Press release: A critique of the proposed Law on Social and Child Protection prepared

The Government of Montenegro adopted the Bill of Law on Social and Child Protection on July 26. The large number of remarks submitted by the representatives of the CSOs haven’t been approved.

Remarks indicating the necessity of clear division of jurisdictions and responsibilities of local governments in the exercising rights procedure and provision of social services haven’t been adopted.

The Bill of Law still leaves the possibility for local government to provide better conditions for exercising rights in social and child protection but it is not obliged to do so. In this way the principle of decentralization in the Bill of Law on Social and Child Protection has not been confirmed as the basis of the social and child protection reform.

Commitment to the employment of the beneficiaries of financial aid capable for work is not convincing having in mind that the individual action plan is still non-binding but depends on the evaluation of professionals in the social work centers.

Instead of limiting the right on financial aid, IA considers that it is more effective if the individual plan of activation is obligatory and if more attention is dedicated to the development of workfare programs and closer cooperation between relevant institutions. The Bill of Law provides exclusion from the limitation of this right only to the parents of children with disability.

Child allowance is not defined as the universal right for every child regardless of the number of children in family. Compared with the law in force the advantage provided by the Bill of Law is that the right on child allowance is transferred to another child in family after the termination of use of this right by the older child. In that way right on child allowance can be exercised by three children in family. The Ministry on Labor and Social Welfare has selectively defined social services. Thus it is still not clarified what these services assume and which target groups they are intended to (for example : social therapy, shelter etc.).

Thereby, there is a still a risk from the small number of licensed applicants during the procurement of these services because of the unclear formulations about service itself.

This is very important having in mind that organizations of civil society, profit sector, individuals and legal entities also can be providers of social services in accordance with the law provisions regulating the public procurement procedure and public-private partnerships. IA considers that the great step forward has been made in the process of deinstitutionalization because of the provision which forbids the accommodation of child younger than three years in the children’s facility, Instead in 2017, as planned this provision will enter into force in January 2013. Although the growth of children in a healthy family environment suits to the best interest of a child, this provision should be taken with reserve because the foster care and adoption as the alternative forms of social and child protection still have to develop.

Dragana Radović
Public Policy Researcher

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