Implementing the foster care development strategy in Montenegro
MILOCER, July 23 - 27, 2012 - In order for every child in Montenegro to grow up in a safe and warm family environment, it is necessary to improve the foster care system. For this reason, more than 30 professionals from the Social Work Centres, municipalities, NGOs and media have learned today about foster care and fulfilment of every child’s right to live in a family.
''Every child has right to live in a family. For children who cannot be raised by their own families, an appropriate alternative family environment such as a foster family should be provided. Placing children in institutions should be used only ever as a temporary measure of last resort. A key component of the ongoing child care system reform is expansion of fostering in Montenegro. The aim is for foster parents and those who adopt a child to continuously receive appropriate support, education and services that will help them provide a loving and supportive family environment,'' said UNICEF Representative Benjamin Perks.
Seminar participants are mostly employees from the Social Work Centres, which are in constant communication with the current and future foster families. Professionals from the Social Work Centre in Herceg Novi say that foster care has being discussed since the 1990s, but they admit that their skills and knowledge need to be improved.
'‘Today’s training for professionals comes at the right time, since many centres have plenty of young employees who have not yet had the chance to acquire new skills and knowledge. In these three days, we will all have a chance to improve our knowledge.’' Vukica Novaković from the Social Work Centre in Herceg Novi pointed out.
There are currently 116 children without parental care living in the children’s home ‘Mladost’ in Bijela. Advancing the foster care system in Montenegro will allow these children to realize their right to live in a family.
‘What we can offer in an institution is care, health care and education, the same things are provided by a foster family. But, what we cannot provide is the warmth of a family home. That is why I think this is a good way of abolishing the institutions in their current form,’ Assistant Director of the Children’s Home ‘Mladost’ in Bijela Slavica Ilić stressed out.
NGO ‘Children’s Rights Centre’ has been supporting foster families for years. Most of these families are providing kinship care. One of the goals of this training is to increase the number of professional foster parents who are not related to the foster child.
'‘I have to say that foster care exists, but kinship care is definitely more present. This is good and we have to work on improving it and strenghtening kinship care, but we also have to develop other forms of foster care,’' Jelena Gluščević from NGO ‘Centre for Child Rights’ said.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare points out that the Foster Care Strategy was adopted in March and that foster care will be promoted in future as the best form of protection for children without parental care.
'‘In that regard, we plan to adopt foster care standards, organize seminars and trainings, as well as education of social workers to enable them to select the first foster families and work with them,’ advisor to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Svetlana Sovilj explained.
Adopting the 2012-2016 Foster Care Strategy is part of the €3 million project ‘Reform of the Social and Child Protection System: Improving Social Inclusion’ financed by the EU and implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Health with technical support from UNICEF and UNDP.