European Union and UNICEF strengthen municipalities in conducting social programming for children and families in Georgia

A high-level meeting brought together mayors of eighteen municipalities to review social programming for children and discuss next steps

08 April 2024
A high-level meeting on strengthening municipalities.
UNICEF Georgia

AKHALTSIKHE, Georgia, 8 April 2024. Mayors and deputy mayors of 12 municipalities gathered in Akhaltsikhe to review the progress in implementation of the needs-based social programming at municipal levels. The meeting was part of the three-year programme “Strengthening Systems and Services for Child Protection in Georgia, which was funded by the European Union and implemented by UNICEF. The municipality component of the project, implemented in partnership with the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG), aimed to strengthen comprehensive, decentralized, child-centered, and needs-based social programming and enhance social work in municipalities to provide better support for children and their families.

The high-level meeting was organized by the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, UNICEF and the National Association of Local Authorities (NALAG) with support from the European Union.

“Social policy at the local level needs proper support in order to strengthen child protection systems and services, and our efforts in this direction are becoming more important, especially to consider the transfer of additional powers to municipalities and the development of evidence-based programmes," said Mzia Giorgobiani, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure.

“Strong municipalities are crucial for Georgia’s path to EU membership,” said Jesper Moller, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “This initiative fostered more structured partnerships between local authorities on social programming and focused on peer-to-peer exchanges to jointly find innovative solutions for shared local challenges. The partner municipalities are now better equipped to provide the needed support for families and children at the local level. Thanks to support from the European Union and in partnership with National Association of Local Self-Government of Georgia, we will continue to further strengthen municipalities ensuring that they are able to respond to the needs of families and children in their communities”, Moller added.

The initiative achieved the following:

  • 18 pilot municipalities learned to develop needs-based, and child-centred social programmes to better support the most vulnerable families with children. The social programmes were based on assessing the needs of families and children that enabled the pilot municipalities to address the unmet needs of the local communities through the introduction of relevant initiatives.
  • The Intermunicipal Platform on Social Issues in the Samegrelo region was established to share experiences and best practices on social programming. The shared service provision is now being piloted in the region, and it will later be expanded to other regions as well.
  • The analysis of national legislation was conducted to identify barriers for effective participation of municipalities in the social protection of children and families.
  • The central government has recognized the needs-based and child-centred approach to social programming as a best practice and has convened all municipalities to adopt similar approaches. 
  • Situational analysis of municipal social work was conducted in 10 selected municipalities, and a concept for strengthening municipal social work and services was developed.
  • A model for parents’ education and family support service was developed and piloted in 10 selected municipalities.

“This project was very useful because it equipped us with specific skills and competences, which we will use and even expand after the project ends,” said Tamar Dakhundaridze, the Deputy Mayor of Kutaisi. “The needs we identified as part of the assessment helped us to make correct decisions. The study was initially about families with children, and we are planning to expand it now to assess the needs of other groups in the local population as well.”

The insights and lessons learned from the project will inform the design of future strategies for both municipalities and the central government.

The initiative responds to the new role of municipalities defined by the Code on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 2019. Based on the Code, Georgian municipalities are granted a significant role in child protection and support. This role is two-fold: firstly, municipalities should be able to identify families and children in need and support them through social work and social services that are available in the community; secondly, municipalities should also be able to identify social needs in the community and address them by developing child-centred social programmes.

Media contacts

Maya Kurtsikidze
Communication Specialist, Head of Communication Section
UNICEF Georgia

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/georgia/

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About the European Union

For more than 30 years, the European Union has built a close partnership with Georgia, supporting its development through knowledge and experience sharing, expertise, innovation and financial support. The relationship between the EU and Georgia is based on shared values of peace, freedom, democracy, human rights and inclusive economic growth. More about the EU’s support in Georgia https://eu4georgia.eu/the-european-union-in-georgia/

About the project

The three-year project ‘Strengthening Systems and Services for Child Protection in Georgia’ is funded by the European Union. It aims to strengthen legislation, policies and guidelines that support the de-institutionalization process and to enhance the capacity of the professional workforce at central and municipal levels to support and protect children and families in Georgia.