February 23, 2024 | Friday

Save the Children’s Social Protection Success Journey

By Festina Kabashi

In 2021, Save the Children Kosova/o started the implementation of the EU funded project Strengthening Provision of Social Services for the Most Vulnerable Groups in Kosovo, in Response to COVID-19. Through this project, Save the Children Kosova/o has worked directly with organisations and institutions in charge of providing social and family services, as well as on a central level advocacy campaign to adopt more accurate policies to improve the provision of social services in Kosovo. In the blog below, Festina Kabashi from Save the Children Kosova/o, gives us an insight on some of the project’s most important milestones. 

Formal and non-formal social service providers in Kosovo played a vital role in providing a comprehensive protection system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their responsibilities ranged from awareness raising to medical support and psychosocial integration. Recognized as influential community members, the role of these providers expanded due to the pandemic, addressing increased socio-economic vulnerability and combating domestic violence. 

Supported by the EU Office in Kosovo, in 2021 Save the Children Kosova/o started the implementation of the Strengthening Provision of Social Services for the Most Vulnerable Groups in Kosovo, in Response to COVID-19. Through this project, Save the Children Kosova/o has supported 47 licensed organisations in providing social and family services with around 2.7 million Euros.  Along the way, through this action, quality social services were provided to more than 10,000 children and adults across Kosovo. 

A parent whose daughter received services adapted to her needs by a licensed NGO shared a heartening testament: “My daughter was not able to speak until she was six..  A short time after receiving trainings here,, she started to call me mother, and there are no words to describe that moment.  Thanks to the  services received here, she is now able to say mother, brother, sister, uncle, all these words… “

Over the course of three years, Save the Children Kosova/o has worked towards advancing cooperation and providing thematic support in diverse fields to formal and non-formal social service providers. This collaborative effort has facilitated better partnerships between Centers for Social Work and licensed NGOs, fostering a joint provision of social services. This cooperation was regulated with the establishing of a Protocol for Cooperation. SCiK’s impactful work has reached over 500 formal and informal service providers, creating a network of support that spans the local community. 

A key pillar of this action has been the emphasis on awareness-raising and advocacy. Within this action, together with social service providers, SCiK has worked to raise the  awareness on the accessibility of social services in respective communities on one hand, and on the importance of sustainable provision of social services with respective duty-bearers on the other. Consequently, one online platform has been launched, info-sherbimesociale.org ,which centralises information on social and family services provided throughout Kosovo. 

In 2023 three municipalities developed their Municipal Action Plans for the Provision of Social Services, Working Manuals adhering to Minimum Standards for Social Services, and comprehensive Guidelines and Protocols for the Provision of Social Services. Parallel to this, SCiK contributed through this action to drafting, reviewing, and adopting relevant legislations, policies, to strengthen the social service systems and address the shortcomings of the financing of social services. Approval of the Law on Social and Family Services by the Parliament of Kosovo in December 2023 was a key advocacy milestone recognizing the efforts of all social service providers for a sustainable financial scheme for the provision of social services to persons in need. This law ensures sustainability in the provision of social services, quality service provision, proper monitoring, and contracting social services. 

To deepen the understanding of a robust social service system and share best practices, SCiK with the support of Save the Children Sweden organised a Study Visit in Sweden. During this Study Visit, Kosovo officials and service providers met with various institutions, public service providers and licensed NGOs in Stockholm gaining insights into engaging with local governments for high-quality service delivery.

Furthermore, to ensure the sustainability of service provision and effective monitoring, the action facilitated a joint research initiative between the Ministry of Finance, Labor, and Transfers, and the Kosovo Agency of Statistics. This research aimed to identify gaps in data collection and introduce best practices, recommending the digitalization of the Case Management system and a unified database informed by the insights of NGOs and CSWs. This holistic approach ensures a resilient and adaptive social service system for the benefit of those in need.

From the critical response to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to the establishment of sustainable legal frameworks and collaborative partnerships, this social protection journey signifies a triumph of compassion and dedication. The stories of transformed lives echo the profound impact of the action “Strengthening Provision of Social Services for the Most Vulnerable Groups in Kosovo, in Response to COVID-19.” As we move forward, the approval of the Law on Social and Family Services stands as a symbol of progress, ensuring a sustainable and high-quality social service system. The ongoing commitment of Save the Children Kosova/o  in ensuring sustainable and long-lasting social services to the persons in need promises a future where the most vulnerable among us receive the care and support they deserve, paving the way for a brighter and more inclusive Kosovo.