Social protection

UNICEF works with the government of Albania to help provide access to social protection services for the poorest families

Social Care Reform
UNICEF/ALB/2016/Giacomo Pirozzi

The challenge

Too many families in need of social protection still face barriers accessing it. Discrimination against the most vulnerable children prevents many from receiving the benefits and services they are entitled to. Until now, social care services in Albania were limited and provided largely by non-state agencies. Existing social services are fragmented, rudimentary and ad-hoc in nature.

Public authorities took time to realize that providing these services in the most effective way possible is not a luxury, but an investment in a fundamental right.

When countries invest in #socialprotection for children, everybody benefits from a more productive fairer society.

The solution

Social care reform

In November 2016, after four years of intensive work, the Albanian government adopted the Law on Social Care Services and laid the foundation for a system of integrated services for vulnerable families and children.

The law clearly directs both central and local governments to cover social care services and the setting up of a Social Fund as a separate budget line to finance these services, to be transferred to local government units (LGUs).

Although the system is to be planned and implemented at the local level the challenge is to translate such legislation into concrete action. Therefore, the focus of UNICEF’s assistance from now on is to support national partners in planning action and to take gradual steps towards making the system work.

For the first time, a Social Pact has been signed promising 70 new services across the country, particularly for 27 municipalities with no social services from before. The Social Pact aims to bring together all agencies operating in this field, with a view to ensure that each citizen has equal access to services offered by the state and other providers with licenses to offer such services.  

We are working to ensure that vulnerable children get quality education, nutrition and health care, and live in caring family environments. To reach the most vulnerable children and for their families to benefit from social protection, the Albanian government, with support from UNICEF, is looking to simplify procedures, ensure that cash assistance is increased and that information is available to better spread the word about available support.

Social protection for children is a right, not a handout and must be available to all.

UNICEF’s advocacy places child poverty high in the national development agenda. In collaboration with the Institute of Statistics  we are working to understand how statistics on income and living conditions  data can be and analysed to make better data on child poverty and different monetary and non-monetary deprivations public. This can further inform policy decisions in social protection and other sectors.

We will continue to support the functioning of integrated social protection programmes for families and children through the establishment of appropriate social protection structures in municipalities, and recruitment of qualified personnel. This is an effort coordinated with UNDP, UNFPA and UN Women, under the umbrella of a Joint UN “Leave No One Behind” project funded by the Government of Switzerland.

In close partnership with the government we will also enable LGUs to develop, implement and monitor social care plans and establish a resource social fund; support the ministries of health and social protection to develop and roll out a capacity-building plan for social care services.

Resources

For further reading

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.

Supporting Planning of Social Care Services Basket of Services (2016)

Supporting Planning of Social Care Services Vulnerability Mapping (2015)

Supporting Planning of Social Care Services Roles and Functions (2016)

A survey of children of children resident in public and non-public institutions in Albania (2014)

Four years of hard work bears fruit

For many years in Albania neither child protection and development nor prevention of family poverty was prioritised within the social-protection system. Vulnerability to neglect and lack of basic services plagued many Albanians and in many cases economic assistance was the only support provided. Social-care services were very limited, ad-hoc in nature and provided largely by non-state agencies. For the public authorities, it took time to realize that providing these services in the most effective way possible was not a luxury – but an investment for the society. Read more ...