Family strengthening, the most efficient social policy of a country

Family strengthening, the most efficient social policy of a country

IBNA Analysis/A study carried out in the period from May 2013-February 2014 has been undertaken in the framework of the Reform of Social Services by the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth, Swiss Cooperation Office to Albania, Arsis and GFK, supported by UNICEF and Save the Children. The study points out that the Albanian society cannot afford the loss of a generation without a childhood. The study offers an accurate picture of the situation of the children on the streets of Albania. It offers some of the causes; the effect over children on the street; the current help offered to children on the street and new challenges that emerge ahead. The study reflects the profile of children including their physical and mental health, their exposure against the risk of trafficking or exploitation; the risk of clashing with the law; their education, work and their health. The study describes the access that they have in the use of services and the perceptions and hopes of children. This study offers possible strategies of support

By Erion Veliaj

Minister of Social Welfare and Youth of Albania

Begging and the state of children on the streets are an indicator of the serious impact of the very long transition and the economic and social displacements have had on one of the most fundamental institutions of our society, the family.

Parents are entitled to raise and care for their children and each one of us expects for parents to act in the best interest of their child.

When parents do not protect their children from damages, abuse and are not able to fulfill their basic needs-the state has the responsibility to intervene in order to protect the health and welfare of these children.

The findings of the latest study offer us the opportunity to confront for the first time with objective data, a complex phenomenon, based on exploitation, abuse, children forced into begging from their parents from birth until they grow up.

Ministry of Social Welfare sees the strengthening of the family as the most efficient social policy in the country. This is why we have undertaken a full review of our social policies and programs, in an effort to secure their maximum impact in meeting this objective. For this reason, we’re undertaking a full modernization of the most important Program in the country for the treatment of poverty, extreme one in particular, the Program of Solidarity Albania, also know up until today as Social Allowance.

Solidarity Albania Program manages an important 40 million USD fund. Unfortunately, we have found it in a miserable state of poor management, abuse and lack of efficiency. We’ve seen a full transformation of this program. Initially in the three main districts of the country and then throughout the entire country. We expect the number of poor families and extremely poor families that benefit from the Solidarity Albania Program to double.

This program automatically benefits many Roma and Egyptian families, which have been excluded due to bureaucratic reasons. Starting from the month of June, social welfare will only be managed by mothers. This is a measure backed by the best practices and it will have a direct impact on the improvement of the situation with children. We have also approved the increase of social allowance for families that secure a regular school attendance and vaccination of their children.

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Today, 20 years after the fall of communism, social services in the country are still in the form of residential care centers. Multi disciplinary social services at a community level are almost nonexistent. In those places where they exist, they are offered by civil society or religious organizations. In other words, which structure is responsible to treat clear cases of the abuse with children?

This is why we’re undertaking a wide reform of the Social Services. A reform which consists on building an integrated chain system of social services for children and families, focusing on strengthening the family and community. This will lead to the creation of children protection services, emergency centers, parenting services, programs for the strengthening of the family, temporary custody and programs of social integration.