuals who require assistance due to various problems or emergency situations. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) provides a range of social welfare services to help meet the needs of OFWs.

It aims to promote and protect the welfare of migrant workers, as well as Overseas Filipinos who find themselves in difficult situations.

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