Tuesday, 15 December 2015

34th Sitting of the Committee on Labour, Social Issues, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction

At the sitting held on 15 December, the members of the Committee on Labour, Social Issues, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction were informed about foster care as a type of family care available to children in Serbia.

Committee Chairperson Dr Vesna Rakonjac said that the sitting was convened at the initiative of the Association of Foster Families of Belgrade so that the Committee members could be made aware of some of the problems foster parents struggle with. Serbia has 4,300 foster families and about 6,000 children in foster care. The foster parents receive 14,000.00 RSD in foster allowance, with additional 25,000.00 RSD for each child. Foster care in our legal system is defined by the Family Law and the Social Welfare Law, as well as a series of by-laws, and today’s sitting should answer the question whether these regulations are enough and what problems foster families have, concluded Chairperson Rakonjac. She announced that the Committee will hold a sitting outside of the National Assembly seat next year and talk with representatives of social welfare centres in view of the fact that the 2016 budget plans to reduce the number of children in institutions as much as possible and promote foster care, added Rakonjac.

Vojka Vujic of the Association of Foster Families of Belgrade listed some of the key problems foster parents struggle with, lack of information ranking first among them. Foster parents for the most part do not receive all the relevant information from the social welfare centres about the children in foster care and therefore do not know how to handle certain problems. The family housing centre helps the foster parents on the territory of Belgrade, but that is not the case everywhere in Serbia. Also, the foster parents do not participate in the decisions important for the children’s lives, and the end of foster care once the child finishes school and becomes independent is another big problem. Foster parents are in favour of instituting a half-way house to provide support for the children in the first year out of foster care.

In the discussion with the Committee members, representatives of foster family associations from several cities in Serbia listed specific problems in the relation foster family - social welfare centre - local self-government. They also made several complaints against the work of certain social welfare centres and inadequate responses by the competent ministry. They said that many foster parents are afraid that coming into conflict with the social welfare centre could lose them their licence, and they also spoke about the move from foster care to adoption, change in status of foster parent, child discrimination, problems that arise when trying to gather medical documentation for the children in care and their health care considering that these are to a great extent special needs children. They said that there are problems on both sides and this sitting is just the first step toward improving the social standing of foster parents.

The sitting was attended by Committee members Aleksandra Maletic, Aleksandar Peranovic, Mirjana Dragas, Milena Corilic and Shaip Kamberi and Committee deputy members Jezdimir Vucetic, Gordana Zorin and Ana Filipovic.

The sitting was chaired by Dr Vesna Rakonjac, Committee Chairperson.

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