Child protection system
In Albania, UNICEF is major convener for a multitude of actors in supporting a child protection system building, that equally addresses both preventive and response approaches.
Albania has made remarkable efforts in recent years to establish the fundamental pillars for the Child Protection System. The core legislative and policy framework around child protection was significantly reinforced in 2017, with the adoption of the new Law on the Rights and Protection of the Child and the Criminal Justice for Children Code, both drafted with UNICEF’s extensive support. A dedicated institutional entity — The State Agency on Child Rights and Protection — grew a local network of Child Protection Workers (CPWs), which increases the outreach of Child Protection services everywhere. The process is aligned with a ‘systems building’ approach to child protection, focused on addressing root causes of children’s vulnerability, rather than symptoms alone. However, the entire system is in its infancy and requires significant support, especially at the service delivery level.
The new legal provisions require municipalities to provide at least one dedicated full time CPW if the number of children in that municipality is more than 3,000. Otherwise the CPWs are considered part-time. The law also requires that CPWs have social work background and experience. But that’s not the situation in 2018:
The biggest weakness of the system, besides a deficit in terms of available qualified workforce, is reflected in the uneven distribution of needed resources and capacities. According to the State Agency on Child Rights and Protection, there are massive disparities in the number of cases reported by different CPWs per year. In fact, out of existing 209 CPWs, only 83 CPWs reported that they managed one (or more) child protection case in 2016.
Without urgent action, the child protection system in Albania, and its work force, could be discredited by continuous inability to protect children.
UNICEF Albania supports the Albanian Government to build and strengthen a comprehensive and effective child protection system for all children. The main pillars of this approach consist of:
- Enhancing legislative and policy framework around child protection;
- Strengthening mechanisms and capacities of child protection work force for better prevention, identification, case management and response to cases of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect of children; and
- Wide public awareness with the objective to change social norms and achieve an increased reporting of child protection cases.
UNICEF advocates swift implementation of the Article 46 of Law on Child Rights and Protection, which obliges Municipalities (Social Services) to include child protection related matters in their local plans and facilitate a meaningful implementation of such plan(s).
UNICEF uses its convening power to ensure strong national collaboration among key child protection stakeholders to break the ‘silos’ and address the critical bottleneck of child protection work force’s capacities through united front. With this objective in mind in 2018 UNICEF sealed a long-term collaboration agreement in the area of child protection with the Save the Children, World Vision, Terre des Hommes and OSCE offices in Albania.
Major shift in public awareness and public attitude towards children’s protection UNICEF is addressing through direct involvement of peer educators, children and child protection champions in every initiative within the child protection program framework.
These resources represent just a small selection of materials produced by UNICEF globally and its partners in Albania. The list is regularly updated to include the latest information.