The Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Suad Numanovic
PODGORICA, 21 June, 2012. - Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Suad Numanovic, UNICEF Representative for Montenegro Benjamin Perks and Acting Head of Delegation of the European Union in Montenegro, Alberto Cammarata opened the presentation on National Strategy on Fostering for 2012-2016.
Around 370 children in Montenegro grow up in institutions because their biological parents cannot care for them. Out of the 130 children living in Bijela orphanage, more than 20% are under the age of three.
‘No child under the age of three should be placed in an institution. Child placement, in any kind of institution, should be a measure of last resort and for the shortest time possible,’’ UNICEF Representative Benjamin Perks said.
Fifty years of research demonstrate that children in institutions will not develop in the same way as children living in families. Normal child development requires frequent one-to-one interactions with a care-giver. Institutions cannot provide this. For this reason, many surveys equate placing children in institution with neglect.
‘‘We will work intensively on the development of foster care services as the most desirable alternative forms of protection of children without parental care. In addition to already adopted strategies, we plan to adopt the standards that will closer define fostering service, and we also plan to start a campaign to raise public awareness about the benefits and importance of foster care,’’ Numanovic said.
Participants listening to the presentation of National Strategy on Fostering
Montenegro’s new Law on Child and Social Protection should provide the legal basis for developing kinship, fostering, adoption and other services aimed at ensuring that every child grows up in a safe and loving family environment.
This is not only in line with the international standards and Montenegro’s path to EU membership, but it is also more cost-effective. Institutional care has been shown to cost on average three times more than foster care according to an EU and WHO funded survey on the costs of institutional and foster care among EU countries in 2003.
‘‘We have to ensure that the social welfare system works, so that the families, who are ready to welcome the children, are well prepared. Then, we also have to make sure that the health sector is better organized in order to offer support to vulnerable mothers, because the real objective of all our efforts is to prevent institutionalisation, by helping the vulnerable mothers, as much as we can, to have their children with them” said Acting Head of Delegation of the European Union in Montenegro Alberto Cammarata.
Adoption of Fostering Strategy for Montenegro for 2012 - 2016 is part of ‘The Social Welfare and Child Care System Reform: Enhancing Social Inclusion’ project implemented by the Government of Montenegro, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Education with technical assistance of UNICEF, UNDP and with financial support from the European Union in the amount of 3 million Euros.
The goal of the overall project is to support the social and child welfare reform process in Montenegro including to ensure that every child has their right to live in a family environment fulfilled.
Because family has no alternative. A child’s place is within a family. – it was concluded at the presentation of the National Strategy on Fostering in Montenegro 2012-2016.