Protection of Children without Parental Care - Action Steps Agreed
Following the presentation of the Situation Analysis of the Protection of Children Deprived of Parental Care in FBiH, over 70 participants from various institutions and organizations set up a plan for the implementation of the Policy for Protection of Children Deprived of Parental Care and Families at Risk of Separation in FBiH 2006-2016. The analysis, among other things, showed that out of 77 Centers for Social Welfare in the FBiH only 27 of them are familiar with the existence of the Policy document, and that only 14 of them have been taking some measures on its implementation, showing the lack of a systemic implementation of the Policy which is often left to the goodwill and enthusiasm of individual professionals.
Mr Asim Zecevic, Deputy Minister for Work and Social Policy explained that in the Federation there is a good policy to protect these children and this report offers a baseline to enable governments and partners to develop plans and allocate resources to ensure the policy implemented and the rights of these marginalized children are protected. “There has been certain weaknesses in the collection of data for the analysis, such as the data itself collected in the field, a lack of resources and legislation in this area, certain deficiencies in terms of institutional capacities and professional skills and also a lack of the presence and involvement of NGOs in this field. However, all the shortcomings in this analysis do not diminish its value as it has established the real situation within this field in the Federation.” - said Mr Zecevic.
As an example, analysis shows that over 60% of children were separated from their parents for only one reason (usually because of the bad economic situation), indicating that adequate prevention and support to families at risk could contribute to substantially reduce the reasons for separation and avoid automatic placement in institutions, in which a significant number of children stay the whole childhood.
Ms Anisija Radenković, Director of Hope and Homes for Children BiH, highlighted the fact that the Policy document was adopted by both the Federation government and the Federation parliament back in 2008; however, the Analysis shows that little has been done since then to improve the situation of children deprived of parental care and families at risk. “It is our joint responsibility to urgently act in the best interest of children and ensure that as many of them as possible are cared for in family environment” – said Ms Radenković.
The Situation Analysis showed that more than 2/3 of children who are without primary caregivers are placed in one of the 14 institutions of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“According to the Convention on the rights of the child, institutional placement has to be a measure of last resort. The family is the best environment and in case where children are deprived of their family environment or where it is not in their best interest to remain in their family, they should, as much as possible, have access to alternative care systems such as substitute families.” – reminded UNICEF Representative in BiH, Ms. Florence Bauer, adding that it is important to remember that most of the children without primary caregivers are coming from the poorest and most marginalized parts of the society. This is one the reasons why UNICEF, with its equity focus agenda, wishes to highlight this specific issue and to advocate and support all stakeholders to address this specific vulnerability affecting children, especially the most marginalized ones.