EU and UNDP continue to support community based social services

Jul 4, 2013

Social inclusion of marginalized groups is one of highest priorities of Montenegro’s accession to the EU. To ensure sustainable and equal access to social welfare and child care system for all socially vulnerable people in the country, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare - in partnership with the EU Delegation in Montenegro and UNDP - increased efforts to plan and provide more funds for social services.

Within the framework of the IPA 2010 Project “Social Welfare and Child Care System Reform: Enhancing Social Inclusion”, another step in this direction was made by awarding grants for social services to municipalities, such as home assistance for the elderly, SOS telephone for victims of violence, improving occupational therapy as one of the segments of drug addiction recovery, provision of service of personal assistance for full and active participation of persons with disability...

Within the latest - third round of grants, 23 social services located in nine Montenegrin municipalities will be receiving €281,596.61 worth financial support to continue their operations and further develop activities. Almost 2,000 persons in Bar, Bijelo Polje, Nikšić, Šavnik, Mojkovac, Plužine, Ulcinj, Cetinje and Podgorica will benefit from this initiative in the period of nine months.

The grants will also help creation of new jobs for professionals and hard to employ persons, equipping of premises, training of personnel in organizations and service provider institutions, as well as raising of the awareness of population of the need for community based social services.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare started the project “IPA 2010 Social Welfare and Child Care System Reform: Enhancing Social Inclusion” in 2011, in partnership with the UNDP and UNICEF, financially supported by the EU. Partners in the project became social service providers, local civil society organizations, public institutions (the Union of Municipalities, social welfare centres, employment offices, and local public institutions), local Red Cross organizations and local self-governments.

Within the first round of grants distribution conducted in 2011, twelve services were supported with €249,827 in three pilot municipalities - Bar, Nikšić and Bijelo Polje. In 2012, through the second round, seventeen services worth €215,294 supported 1450 beneficiaries and created jobs for 60 persons in six municipalities: Bar, Nikšić, Bijelo Polje, Šavnik, Mojkovac and Ulcinj.

In the next period, financially supported and partnered by the EU Delegation to Montenegro, UNDP will also support the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in establishing and building capacities of the new Department for Development of Social Services, by applying procedures established through the previous rounds of grants distribution, as well as positive practices from the region and the European Union.

Also, in line with the new Law on Social Welfare and Child Protection, the EU Delegation to Montenegro and UNDP will continue to support the Ministry in drafting and implementation of respective bylaws, with special attention given to the ones regarding minimum standards of social services, licensing and accreditation and the work of social welfare centres.

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Presentation of supported social services and a Handbook on Non-State Social Service DeliveryModels '

UNDP Montenegro organized a media conference to present the third round of grants distribution for development and operating of community based social services, as well as the “Handbook on Non-State Social Service Delivery Models”.

The “Handbook on Non-State Social Service Delivery Models” is a result of years of practices and experiences of Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Armenia. The European Center for Not-for-Profit Law in collaboration with the UNDP Bratislava Regional Centre prepared it for practitioners in the field of planning, development and provision of community based social services. The recommendations from the Handbook should serve as an inspiration to service providers, but also to decision makers.

"No one can expect state authorities to finance all necessary social services; therefore it is necessary to explore all funding opportunities at the local level," says the publication. It also proposes decentralization along with creation of a framework for the financing of that kind of services at the local level.

At the presentation of the third round of grants and the Handbook, Mr Predrag Bošković, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare in the Government of Montenegro said that without the help of the European Union and UNDP the reform of social and child protection would not be possible at this scale. "Today we have nine municipalities in Montenegro using EU grants, with the heartfelt support of UNDP. The benefit of this project does not only regard the social inclusion system, but it also has a powerful practical impact on the labour market: 60 people got a job, out of which even 14 persons with disabilities. It is an indicator of how we should implement these or similar projects in the future and how to use EU funds in the best possible manner," said Minister Bošković.

Head of Operations Section at the European Union Delegation to Montenegro Mr. Andre Lys pointed out that non-institutional social protection is underdeveloped. "In some municipalities there is a number of good social protection services, while in some they do not exist. It is necessary to establish an effective national mechanism for coordinating the development of social services, and to provide a sustainable source of funding both at the national and local level," Mr. Lys explained.

Mr. Rastislav Vrbensky, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro emphasized: "All social service providers within the project will receive continuous technical and mentorship support from UNDP during the implementation of the 'Social Welfare System Reform'. UNDP will provide training on planning and service provision, project and financial management, monitoring, evaluation and reporting. This will contribute to building capacities for better quality services and will enable beneficiaries to get the service in their natural environment, family and local community." Regarding proper functioning of the system, Mr. Vrbensky also underlined that "it is an imperative that the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare strengthens its own capacities for the planning and provision of finance for social services."

Mayor of Mojkovac Dejan Medojević recalled that their local government has got involved in the project earlier, and now they are yielding results. "We will expand services from two to six local communities to include more senior citizens above 60 years of age. In order to continue with this project we will also try and allocate funds from our local budget," said Mayor Medojević.

Mayor of the Old Royal Capital of Cetinje Mr. Aleksandar Bogdanović said that their municipality would also provide home assistance for the elderly in rural areas: "The project will include 40 senior citizens from a total of 130 in rural areas. We will focus on support for service providers who will improve the quality of life of elderly single persons in rural area through a set of services including home assistance, health care and psycho-social support, through which elderly persons will take more active participation in social community. In addition, we will employ two persons from the Employment Bureau register," Mr. Bogdanović explained.

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Service provision is to a great extent contributing to exercising basic human rights, and the need to exercise human rights is the same for all. UNDP has a unique position to serve as a network for the transfer of knowledge and expertise across Western Balkan countries and globally. With its network of offices in the EU candidate countries and accession countries, UNDP is ideally placed to easily adapt successful development models from one country to another in domains of social sector reform and fight against social exclusion.

The project “Social Welfare and Child Care System Reform: Enhancing Social Inclusion” aiming at establishing a comprehensive, inclusive and sustainable social and child welfare system is implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, with technical support provided by UN Agencies in Montenegro – UNDP and UNICEF and with financial support from the European Union. UNDP implements component No. 2 worth 1.3mil Euro with the aim to build and strengthen institutional mechanisms and capacities which will enable development of social care services provided at the community level.

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