The State of Kosovo receives an average of 2.35 for child care

The State of Kosovo receives an average of 2.35 for child care

KOMF published the first Monitoring Report, the international instrument “Report Card” – What is the overall result of Kosovo for child care? The report was published in the Assembly of Kosovo, with the presence of representatives of the Assembly of Kosovo, the Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, relevant ministries, other institutions, international agencies, non-governmental organizations and other partners.

The overall rating for the work of the state and institutions of Kosovo in 2022 is 2.35 (grade from 1 to 5).

The main goal of KOMF through the publication of this report, is to perform an annual independent monitoring of civil society in the field of children’s rights, based on facts and evidence. The report provides data regarding the status of children’s rights, level of implementation of the Law on Child Protection and outlines recommendations that are expected to support improvement of policies and services regarding child protection rights in Kosovo. The fields in which progress in terms of policies, legislation regarding the protection of children’s rights and its implementation were analyzed, are: Social welfare; Child protection; Child health; Early childhood development; Education and Juvenile justice.

The evaluation of the fields in this report is based on the grading system, like the grading of students in Kosovo schools, from grade one to grade five. The report was drafted by 24 co-authors, experts from KOMF member organizations.

Key highlights from Report Card:

Grade: 2.6

Kosovo focuses its support toward social welfare of children and families, mainly through social transfers. The current system of social protection in Kosovo does not sufficiently address the various needs of vulnerable children and families. Social transfers have very limited impact on reducing child and family poverty, resulting in high rates of child poverty in comparison to other countries in the region. Commencement of the revision process of social assistance legislation, is considered a positive step, as it is expected to eliminate the discriminatory criteria for children and to increase inclusion of children and families living in poverty. Adoption of the new Law on Social and Family Services, which officially opens the process of social services reform in the country, is considered an achievement. The main challenge in the field of social services remains the unstable financing, thus risking the closure or quality reduction of many social services for children and families in need. The draft Law on Local Government Financing, which has been finalized several years ago, is expected to create a Specific Grant for Social Services and to regulate the sustainable financing of social services, however, this Law has not been adopted yet. The process of costing of social services and establishing a financing formula, although started many years ago, has not yet been completed. Likewise, there was no mapping of services and population needs for services, that would also inform central and municipal policymakers in creating programs and planning social programs and services according to the needs.

Grade: 2.5

Despite of the fact that the Law on Child Protection entered into force in 2020, this law has not yet been fully implemented. By-laws deriving from this law have not yet been completed. Out of 17 administrative instructions deriving from this law, nine have been adopted while the other eight have not been adopted. The new services and programs foreseen by the Law on Child Protection have not yet been established. Prevention is not yet a key element of child protection services. Likewise, the free child helpline and the child protection houses have not yet been established. In Kosovo, we currently have a fragmented child protection system, as a result, services between education, social welfare and health sectors, are not integrated. Identification and reporting or self reporting of children in situations of violence and systemic treatment of violence cases, are still problematic issues. Kosovo still lacks specialized services that would deal with the protection and reintegration of children involved in child labour.

Grade: 2.25

There is lack of statistical data on breastfeeding rate, number of children with disabilities, number of children that consume tobacco, alcohol and number of children that use drugs. Infant mortality in Kosovo, although decreased over the years, is still the highest compared to countries in the region. An achievement has been the expansion of the Vaccination Calendar with three new vaccines for children, rotavirus vaccine, pneumococcal meningitis vaccine and HPV vaccine against cervical cancer. Regarding tertiary health system, operationalization of the new surgical-pediatric hospital has improved health care for children. Lack of medicines in the primary health care, regional hospitals and University Clinical Center of Kosovo, still remains problematic. The Law on Health Insurance, adopted in 2014, never entered into force. Government support for the provision of rehabilitation health services for children with disabilities, remains very limited. Our country still does not provide sustainable prevention services and programs that are more than necessary considering the growing trends of drug use by children and teenagers. Kosovo does not have special rehabilitation services for children victims of drug abuse. Requests from children for mental health services have increased, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to maintain a complete physical and mental well-being, Ministry of Health approved the Action Plan for Mental Health after the Covid-19 Pandemic. However, resources available for children’s mental health in public health facilities, are very limited. Consumption of energy drinks is another concern for children’s health in Kosovo and there is still no legal regulation regarding this issue.

Grade: 2.25

Kosovo still remains the country with the lowest inclusion of children in preschool education, compared to other countries in the region. The main reason for such low inclusion is the small absorption capacity of preschool institutions network and the general awareness on the traditional forms of education in the family. Preschool institutions are mostly focused in urban areas, and rural areas are almost excluded from access to early childhood development services. There is lack of sufficient alternative programs to support parents, services for early intervention in the family environment, day centers, learning centers, community centers, parents support groups. Children from vulnerable groups, although exempt from the payment fee, often are not included in preschool institutions. Early childhood care and education is even more important for children with disabilities, where early identification and intervention are largely lacking. Early childhood development services are not integrated with education, health and social care sectors. A positive step was the adoption of the Law on Early Childhood Education, which, among other issues, is expected to begin the integration of early childhood services.

Grade: 2.5

Education faces numerous challenges and problems, which reflect in the low quality of education in Kosovo. Kosovo was ranked among the lasts in the Program for International Students Assessment, PISA, where it ranked 76th out of 80 participating countries for reading, while it ranked in the 77th place out of 80 countries, for science. There are many factors that influence Kosovo to have such low quality in education, such as the quality of teachers’ performance, quality of textbooks, the very large number of pupils in classes, especially in cities, lack of infrastructure in schools, bad management, politicization of educational staff in schools, non-functioning of cooperation between parents, teachers and pupils, low accountability, etc. Kosovo’s institutions have made steps in the advancement of policies and legislation by attempting to implement the concept of inclusiveness as an integral part of all policies in education. However, there is still much work to be done in terms of implementing policies and developing mechanisms that ensure inclusiveness. Majority of municipalities have established municipal teams for the evaluation of children with disabilities, but in most municipalities these teams are not functional. Schools lack professional and support staff such as psychologists, pedagogues and assistants for children with disabilities. More specifically, not even one quarter of schools have psychologists employed. The decision of the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation regarding the employment of 100 assistants for children with disabilities, was an action to be complimented. According to official data, there is a low level of school dropout, however, there is a higher rate of school dropout in Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, and this is a worrying phenomenon for these communities. Likewise, in the majority of municipalities, teams for prevention and response to dropout and non-enrollment in compulsory education level, are not adequately functional.

Grade: 2

Services for the prevention and protection of minors in conflict with the law without criminal responsibility, are largely absent. This happens due to the very limited capacities within Centers for Social Work, and due to the distinct lack of services from nongovernmental sector. Although the new Juvenile Justice Code has doubled diversity measures, which play a decisive role in preventing the initiation of court proceedings against minors and promoting their rehabilitation and reintegration into society, the implementation of diversity measures faces challenges. Moreover, in the recent years, a significant decline in applying these measures has been observed in the juvenile justice system. Juveniles with educational measures are placed in a closed type institution, which is a violation of the Juvenile Justice Code provisions, and which is a serious violation of the fundamental children’s rights. This is due to the fact that the Open Education Center does not accept direct admissions based on the Court decision, but only transfers from the Correctional Center. A constant concern is caused by the fact that in the absence of a correctional center for female minors, they are placed in a center with adult female detainees/convicts. There is a large number of Correctional Center officers and a very small number of professional staff. The primary goal of the current organization is safety, preventing minors escape, by largely neglecting the work on rehabilitation, education and reintegration of minors, which is the purpose of these measures.