Strengthening vulnerable families

UNICEF encourages reduction of the number of children living in residential care by preventing family separation whenever possible.

Mother Semira, father Becir and daughter Atina Useinovski at their home
UNICEF Serbia/2014/Shubuckl

Over 2/3 of children in institutions are children with disabilities.

Every child has the right to live in a family environment, and large residential institutions cannot adequately support a child’s development.

Although the proportion of children placed in institutions is decreasing in comparison to family-based care, the total number of children in formal care doesn't decrease. 

Mother Tatjana and her son Stefan (5 years) playing with teddy bears.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Pancic

UNICEF encourages the reduction of the number of children living in residential care by preventing family separation whenever possible.

We are investing efforts to develop prevention services, for families living in multiple deprivations whose children are at risk of being separated from their parents and placed into care. 

UNICEF prioritises the downsizing of the remaining large-scale institutions focusing on children aged 0-3 and children with disabilities.

Around 25% of all children in formal care are Roma children.

We work to increase system capacities to scale-up family-based alternatives for children in care. We provide professional, evidence-based advice, build the capacity of social workers and other practitioners and model innovative services to support those most excluded from society. 

  • Around 7,500 children are separated from their families and live in the system of formal protection.
  • Around 80% of children in the formal protection system are placed in foster families, and 20% in residential institutions.
  • Around 25% of all children in formal care are Roma children.
  • Over two thirds of children in institutions are children with disabilities.

Over 900 families and 2,000 children supported by family outreach workers.