Mr Palm's remarks on the launching of the Social Services Reform on 4 October 2012
Every modern state takes accountability for the social protection of its most vulnerable people, the people who cannot help themselves anymore. A social protection strategy consists of two elements. The first are minimum entitlements, often in the form of cash transfers or social transfers. The second are services.
Many social problems have little to do with cash or a minimum income. Take child abuse, child neglect, domestic violence, people with disabilities, or people with addiction problem. All these groups need special services. Until now, in Albania, these services are not always available where they are needed.
The reform initiative of the Ministry of Social Affairs will be supported by UNICEF with the generous grant of the Swiss Agency for Development of Cooperation. UNICEF is pleased to be associated with this reform. It is a various ambitious undertaking, and a main focus of UNICEF work in Albania. Together with Government, the Swiss Development Cooperation and other partners we have prepared a long time for this programme.
We, and our partners, are determined to make the system of social services work for those most in need. If the system is not functioning or helping the most vulnerable groups, it is no good. As the reform progresses, we will test the system whether it works – for Roma populations, for children at risk of abuse and neglect, for abused women and other populations at risk. We have learned from our work in child protection, and hope to apply successful models tested in Albania. If we can manage to transform social services, so that they change the conditions that perpetuate poverty, then Albania will be well on its way to an equitable society where human rights of the most vulnerable groups are respected and ensured.
There are many elements in the reform: Clarification of accountability, review of legislation and bylaws, adjusting the profile of social workers, transforming residential care institutions into community based services. The process will take a few years.
I like to thank the Ministry for their reform initiative, and the Swiss Development Cooperation for their insights and financial support.