KOMF through ChildPact has provided inputs for the preparation of the EU Enlargement Package 2019.
The contribution highlights the similar difficulties in the region regarding child protection and children’s rights, with country specific recommendations.
Kosovo has continued the efforts of improving the situation of child protection and children rights in the past year. Several shortcomings can still be identified and efforts to support needed changes are still required in several fields. The Draft Law on Child Protection has not been approved yet. Adequate budgeting needs to be put in place at all levels to enable the actors holding responsibilities in the frame of the law to properly fulfil their duties after the law is approved by the Assembly.
Despite the decentralization of social services in January 2009, human and financial resources are limited. Lack of Specific Grant for Social Services disables minimum provision of quality services for the protection of children. The lack of funding prevents the institutions in fulfilling their mandate and obligations under the legislation.
Existing legal provisions under the Law on Social Assistance Scheme are limiting the access to social assistance benefits to the families with children under the age of 5. Criterion (i) in Category II, Article 4, (under this law) where it is determined that the family should have at least one child under the age of five, is discriminatory and absolutely unacceptable. This criterion excludes families, exactly when the child has to start education and consequently the family will have even bigger expenses.
Children with disabilities face several limitations of their rights, especially access to adequate intervention social services, health and education. The existence and functioning of day care rehabilitation services for children with disabilities should be maintained and supported financially by the state. We recommend that good practices and successful intervention models implemented by NGOs are considered and scaled up.
Child labour continues to be a concern; currently there aren’t any specific services to address children; including outreach services, as well as rehabilitation and reintegration services (including social, educational and psychological support to children and their families).
Data collection and management remains a challenge, especially with regard to child labour, children with disabilities, children victims of drug abuse and other issues related to children.
Kosovo currently does not provide universal health insurance and therefore out-of-pocket spending for health services remains high. It is estimated that almost a third of the population does not have easy access to health care services or have only limited access due to lack of funds and that 18 % of the population, due to economic reasons, does not seek medical services in case of illness.
Some of our key recommendations, based on the situation described above, include:
- Approval of Draft Law on Child Protection and provision of adequate budgeting in the frame of the law to properly fulfil duties after the law is approved by the Assembly;
- Ensure sustainable and adequate funding for social services in Kosovo through amendment of the Law No. 03/L-049 on the Local Government Finance and the creation of a Specific Grant for Social Services; this grant should have clear criteria to ensure fair and adequate financing formula for social services;
- Revising or reforming social policies for poverty reduction, namely reforming the social assistance scheme through amendment of Law on Social Assistance; abolish the requirement (i) for Category II, Article 4, which states that the family should have at least one child under the age of 5, and increase the monthly amount of social assistance to cope the basic living conditions for a family;
- Amending the Law on Material Support to Families of Children with Disabilities to include comprehensive protection for all types of disability; sponsoring community based services for children with disabilities for the provision of daily rehabilitation and reintegration services; guarantee the quality health services for children with disabilities through regular provision of essential medicines, supplies and equipment needed; removing barriers of public access, transport, communication, information so that children with disabilities have access to proper education and social life;
- Establishment and development of basic services for children involved in hazardous work is an immediate measure that the government and the municipalities have to undertake; establishing mobile teams for outreach services in order to identify and provide services for children;
- Research and data collection should be gathered to determine the number of children with disabilities, children involved in child labour, and children victims of drug abuse;
- Kosovo has to implement the Law on Health Insurance, which currently is not being implemented.
More information and specific country recommendations are available in the full document here.