Open Letter to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, Labor and Transfers and the Minister of Justice – Social Services at Risk of Closure in January 2024!

Open Letter to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, Labor and Transfers and the Minister of Justice – Social Services at Risk of Closure in January 2024!

Coalition of NGOs for Child Protection in Kosovo – KOMF, representing 35 non-governmental organizations has addressed an open letter to to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, Labor and Transfers and the Minister of Justice, requesting the immediate implementation of measures to prevent the closure of social services for vulnerable children.

Specifically, KOMF has requested funding for the provision of essential social services vital for vulnerable children, services which are at risk of closure by January 1, 2024 due to the lack of financial support from the Government.

Residential services and daily care services for children without parental care, children victims of abuse and mistreatment, children victims of family violence, and victims of trafficking (low and medium risk levels), children with disabilities, etc., are partially funded by the Ministry of Justice through annual public calls. Since 2016, there have been time gaps between calls/contracts for the support of these services, leaving them financially unsupported at the beginning of each year. Non-public institutions licensed to provide social services have been financially supported by the Ministry of Justice for service provision. Financial support from the Ministry of Justice has been allocated for the period from April 2023 to January 2024, and as a result, the services are funded only until January 2024. In the absence of funds for further support, these services are at risk of closure.

The interruption of providing these services, even temporarily, will leave currently accommodated children without shelter and will also close the door for new cases that may be in need of residential services, thereby violating the fundamental right of children to protection.

Providers offering daily services for vulnerable children through daily centers will face a similar situation. In the absence of social services, vulnerable children, especially those with disabilities, will remain confined at home and will experience regression in their physical, psychological, and emotional development.

This situation will also adversely affect the economic and emotional well-being of families with vulnerable children, who will be forced to seek paid services based on their financial capabilities. In addition to the closure of services, it will result in the shutdown of specialized centers for daily services equipped with tools, infrastructure, professional and licensed staff. Moreover, this temporal void poses a risk of losing the professional staff that has been invested in over the years.

KOMF calls for:

• Immediate action to prevent the closure of social services.

• Allocation of an emergency fund for the period January to April 2024, until the regular announcement from the Ministry of Justice for financing social services (the emergency fund is a practice that was followed last year).

To address this recurring issue over the years, KOMF calls for the implementation of actions to establish a sustainable scheme for contracting social and family services. Contracting should be done on behalf of service procurement, providing social services for three-year periods to ensure sustainable financing and eliminate temporal gaps.

KOMF emphasizes that if immediate measures are not taken to prevent the closure of services for vulnerable children, the rights and well-being of children in Kosovo will be severely violated. Therefore,

KOMF and its member organizations appeal for immediate action regarding the situation outlined above.

Action for Mothers and Children – AMC, Association for Social Training, Research and Advocacy – ASTRA

Balkan Sunflowers Kosova, Childproof/CIPOF, CONCORDIA Social Projects, Down Syndrome Kosova, Education Comes First , Handikos Ferizaj, Handikos Gjakova, NGO Hareja, Network of Peace Movement – NOPM, Nevo Koncepti, OPFAKKOS, NGO “Autizmi”, NGO Akti, Organization for Children without Parental Care – OFAP, PL4Y International, Civil Rights Program – CRP/K, Public Organization for Local Initiatives and Supports – POLIS, Daily Care Center PEMA, The Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims – KRCT, Labyrinth Center, Kosova Education Center – KEC, Center for the Protection of Victims and the Prevention of Trafficking in Human Beings, Center for Advanced Studies – FIT, Social Educational Center SOS Kopshti, Peer Educators Network – PEN, Save the Children Kosovo, SOS Children’s Villages Kosovo, Association of Paraplegics and Children’s Paralysis of Kosovo – HANDIKOS, Patients’ Rights Association in Kosovo – PRAK Kosova, Hope and Home for Children Kosovo – SDSF, Terre des hommes Kosovo, The Ideas Partnership and Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians – VoRAE.