A public hearing with the title “Child protection in Serbia. From laws to their enforcement” took place today at the National Assembly in Belgrade. The Committee on Labour, Social Issues, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction hosted the meeting, in response to a proposal of Association for Development of Children and Youth – Open Club and the Network of Organizations for the Children of Serbia (MODS).
Serbia has the lowest result among 5 countries included in the CPI in 3 indicators: percentage of children with special needs in public residential facilities (from the total number of children in the public residential facilities), gross local adoption rate (the average for 100.000 people from 0-17 years), and percentage of children with special needs adopted locally from the total number of the children adopted locally. It is necessary to improve overall capacity of the child protection system (including human resources, financial means, infrastructure and equipment) for the prevention of kidnapping, sale and trafficking of children (0,125), separation of the child from his family (0,357), protection of children from violence (0,375) and the protection of children who live and work on the street (0,375).
The public debate dealt with the reform processes and the results achieved in the area of child protection, focusing in particular on the improvement of the legal framework in the interest of children and most vulnerable groups. The Child Protection Index was presented as an important contribution to the development of policies based on evidence and data. The Child Protection Index – a joint project created by ChildPact and World Vision and implemented in Serbia in cooperation with the Network of Organizations for the Children of Serbia – MODS – measures child protection policies, and enables to compare results at regional level.
With the final score of 0,6154 in the Child Protection Index (CPI), Serbia currently occupies third place in the region, out of 5 pilot countries (Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Georgia, Moldavia). According to CPI results, what is missing at the moment is a better coordination at the national level to provide a systematic approach to child protection, a better coordination of local and national policies, the establishment of integrative services that take into consideration the family as a whole and combine monetary assistance with adequate support and services in the community. There is also a need for more preventive activities.
The public debate emphasized the need to thoroughly apply a systematic approach to child protection, with the intent that the activities and services in the community aredirected towards the family at risk, in order to make the family stronger and thus prevent separation, that the challenges that children face are addressed in a more appropriate way – the challenges faced by the children who live and work on the street, children with special needs, children who are victims of abuse, trafficking, who are under influence of drugs and who are vulnerable to other forms of exploitation and abuse.
The speakers have emphasized that more attention should be focused on the parents, in order to take care of the welfare of children. There is a need for developing intensive family support services, and the need to find a way to make these services part of the child protection system. Unfortunately, parents are currently faced with numerous administrative obstacles, which makes it more difficult for them to exercise their rights. It is necessary to focus on the simplification of the procedures in the interest of end-users. The best interest of the child must be a key guideline for future legislative activities and should lead to simplified procedures for both children and parents.