Minimum Package of Social Services for children and their families currently being implemented by UNICEF.
BUCHAREST, 1 July 2016 – Today, on 1 July, Mr. Dragoș Pîslaru, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Protection and the Elderly, and Ms. Gabriela Coman, President of the National Authority for the Protection of Child Rights and Adoption, together with UNICEF Romania representatives visited Lipova and Colonești communities of Bacău county to learn about the implementation of The Minimum Package of Services for children and their families, a UNICEF model intervention, and whether such services could be scaled up nationally.
Concretely, this package consists of community-based services in health, social protection and education. It is universal, as every family can access it, but it focuses on the most vulnerable children and their families.
The Minimum Package of Services also includes a strong prevention component. It requires the presence in each community of at least a social worker, a community nurse and a school counsellor. Together they help vulnerable children and their families to assess their needs and to provide tailored support. For best results, these three professionals closely collaborate and work with local stakeholders such as the mayoralty, NGOs and other community partners.
“Integrated community-based services are a cross-ministry priority action for the current Government, part of the Integrated Package of Measures Against Poverty and of the National Strategy for Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction. This action is designed with and for community people, aiming to prevent and mitigate the set of vulnerabilities encountered at individual, family and community level. We wish to ensure that the implementation process is founded on an accurate understanding of the concrete real life problems people face locally – which is why we seek to learn from similar models already developed. The UNICEF intervention model and the AURORA software application are an excellent starting point. We are happy to be here today among the people of Lipova and Colonești, in Bacău county, and to have the opportunity to understand how this model works for them and how it could be scaled up nationwide, for all marginalized communities. We are on the field visit today together with representatives of five ministries, as well as Mr. Sorin Brașoveanu, President of Bacău County Council”, said Minister Dragoș Pîslaru.
The representatives of the central and county authorities present at the event in Bacău discussed with local authorities, professionals, as well as several families about how specifically the Minimum Package of Services improved the lives of vulnerable children – from easier access to health care services and first-time school registration, to obtaining birth or disability certificates. Discussions also underlined the challenges related to the implementation of these services locally, particularly in the disadvantaged rural areas.
“UNICEF values the Government commitment to ensure that all vulnerable groups receive an integrated package of social services which brings together the social protection, health and education sectors. We hope that our experience in developing and testing such services for children and their families serves as a source of good practices, methods and tools that can be adopted at national level. UNICEF is prepared to support the Government efforts towards scaling up integrated services nationwide”, said Sandie Blanchet, UNICEF Representative in Romania.
A 5.3 million Euro budget is allocated for the implementation of the Minimum Package of Services which is part of the intervention model “Social inclusion through the provision of integrated services at community level” – Community-based Services for Children, an initiative funded by Norway Grants (3.3 million Euro) and UNICEF own funds (2 million Euros).
Through the model tested in the 45 communities in Bacău, UNICEF Romania helps 53,000 children, including by providing social and health care services to 19,000 children and ensuring access to quality inclusive education for 21,000 children.
At the same time, the public policies, norms and standards to be developed based on the lessons learnt in the implementation of this model will support 4 million children in Romania and their families.
Joining the two visiting officials in Bacău were the president of Bacău County Council, Mr. Sorin Brașoveanu, as well as representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of European Funds.