Representatives of 12 communities of Donetsk and Luhansk regions discussed with the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine the development of social services for families and children at the local level. The platform for discussion and exchange of experiences was a round table “Implementation of social services for children and families in communities”, organized by the Ukrainian Child Rights Network within the project “Jointly. Social services for families in the community. ”
The “JOINTLY” project is implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and a Consortium of partner organizations with the financial support of the German government and the German Development Bank (KfW). During the year, the experts of the project “JOINTLY” worked in 12 participating communities to improve the system of social services: identified the needs for social services of residents of a particular community, developed a plan for changes in the service system, trained local professionals in modern practices and approaches to service delivery. The project also envisages the opening of multifunctional centers for the provision of social services in communities. In the project, each community has gone through its own unique path of social development, and this experience can be useful for further work on the implementation of quality social services.
“The Ministry thanks UNICEF, the Consortium of Project Partners, the German Government and the German Development Bank for the opportunity to discuss changes in the implementation of social services in communities. During the decentralization of powers to provide social services, the distribution of powers between central and local authorities changes. Powers in the field of social services should be transferred to communities that are as close as possible to the recipients of these services. At the same time, in order to implement social services, communities must create an appropriate structural unit that will provide these services. Therefore, it is necessary to direct resources to communities, which will enable them to fully provide social services, “said Ruslan Kolbasa, Director General of the Directorate for the Development of Social Services and Protection of Children’s Rights.
Representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine also joined the discussion.
“The development of education and social services are inseparable. Inclusive education, for example, is at their intersection. An important joint step for us with the Ministry of Social Policy should be the introduction of the position of child assistant at the community level, ”said Tetyana Symonenko, Head of the Main Department of Preschool, Out-of-School and Inclusive Education.
Speakers emphasized the importance of a child-centered approach and teaming up with social services.
“Quality social services are possible if all parties involved cooperate in the interests of the child. Our JOINT project is unique in its individual approaches to each community and, at the same time, the creation of a common platform for open discussions and exchange of experiences. Challenge analysis, exchange of experiences and best practices are the right way to improve social services, ”said Naira Avetisyan, Head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Child Protection Program.
Participants discussed the main challenges in implementing an integrated approach to social services, analyzed effective practices, and community representatives spoke about their progress in developing the potential of communities needed to implement integrated social services for children and families.
“For us, the Ukrainian Child Rights Network, it is very important that the experience gained by the communities within the project is transferred and consolidated in other communities of Ukraine. After all, the project helps to analyze the processes and factors that affect changes in the community in the field of social services. The main factor is the motivation of communities and it is also important to maintain the sustainability of results, ”said Daria Kasyanova, Chairman of the Board of the Ukrainian Network for the Rights of the Child.
Following the round table, further ways of cooperation between project partners, local community authorities and stakeholders to overcome challenges in the field of social services in both project communities and other communities in Ukraine were identified, as well as the need to ensure sustainability of services for families with children after the project.