Podgorica, 4 February 2014
Children with disabilities and their parents living in the Capital City of Podgorica haven’t had much of a choice so far. In order to take care of their kids they either had to give up their jobs or to place their children in institutions. Things will change now. By 2015 Podgorica will obtain its first Day Care Centre for Children with Disabilities, which will facilitate the lives of those families and provide their children with favourable conditions for development and integration into the society.
This represents an important step in the implementation of key principles of a wider social welfare reform – deinstitutionalization and decentralization. With support from the EU, the establishing of the Day Care Centre has been defined in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Predrag Bošković, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Miomir Mugoša, Mayor of the Capital City of Podgorica, Rastislav Vrbensky, UNDP Resident Representative/UN Resident Coordinator and Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative to Montenegro.
A house that has been left as a legacy by Batrić Jovićević to the City of Podgorica will be reconstructed into a modern, 350 square meters centre that will accommodate approximately 30 children. With this, the Montenegrin network of day care centres for children with disabilities will expand further. Four years ago, Montenegro had only one such centre, while now there are already eight.
On the occasion of the MoU signing, Mr. Predrag Bošković, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare in the Government of Montenegro said: “Beside the construction of the day care centre in Podgorica, we will open one in Mojkovac next month, while we are also planning to construct three more this year – in Bar, Budva and Rožaje.”
“The Capital City of Podgorica allocates 2 million euros annually for social policy measures and is, together with partners from the international community and the Government of Montenegro working on advancing social services for the most vulnerable,” said Mr. Miomir Mugoša, Mayor of Podgorica.
Tangible results have been already achieved within the ongoing Social Welfare and Child Care System Reform. “A few years back, close to 400 children with and without disabilities from Montenegro lived in institutions across the country, as well as in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today, that number is reduced by 40%,” said Mr. Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Montenegro Representative.
One of the key goals of the social welfare reform is creation of social services system to support life in the community. “With substantial financial support from the EU, and daily cooperation with the EU Delegation to Montenegro, through the IPA Project “Social Welfare and Child Care System Reform- Enhancing Social Inclusion*** the country has received almost 800 000 euros investment in development of community social services since 2011,” said Mr. Rastislav Vrbensky, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator to Montenegro.
Ms. Snežana Mijušković, Secretary of the Secretariat for Social Welfare of the City of Podgorica presented the recently adopted Local Social Inclusion Plan 2014-2018, and said: “Implementation of the Plan starts exactly with today’s signing of the MoU. Parents of children with disabilities will now be able to work, while living full lives with their kids who will be increasingly participating in the community life.”
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The future Centre for Children with Disabilities is a result of the great commitment of partners:
- The City of Podgorica will provide a house, all necessary project and technical documentation, as well as construction supervision;
- The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare allocated funds for the reconstruction and adaptation of the Centre;
- UNICEF Montenegro will financially support the reconstruction and adaptation through the project “Social Welfare and Child Care System Reform – Enhancing Social Inclusion, IPA 2010”;
- UNDP Montenegro will secure full implementation of international construction standards, energy efficiency measures and ensure accessibility for people with disabilities, as well as efficient use of available funds by the overall management of this project.
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“Social Welfare and Child Care System Reform- Enhancing Social Inclusion” project is financed by the European Union in the total amount of 3 million Euros, and implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and Ministry of Education with technical and expert support from the UNDP and the UNICEF in Montenegro.