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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2014 Montenegro: Final Evaluation of the “Child Care System Reform”



Author: Camelia Gheorghe and Ajša Hadžibegović

Executive summary

With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. Please ensure that you check the quality of this evaluation report, whether it is “Outstanding, Best practice”, “Highly Satisfactory”, “Mostly Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” before using it. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 3’ of the report.

Background:

Montenegro is an EU candidate country. The EU accession process drives the policy agenda of the country. Observance of human rights represents an important part of the enlargement policy for Montenegro in accordance with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The country is facing serious economic difficulties. Families with children have been disproportionately hit by the economic crisis. Children are more exposed to poverty than adults. Every 10th child in Montenegro lives in poverty (14,500 children1). It is estimated that there are 18,000 children2 with development disabilities. Physical access barriers, social rejection, insufficient social care and public prejudices are among the most significant challenges for their social inclusion. The Government undertook important measures to improve the situation, most notably through promotion of inclusive education, the behaviour change campaign “It’s about Ability” (2010-2013), reform of the social welfare and child protection sector since 2011 and development over the last three years of day care services. In 2010, Montenegro had 367 children residing in institutions. The rate of institutionalization of children per capita was among the highest in Europe. With the reform of social care system and adoption of new legislation, the number of children in institutions significantly dropped to 236 in 2013. The total number of fostered children was slowly rising in the last years, reaching 348 children in 2013. Fostering mainly exists in the form of kinship care while non-kinship fostering is in its early stage of development.

The child protection system relied heavily on institutional care and on financial benefits according to the Law in 2005. The social and child protection reform was defined until recently by the Strategy for the Social and Child Welfare Development 2008-2012. The new law adopted in 2013 is broadly in line with the UNCRC and other relevant human rights standards. The country has a new Strategy for the Development of the Social and Child Protection System and a new National Action Plan for Children, both covering the period 2013-2017. The social protection system is established centrally, through the MoLSW. The welfare network comprises CSWs, social institutions (children’s home, homes for the elderly, etc.) and Day Care Centres (DCCs) for children with disability. The sector was weakened by the insufficient number of qualified professional staff and over-emphasis on administrative tasks. The range of social services was not sufficiently well developed either. The capacity building programmes carried out over the last years significantly improved the capacity of CSWs to deliver better services in a more coherent manner, based on improved cooperation with other services, families in need and NGOs, and with the support of a better data monitoring system. The system of quality assurance in the social and child protection system is in development phase. Montenegro ratified the UNCRC, CEDAW and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is supported in its efforts to address child rights issues by international partners, notably UNICEF and EU.

Purpose/Objective:

The purpose of the evaluation is to evaluate the final results and achievements of “Child Care System Reform” (component 3) of the Social Inclusion Project. The specific objectives are to provide feedback to UNICEF Montenegro and its national counterparts on the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability of the Project approach in strengthening the capacities of the Child Care System in implementing the reform for the benefit of the most vulnerable and excluded children and families; extract general lessons learnt and recommendations aimed at further enhancement of the Child Care system reform; provide the EUD with information on impact of their specific support to the reform of the system. The evaluation covers the entire implementation period January 2011 – July 2014 and the whole country, following the way the Project has been conceptualized in the Description of Action (DoA), preparatory documents and Theory of Change (ToC). The evaluation was carried out by Promeso Consulting (Romania), selected through competitive tender.

Methodology:

The evaluation was carried out in three phases. In the Inception/Desk Phase, the team reviewed the project documentation and all relevant literature and reference documents. Following the evaluability check, several primary data collection methods and evaluation tools were developed. The Field Phase was devoted to the collection of data from key stakeholders at national and local levels via semi-structured interviews, focus groups, discussion groups and site visits to a representative sample of municipalities. In the Synthesis Phase, the team applied the standard evaluation criteria analysis (relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability) in combination with Human Rights-Based Approach and Results-Based Management in order to assess the achievement of planned results, draw informed conclusions, identify lessons learnt and provide recommendations.

Findings and Conclusions:

The Project is highly relevant for Montenegro’s child care reform and national policies for improving the well-being of children and realisation of children’s rights as it addressed the top priorities of the reform. The Project is in line with country’s Strategy for the Development of the Social and Child Protection System and the Plan of Action for Children while its primary objectives are tied to the implementation of the recently adopted Law on Social and Child Protection. It is highly relevant for Montenegro’s international commitments deriving from the ratification of the UNCRC, CEDAW, OPCAT and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its status of EU candidate country, and aligned with EU and UNICEF country priorities. The Project addressed the most pressing needs for child deinstitutionalisation and prevention of child abandonment through inter-sectoral cooperation, as identified in the domestic and international reports and planning documents. It remained relevant in time, as documented by reports, policy documents and strategies adopted or under implementation during its lifetime. The multi-pronged approach (including working on policies and legislation, developing methodologies and tools, capacity building, investment in social infrastructure) and highly-participatory approaches used in the implementation of the Project were appropriate in view of the underlying ToC and its key assumptions.

Recommendations:

Strategic Recommendations (S):
S1: Further develop the capacity of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to better lead, plan, implement and monitor the process of social and child protection reforms
(Addressed to: MoLSW, with the assistance of UNICEF, UNDP and EU)
S2: Strengthen the managerial capacity of Centres for Social Work in order to support successful implementation of reforms at local level
(Addressed to: MoLSW, training providers, with the assistance of UNICEF, UNDP and EU)
S3: Accelerate the development of a strong cadre of social workers and a culture of lifelong learning within the Centres for Social Work to ensure that they keep pace with reforms and are empowered to address the needs of beneficiaries at high professional standards
(Addressed to: MoLSW, via the Institute for Social and Child Protection, in partnership with MoE, faculties of social work, and assisted by UNICEF)
S4: Further invest in the development and diversification of country-wide family and community-based social services to contribute to the social inclusion of the most vulnerable children and prevent unnecessary family separation
(Addressed to: MoLSW in partnership with MoE and MoH, local self-governments and CSOs, with the support of EU, UNICEF and other international partners)
S5: Prioritise the development of an efficient quality assurance system in the social and child protection system on the basis of transparent accreditation and licensing procedures
(Addressed to: MoLSW, Institute for Social and Child Protection, Social Inspection, with the support of EU, UNICEF and UNDP)
S6: Support the development of more evidence-based policies in the child protection system to inform efficient planning of resources and adjustment of policies to needs
(Addressed to: MoLSW, in collaboration with schools, NGOs, judiciary, penitentiaries, UNICEF)
S7: Further invest in tolerance building towards children with disability
(Addressed to: MoLSW and CSWs, in partnership with MoE, NGOs, media, parents)

Operational Recommendations (O):
O1: Accelerate the sustainable transformation of the Children’s Home ’Mladost’ into a performant multi-functional complex of services
(Addressed to: Mladost, MoLSW, CSW Herceg Novi, with the assistance of UNICEF and EU)
O2: Improve the design of future projects in terms of risks mitigation and gender mainstreaming
(Addressed to: UNICEF country office)

Lessons Learned:

1. Family and community-based services represent a significant breakthrough for child care, but most vulnerable and neglected children with disabilities could still be in danger.
2. Securing ownership and empowerment of national counterparts may decrease efficiency of support on short-term, but yield important investment returns on long-term.
3. Flexibility in project implementation is needed to cope with emerging needs and benefit of arising opportunities.

Find below:

"Report" - Evaluation Report
"Part 2" - Annexes
"Part 3" - GEROS



Full report in PDF

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Report information

Year:
2014

Country:
Montenegro

Region:
CEE/CIS

Theme:
Child Protection

Type:
Evaluation

Language:
English

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