New Support Centre for Foster Families opened to expand family-based services for children without parental care

26 July 2021
UNICEF Representative and Minister of Labour and Social Policy UNICEF MK
UNICEF/2021/Georgiev

26 July 2021:  UNICEF, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and partners opened today the first Support Centre for Foster Families in the country to promote family-based care for children without parental care and to provide support to new and existing foster families.

"The main task of the Center for Support of Foster Families is to assist and guide foster families so that they can provide exactly the kind of care that the child in their foster care needs. The expert team will be providing support, training, advice and guidance to foster families to jointly pursue "the best interests of the child", as required by the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said the Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Jagoda Shahpaska. “Another, no less important role of the Center for Support of Foster Families is to promote foster care. Currently, there are about 300 foster families who take care of about 500 children, but we expect these numbers to continue to increase, so that every child in need can be cared for in a family environment."

The new service will help mobilise foster parents who have a sincere desire and motivation to provide care to a child in need, including children with disabilities, babies, child victims of violence or neglect, and children exposed to risks.  

“There is nothing that can replace the love and support provided in a family environment.  When the care of a family is removed, it is heart-breaking for the child and can be damaging for their growth and development.” said Patrizia Di Giovanni, UNICEF Representative.  “This is why foster family care, even for a short period of time, is the best way to ensure every child receives adequate care, love and dedication - the type of things we would all expect for our own children.”

The network is expanding with the opening of the second Support Centre for Foster Families on Wednesday, 29 July 2021 in Bitola within the premises of the previous "Home for Infants and Toddlers - Bitola" which has transformed in 2019 after all children were resettled in community-based alternatives. The centers will help identify foster carers in every municipality making sure a connection with the child’s family, community, and cultural background is maintained.

The promotion and strengthening of the foster care system in North Macedonia is part of a wider child-care reform, underpinned by the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, which recognise that children grow and develop best in a nurturing and loving environment, supported by caring and responsive adults.

With support from the UK Government, UNICEF contributed to the foster care system strengthening by providing technical assistance for development of foster care standards, procedures, toolkits, training materials and specialized modules, and specifications for support centers for foster families, and supported the capacity development component for the professionals working in the foster care system.

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