SARAJEVO, 28 May, 2019 – The three-year “Transformation of Child Care Institutions and Prevention of Family Separation” programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina has strengthened child care systems to help ensure all children realize their right to grow up in a caring family environment, but further investments are needed to reach the most vulnerable children, said UNICEF today.
The programme, funded by a 1 million Euro grant from the European Union was implemented by UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Republika Srpska, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Federal Ministry of Health.
The programme’s key achievements were announced at a conference organized by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and UNICEF today. These included expanding community-based services to prevent family separation, strengthening foster care systems, training all social workers through the Centres for Social Welfare in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska in foster care and education, and the ongoing transformation of four residential children’s homes into community-based service centres for vulnerable children and their families.
The external evaluation of the Programme presented in today’s conference concluded that the relevant ministries, social welfare professionals, as well as children and families welcomed the results achieved, with a strong degree of local ownership, and commitment to further advance the reform of the child care systems.
Speaking at the closing of the conference, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Afshan Khan, recognized the important work being done to end placing children in large scale institutions. Further investments were needed, however, as many children still remain at risk of being unnecessarily separated from their families, particularly families living in poverty, she added
“The most vulnerable children, including those with disabilities and children from marginalized groups such as Roma communities, continue to be overrepresented in institutional care,” said Khan. “Further investments in community-based services that prevent the most vulnerable families from being separated is critical in achieving deinstitutionalization of all children in Bosnia and Herzegovina and across the Region.”
The Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Khaldoun Sinno, said that the final programme evaluation provided key findings and recommendations on the way forward. “Protection and promotion of the rights of the child is one of the objectives of the European Union. The overall goal of our support is to ensure that all children but in particular children without parental care, children at risk of separation from their families, and children with disabilities, enjoy equal rights and status with other children in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Sinno.
Key recommendations from the evaluation include an ambitious, properly funded child care reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This approach would combine systematic deinstitutionalization and sustainable funding for social services oriented towards ensuring that children can grow up safe and protected in their own families, with a stronger emphasis on prevention.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. More than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.