Separation of a child from the family and his/her placement in residential or foster care is a traumatic and painful experience, since it often leads to weakening or severing the bonds with the people extremely close and significant to children. Therefore, work with families at risk of breakdown is an area which requires increased attention.
UNICEF Montenegro Office has partnered with UNICEF Serbia Office in order to introduce in Montenegro the family and parenting support service called Family Outreach Worker, which was initially launched in Serbia in 2013. The family outreach worker service is a form of home visiting that aims to:
- To prevent the removal of the child from his-her biological family and improve the functioning of the biological family, to react in a timely manner in risky situations in the family in terms of preventing violence, neglect, and abuse (some kinship and foster families were also supported to prevent kinship or foster care breakdown)
- To assist in the process of re-integration of a child into his-her biological family, for instance, a child that has been temporarily placed in an institution or other forms of residential or foster care;
- To support the system to provide adequate protection and support to the child and the family, which will be in the child’s best interest.
The cooperation involved public institutions from both countries and more recently an NGO from Montenegro who delivers the service and enabled the exchange of know-how and experts as well as training of Montenegro’s professionals by professionals from Serbia. The service has been provided (intermittently) since 2014 in a quarter of Montenegrin municipalities. Initially, it was funded by UNICEF, then through the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. The Ministry has committed to the Strategy on the Prevention and Projection of Children from Violence that it will integrate the services into the system 2021.
The service has covered over 70 families with almost 180 children in the period 2016-2017, has thus far yielded very positive results. In line with Montenegro's commitment to deinstitutionalization, thus far, no child who was covered by the service has been separated from the biological or foster family.
Budget: The cost is about 90 euro per family per month.
Partners: UNICEF COs in Serbia and Montenegro, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Montenegro, institutions in Serbia (Institute for Social Affairs, Home "Zvecanska"), NGO Family Centre Kotor
Organization UNICEF Montenegro
Contact person: Ms. Ida Ferdinandi
Address: Stanka Dragojevica bb, Podgorica
Phone Number: +38269303191