Round table – Podgorica, Montenegro

Round table – Podgorica, Montenegro

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

Public debate in Serbia

Public debate in Serbia

Public debate was held in National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia at Friday, 7th of March 2014.
Main topic of discussion was “Perspectives on Sustainability of funding support to children and vulnerable groups beneficiaries of social services”. The debate was organized by member of IRIS Network “Educational Center” Leskovac, “Society for the Development of Children and Youth – Open Club” in collaboration with the Government Office for Cooperation with Civil Society.

The aim of the conference was to encourage a consensus among decision-makers, experts and civil society around the needs of effective coordination and use of available local resources and future EU funds earmarked for social inclusion of vulnerable and marginalized groups.

Public debate was opened by National Assembly Speaker Nebojsa Stefanovic, after which Mr Michel Saint-Lot, UNICEF Serbia Representative, greeted the present. Among the key speakers were: Gordan Velev, IRIS-regional networks of social service providers, Sasa Stojanovic – MODS Association for the Development of Children and Youth Outdoor Club, Brankica Jankovic, State Secretary, Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, Ivana Cirkovic, Director of the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs, Marija Sijan, the Fund for the social inclusion of children, Zarko Šunderić, SIPRU Fund for Inclusion, Milena Banovic, Government Office for cooperation with Civil society organizations.

Hall of the National Assembly was filled with around one hundred representatives of NGOs that deal with social service provision and over 20 journalists from different media houses from Serbia.  Some of the most important and popular media informed public about the event, and we raised important questions about social services and child protection in wider public in Serbia.

CSO representatives from all around the Serbia had chance to emphasize their biggest problems and concerns and also to ask questions to government representatives. Owing to the huge interest for this event and important topic we discussed, many people didn’t have a chance to participate. Because of that we had had live stream of the debate and also live twitter chat in which people could ask questions and give comments to speakers in the debate.

Open debate – Kosovo

Open debate – Kosovo

Open debate in Kosovo was organized 13th February 2014. in Governmental Building of Kosovo. Around 50 present representatives from Government, Local Institutions and non-governmental organizations that deal with the provision of social services discussed on the main topic “The role of institutions and non-governmental organizations in providing social services and their challenges”.
Biggest part of the discussion was related to domestic violence, which remains a serious problem in Kosovo, with about 420 cases already having been reported this year. On average, the police registers somewhere around 1,000 such complaints per year and the majority of those reporting it, 4 out of 5, are women. According to Naime Sherifi, executive director of the Centre for Protection of Women and Children, the centre has sheltered some 881 victims of domestic violence since 2000. She further adds that “the situation is troubling” and that six to ten women die each tear due to spousal abuse.  Despite boasting a female president and gender quotas in the parliament, Kosovo is still very much a patriarchal society where women are mostly responsible for the home and children. Women also tend to have an average of two years less education than men and are faced with a staggering unemployment rate of 30.9 %.

“Laws related to social services scheme in Kosovo should be subject to increased monitoring associated with determining the level of their application by the relevant state institutions” was one of the main recommendations made on this debate.

Croatian national network

Croatian national network

Meeting for interested organizations from region of Slavonija, Baranja and Middle Dalmacija took place in town Osjek on 25th of December.  In inaugural meeting 33 representatives of organizations engaged in the development and delivery of various types of social services discussed of and established Croatian National network.

KONEKTA – National network of Serbia

KONEKTA – National network of Serbia

Education Center Leskovac( EDC) organized meeting for establishment of Serbian network of CSOs on 15th of December.  They named new network Konekta and it is opened to all interested service providers. Through this project , members of the network Konekta will receive expert support through active , mutual learning and exchange of experiences (peer review method ) and direct mentoring support in the following areas : minimum standards of social protection , licensing organizations and individuals for provision of social services and the accreditation of training programs , entry criteria and priorities of beneficiaries receiving social care, control of the organization and services , monitoring and evaluation, etc.

To make this network more efficient and visible EDC made website ( http://konekta.org/) with all partner organizations.

Konekta consisting of 20 organizations from Arilje, Brus, Coka,  Dimitrovgrad, Golubac, Ivanjica, Kikinda, Knjaževac, Krupanj, Krusevac, Ljubovija, Novi Pazar, Presevo, Prokuplje, Sjenica, Topola, Trstenika,  Valjevo, Velika Plana and Vlasotinca.  About 700 users receive services provided within the existing network Konekta.

Regional Network meeting

Regional Network meeting

The Regional Network meeting took place on 9th and 10th of December 2013, in Belgrade , at Palace of Serbia. The thematic topic of this meeting was “Promoting Active Inclusion and Social Cohesion in the Western Balkans and Building of network of CSO providers of social services” . The event was organized by the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB), the Social Inclusion and Poverty Unit Serbia, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and SOLIDAR, Belgium.

The event was attended by representatives from the Civil and Governmental sectors from South Eastern Europe and the EU next to the presentation of the findings of the Baseline Study encompassed panel discussions with relevant stakeholders on Active Inclusion and Social Cohesion in South Eastern Europe.

National network of Montenegro is established!

National network of Montenegro is established!

SOS Telephone for Women and Children Victims of Violence – Podgorica organized an inaugural event for the National Network of Civil Society Organizations that provides social services in Montenegro on 30th of November in Podgorica.
Before the meeting of these CSO’s, SOS Podgorica organized a public call for CSO’s that wants to be the members of national network in Montenegro. Response was great and SOS Podgorica needed to select only most committed and valuable organizations. They made full application form and afterward rang list of those who passed as suitable for this project.

The meeting was attended by representatives of 25 civil society organizations providing social services in one of the five key areas: elderly care, care for persons with disabilities, gender-based and domestic violence, support to children and youth at risk and migrants, including all vulnerable groups affected by voluntary or forced migration. Organizations from Montenegro showed a high level of interest in becoming members of the Network and it was concluded at the inaugural meeting that the doors of the Network should remain open for newcomers and that the strategy and activities should be ambitious and go broader then planned by the “mother project”.