Press release: New law on social and child care – a road to real changes?

Driven by the ongoing reform of social and child protection, IA has submitted to the Ministry on Labor and Social Welfare the comments on the Draft of Law on Social and Child protection aimed at improving the quality of protection of beneficiaries of social rights. Certain provisions need to be changed and better defined in order to establish clear legislative framework protecting the interests of every (potential) beneficiary of rights in the system of social and child protection.

Commitment to the reduction of the so called “poverty trap” and to the development of workfare programs for beneficiaries capable of integrating into the labor market represents a step ahead of the current legislation. This poverty reduction is achievable through the development of workfare programs and suitable reform of employment policy. However, the Draft Law on Social and Child Protection does not oblige centers for social work to make an individual plan of activation for every (completely or partially capable for work) beneficiary of financial aid, but leaves this to the centers’s discretione. IA considers that that is not a proper way for permanent solution of the social situation of beneficiaries. Individual plan of activation must be binding for all beneficiaries capable for work in order to reduce potential abuses and rationalize the budget expenditure by directing the aid only to those who have to be provided with the state support due to the objective reasons. . The Law on Social and Child protection should sanction breaching the individual plan of activation, by, for example, temporarily terminating the financial aid.

The chapter which regulates provision of social services represents a certain progress, if compared with the current law. This chapter leaves significant space to civil society organizations and private sector to provide social services. Establishment of the license system and program accreditation will ensure standards of social services quality. However, IA considers that shelter as one of the accommodation services should be clearly defined by indicating the purpose and potential target groups of this service, or indicating the special bylaw regulating the terms of use of this service.

Regarding the deinstitutionalization, decentralization and development of local social services, as the basis of the social reform process, it is necessary to establish the normative framework and clearly define the role of local government in social and child protection.

Strengthening the capacity of social work centers by introducing the new methods of work, professional trainings, supervision, projects’ management compatible to the people’s needs and improving the principle of good governance are the priorities to be defined in the Law on Social and Child Protection. According to the 2009 Report of the State Audit Institution on the social work centers, the managing board of those centers had held only one meeting per year on the average. Given the responsibility of these bodies, IA considers this alarming.

Dragana Radović

Policy Analyst

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