This paper examines the progress of the social service professions delivering developmental social welfare in South Africa, a subject we have followed closely over the last 20 years. Being policy-driven, developmental social welfare stemmed from expert social analyses that resulted in technically oriented solutions, including the broadening of social service professions. Twenty years on, it is hard to see developmental social welfare, as envisaged in government policy, in action, since the practice reality does not differ drastically from the prior apartheid system with the government’s heavy reliance on social security as a poverty-alleviation measure. The expanded social security budget has led to underfunded services and a crisis for social service professionals. This paper focuses on the regulated professions of social workers, and child and youth care workers. Our examination of critical issues for these occupational groups revealed that South Africa still has a long way to go in building a strong social service workforce.