SOS Telephone for Women and Children Victims of Violence – Podgorica (SOS Podgorica) in collaboration with the Ministry ofLabor and Social Welfare, held a round table discussion with the topic “Providing of social services to the most vulnerable groups: Challenges & Opportunities in the implementation of new Law on Social and Child Protection” on Friday, 28th March of 2014 in PR Center Podgorica
Over 50 participants including members of National Network, representatives of UNICEF, UNDP, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, Social Welfare Centers and media discussed main problems in implementation of the new Law on Social and Child Protection.
Key speakers were Mrs. Biljana Zeković – Executive Director of the SOS Telephone for Women and Children Victims violencePodgorica, Mr. Predrag Boskovic – Minister of Labour and Social Welfare of Montenegro, Mr. Rastislav Vrbenski – UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro, Mr. Benjamin Perks – UNICEF Representative in Montenegro,and Mr. Igor Vucinic – Chief Directorate of risky groups, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare.
Biljana Zeković, director of SOS Telephone Podgorica, Montenegro coordinator, opened round table introducing IRIS network and National Network of Montenegro.” Network consists of 30 credible organizations that deal with providing support to children,youth, the elderly, victims of domestic violence, persons with disabilities and migrants. Great interest of a large number of organizations and institutions for our Network speaks about the importance of this topic and how strong are the initiatives fornetworking and cooperation of all sectors” said Zekovic.
In the opinion of Predrag Boskovic, Minister of Labor and Social Welfare of the Government of Montenegro, the Law on Social and Child Protection in Monetengro is better than the laws that apply in the region and that today the social and child protectionis improving each year. “If we want to have quality social and child protection in Montenegro, it is impossible to separate state responsibility and accountability of NGOs. In order to achieve the best results it is necessary that there is good communicationbetween them and based on that to identify problems and work together to resolve them” said Boskovic.
Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative to Montenegro, thinks that reform of the social welfare system should include five steps. The first step is to reform the legal framework, the second is to strengthen the institutional framework, the third is to build the capacity of providers of social services, the fourth increase in the number of day care centers, until now there is only eight day care centers in municipalities of Montenegro and the fifth step is to change behavior and attitudes towards inclusion ofchildren with disabilities. He emphasized the enormous contribution of civil society to reform of social and child protection.
Rastislav Vrbenski, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Montenegro, said that a comprehensivereform of the social welfare is one of the key undertakings of the Government in the ongoing process of EU integration. In his opinion, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare is making great efforts to improve the legal and institutional pre-conditionsnecessary for the harmonization of international standards and best practices from the region and the European Union. Vrbenskisaid that the UNDP and UNICEF in this area will still provide technical support with special emphasis on the development and adoption of a series of ordinances that need to: provide adequate implementation of the newly adopted Law on Social and Child Protection, the formation of the Institute for Social and child welfare, the establishment of the Directorate for the development of social and child protection.
Roundtable was attended, beside already mentioned, by representatives of CSO networks that provide social services in Montenegro to specific target groups such as youth at risk, the elderly, persons with disabilities, victims of domestic and migrant workers; and representatives of the institution: Centre for Social Work – Berane, Center for Social Work – Crikvenica, Center forSocial Work – Podgorica, Podgorica Health, Bureau for Refugees, Centre for Child and Family Support Bijelo Polje, Center for Mental Health