EU support to boost social inclusion in Montenegro
PODGORICA, 23 February 2011 – The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Education and Sport, the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, UNICEF and UNDP launched “The Social Welfare and Child Care System Reform – Enhancing Social Inclusion” project at a press conference held in Podgorica.
Within this project, UNICEF will support the Government of Montenegro to accelerate the child care system reform in Montenegro. The approach will be holistic, multi-sectoral and multi-layered, addressing the following aspects of reform: revision of the legal framework and introduction of robust standards, capacity development across the health, education and social welfare sectors, behaviour change communication, and introduction of new services and strengthening of existing ones to support inclusion.
Notably, the legal and policy framework, in particular the Law on Social and Child Protection, will be harmonized with international norms and standards, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The focus will also be on the provision of services that will allow every child in Montenegro to grow up in a supportive, protective and caring family environment.
“Development of foster care will be a major undertaking. It will include the revision of the relevant legal framework, capacity building of relevant professionals and setting up of a preparatory program for future foster families. Through an awareness raising campaign on fostering we will stimulate Montenegro’s families to provide a warm and loving home to children in need,” said Noala Skinner, UNICEF Representative in Montenegro.
During this project UNICEF will also support prevention of abandonment, initiate the process of finding a family environment for children without parental care living in the children’s home “Mladost” Bijela, focusing in the first instance on children under 3, and find appropriate family-type alternatives for children with disability currently living in institutional care, including those staying at the Institute “Komanski Most”.
A number of activities will be carried out with the aim to sensitize and raise awareness of the general public on the rights of vulnerable children. This will include a follow-up to the first phase of the campaign “It’s About Ability” – undertaken with the highest levels of support from the European Union Delegation to Montenegro and the Government. “We will increase the call to Montenegro’s citizens to welcome children with disabilities into homes, communities and hearts and through the project provide enhanced means to support the potential of children with disability,” said Skinner.
The Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Suad Numanovic explained that project is composed of three components.
The second and third components concern the reform of the social welfare and the child protection system. The implementation of these components will be coordinated by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare with the expertise and technical support from UNICEF and UNDP, according to Numanovic.
The Head of Operations Section in the European Union Delegation to Montenegro, Nicola Bertolini underscored the importance of social inclusion for the European Union and that this is the right time for implementation of the Social Welfare and Child Care System Reform.
“In the Analytical report accompanying the Commission Opinion on Montenegro’s application for membership of the European Union 2010 , it is written that an overall multi-sectoral reform of the social and child protection system, in line with UN and UNICEF standards, is needed," said Bertolini.
The “Social Welfare and Child Care System Reform – Enhancing Social Inclusion” project will be implemented by the Government of Montenegro with the expertise and technical support from UNICEF and UNDP and financial support from the European Union worth 3 million Euros.