Stakeholders brought together at the UNICEF Conference to discuss the challenges facing Ukraine’s system of social services
The international "Quality Social Services for Families with Children" conference, which took place on 15-17 September, brought together representatives of the Government of Ukraine, local governments, international and non-governmental organizations, and experts. The conference was intended to streamline efforts and identify vectors for further work to build an effective system of social services at the local level.
The dialogue platform was organized by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) with support from the Government of Germany and the German Development Bank (KfW), in partnership with the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, the World Bank, and the Council of Europe.
The conference agenda was built around four main topics: the principles and methods of social services, social service budgeting, staffing, and innovations in the social service system. The main target audience of the conference was professionals responsible for provision of social services at local level: heads of administrations, heads of departments, heads of institutions that provide social services, social workers, and lecturers, who train those specialists.
“Decentralization reform is strengthening the role of communities in different areas, including social services and child protection. This localization brings services closer to the most vulnerable groups, but also creates new challenges for communities. We all - the Government, local authorities, international organizations and the expert community - have come together to ensure the sustainability, continuity and development of social support”, said Maryna Lazebna, Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine.
The participants discussed the challenges of coordinating social systems in communities in line with the current reforms, sought creative solutions for the qualitative transformation of the social services system, and exchanged effective practices.
The most frequently raised issues were staffing and qualification of specialists, financing of social services, challenges in matters of legal regulation, intersectoral cooperation, and the creation of demand for social services among the population. Community representatives were also interested in where to start building a system of social services and how to develop it.
“The impact of COVID-19 has exacerbated families’ and children’s need for social services. For Ukraine, where the process of transforming the social services system at the local level is still ongoing, this has become a serious challenge. But at the same time, it is an impetus for development and change that we must take advantage of”, said Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.
“Council of Europe promotes development of the social human rights within the framework of the CoE-Ukraine Action Plan for 2018-2021, in particular - within the framework of the Council of Europe Project "Promoting social human rights as a key factor of sustainable democracy in Ukraine". Therefore, such events are of great importance for coordination between partners, implementation of best practices and standards of the Council of Europe, raising awareness on social rights and the European Social Charter. This helps to develop in Ukraine a truly accessible, fair and, most importantly, effective system of social services”, said Olena Lytvynenko, Deputy Head of the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine.
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.