Social protection

UNICEF encourages financial support and social care services to protect and invest in children.

Social Protection


Globally, children are overrepresented among the poor, accounting for almost half of all people living in extreme poverty. Children are disproportionately hit by poverty and deprivation. Poverty harms children both while they are living through it, and in its long-term consequences. Almost one in three children (31 percent) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia and Herzegovina) lives in consumption-based poverty. Poor children are significantly more deprived in every dimension according to the findings from the Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2015).

The main challenges for social services, social work and case management in Bosnia and Herzegovina are decentralization, accountability, standards and financing. Despite relatively high allocations of GDP to the social protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina, funds are not well targeted, and there is room to improve the effectiveness and efficiency in programs to protect children and to prevent and alleviate poverty. Additionally, the potential of cash transfers cannot be unleashed because of limited coverage of the poor. In addition, transfer values are too low to make a real difference in beneficiaries’ lives.

For children who experience discrimination and exclusion because of disability, gender, ethnicity or language, poverty reinforces and exacerbates the deprivations associated with being in a marginalized group and vice versa.

The specific needs of young people are rarely the focus of social protection systems, even though failing to invest in youth can have long-term implications for society. A lack of formal work history, resulting from their age and high degree of participation in the informal sector, significantly hinders the access of young people to social protection.


UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina advocates for ongoing social protection reforms. These include redirecting resources towards cash assistance for children, or expanding coverage among vulnerable groups (e.g., reaching children with disabilities, extending to adolescents, ensuring greater coverage of young children). UNICEF advocates and mobilizes stakeholders leading social protection reforms, and convenes actors to disseminate best practices and knowledge exchange.

Integrated social protection and inclusion systems have been strengthened in 34 percent of the country’s municipalities, resulting in over 1,300 of the most vulnerable children and families benefitting from a range of social services, such as day-care services for children with disabilities and mobile outreach teams for out-of-school Roma and rural children.

Under the Enhancing the Social protection and Inclusion programme (SPIS) and other initiatives supported by the European Union Delegation, relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and UNICEF have jointly developed and implemented a Social Protection and Inclusion (SPI) model in one-third of municipalities.

The SPI model is a comprehensive, multifaceted and long-term intervention, with incremental goals in key areas of social protection and inclusion policies and services for children. It is designed to help eradicate social exclusion, child poverty, discrimination and inequality, to help everyone access basic social services in communities, and to meet international child rights obligations.


systemic approach

The model focuses on:

  • Strengthening multisector cooperation, including expertise of social services providers
  • Improved implementation of protection and inclusion policies for children and families
  • Including the participation of children and young people as change agents
  • Building innovative services and approaches to social and child protection, early childhood development and inclusive education
  • Encouraging cooperation and referral systems between decision-makers, service providers and other relevant institutions working to protect vulnerable children.

A goal of in the social protection and inclusion programme strategy is to reach 50 percent of Bosnia and Herzegovina municipalities. To reach its goal, the SPI model requires strengthening cooperation between various sectors, particularly education, health care, social protection, finances, judiciary and internal affairs—all working with both civil society and the private sector.

UNICEF will continue to promote and expand the SPI model by supporting the work of multisectoral commissions, strengthening the capacities of local Centres for Social Welfare, and the providing services to the most vulnerable children, such as day care centres for children with disabilities, family counselling, home care, etc.