Foster care in Albania

Referring to the latest annual report of State Social Services, during 2020 15 children from the public residential institutions of children in Albania have been reunited with their biological families, while 27 children have been adopted. The national program for the establishment of the new foster care service is institutionalized since 2008 in the Strategy of social protection and the action plan for its implementation.

By Merita Xhumari and Megi Xhumari, University of Tirana

There are approximately 700,000 children in Albania, representing a dependency ratio of 25.0 children per 100 working age population. Close to 0.12 per cent (1.2 per 1,000) of the child population lives in residential institutional care, as reported by the State Inspectorate for Social Services in June 2016. Referring to the latest annual report of State Social Services, during 2020 15 children from the public residential institutions of children in Albania have been reunited with their biological families, while 27 children have been adopted. The national program for the establishment of the new foster care service is institutionalized since 2008 in the Strategy of social protection and the action plan for its implementation. Law 18/2017, “On the children’s rights and protection” defines the institutional mechanisms for the protection of children’s rights at central and local level. These developments reflect the commitments of the Albanian government towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030, Objective 1.4 Article 20: “Children deprived of their family environment are entitled to special protection and assistance from the State which provides… an alternative care” in the National Agenda for Children Rights 2017-2020. Albania’s EU integration process also requires the development of policies and services according to Principle 11 “Care and support for children” of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

In order to support alternative care for children, SOS Children’s Villages Albania in partnership with Tirana Legal Aid Society (TLAS) have been implementing the project “The Development of CSOs for foster care in Albania”, financed by European Union. The objective of the project was to: “Support good practices and models of protection of children from abuse and violence, alternative care, family strengthening, inclusive education and early childhood development with a special focus on vulnerable & minority groups”. The project started in April 2018 and ended in March 2021, implemented in 3 main regions of Albania, Tirana, Durrësi and Korça.

Despite the fact that in the last years, de-institutionalization and the development of family-based services and foster care have become a priority for governmental agendas, the accessibility to a range of care options, including foster care, has not really been prioritized and residential cares prevails and continues to account for the highest number of children in alternative care. The main challenges faced that were identified in the course of the project implementation on foster care have been the lack of information and public awareness about this new family-based service. In Albania, the placement of children in kinship families has traditionally been applied without any court process. On the one hand, it has been the mentality of biological parents to leave their children in residential care rather than in foster care families, as they fear they might lose their child forever. On the other hand, there is the mentality of Albanian families, who want to have a child permanently as part of the family, to better decide for adoption rather than have a foster family that provides a temporary care for children without parental care. Furthermore, there are also macro level challenges related to the capacities of local government, courts and other local actors that need to be developed to be able to manage the new foster care service.

The key recommendations drawn from the project implementation include the actions to increase public awareness on foster care, the creation of a juvenile court, free legal service for foster families; the establishment of better synergies across institutions; and for foster family to be recognized as a profession and to have an adequate payment.

In support of these recommendations, one of the main outputs of the project was the development of a Practical Training Manual for Foster Care in Albania by Bethany Social Services, the first local NGO piloting foster care service in Albania, to guide local professionals and key stakeholders in foster care service implementation. The Manual published in the Albanian language can assist professionals from Kosovo, North Macedonia, as well as Montenegro where a considerable Albanian population is living.

The central axis for addressing the main topics of the Manual is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by the Albanian government, which stipulates that “… the child, for the full and harmonious development of his / her personality, must grow up in a family environment, in a happy atmosphere, with love and understanding”, as well as the UN Guidelines for Alternative Care for Children.

Content-wise, the Training Manual aims to provide knowledge, develop skills and competencies related to:

  • The value and importance of the family for children;
  • Laws, regulations and policies governing the foster care service;
  • The process of implementing the foster care service;
  • Categories of competencies for the foster care service;
  • Commitment to the role as a member of a professional Cross-cutting Technical Group.

31/05/21: Call for partnerships & scholarships – APPEAR

APPEAR contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The overall objective is to strengthen the scientific foundation and institutional capacities in higher education, research andmanagement in the partner countries through academic partnerships with Austrian higher education institutions and master’s and PhD scholarships.

31/05/21: Call for partnerships & scholarships in higher education – Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) APPEAR

 

APPEAR contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The overall objective is to strengthen the scientific foundation and institutional capacities in higher education, research andmanagement in the partner countries through academic partnerships with Austrian higher education institutions and master’s and PhD scholarships. Furthermore, APPEAR aims at increasing the commitment to international cooperation and development at Austrian higher education institutions.

APPEAR is a programme of the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) with the aim to realise its strategy for support of higher education and research for development on an academic institutional level.  Read more

Guidelines for Applicants

Online article: Every Child Matters? Ambivalences and Convergences in Migration Management and Child Protection in Albania

Online article: Every Child Matters? Ambivalences and Convergences in Migration Management and Child Protection in Albania by Vathi et al.

Research on the intersection between migration management and child protection is limited and, yet, contradictions between these two domains and ambivalence in the area of child migrants’ rights across the developed world have already been highlighted. Based on fieldwork with policymakers and service providers in Albania, a middle-to-high income country with a significant history of emigration, this paper aims to shed light on the interaction of these institutional and policy domains and the impact they have on professional practice. The State’s impact on migrant children’s rights at the domestic level is affected by the resourcefulness of its system of social and child protection. Read more

Closed (30/12/20) CfP: Welfare state and social policies in the CEE region

The peer-reviewed, open access scientific journal Problemy Polityki Społecznej/Social Policy Issues invites original paper submissions for a special issue to bring together papers exploring a broad array of research questions related to welfare state and social policies in the CEE region.

Journal of Social Policy Issues: Cfp on Special Issue “Welfare state and social policies in the CEE region: past developments, present challenges and prospects for the future”

Deadline: 30 December 2020

University of Warsaw invites to submit original papers to the special issue of Problemy Polityki Społecznej. Social Policy Issues – a peer-reviewed, OPEN ACCESS journal, published by University of Warsaw.

The planned Special Issue “Welfare state and social policies in the CEE region: past developments, present challenges and prospects for the future” aims to bring together papers exploring a broad array of research questions related to welfare state and social policies in the CEE region, that may touch upon past developments, present challenges as well as future prospects. By CEE region we mean a large group of countries including Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine as well as sub-country regions, e.g. east of Germany.

The best paper submitted to this issue will receive an award of 400 euro. Read more

Closed (7/12/20): Online project presentation: Intra Yugoslav Albanian migration

07/12; 17-18: To the Northwest! Intra Yugoslav Albanian migration (1953-1989)

In this talk, CSEES researchers Rory Archer and Mladen Zobec present the
research project “To the Northwest! Intra Yugoslav Albanian migration
(1953-1989)” funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) which began earlier this year. The research examines the phenomenon of Yugoslav Albanian migration from the Yugoslav south (Kosovo, Macedonia) to the Northern republics of Slovenia and Croatia. Read more

2020 Updated Reviews: on the European Pillar of Social Rights in the Western Balkans

2020 Updated Reviews: on the European Pillar of Social Rights in the Western Balkans

The European Centre updated the existing reviews on the European Pillar of Social Rights in the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, and Serbia. The European Centre had already been engaged as international expert organization in the original reviews prepared in 2018. On behalf of the Regional Cooperation Council, the European Centre team was working with country experts and provided quality assurance to ensure that the reports were of high quality, consistent, clear, accurate, sourced, appropriate and timely. Read or download the six reports for 2020 here.

Journal Article: How does Informal Transnational Social Protection Bond Families Across Boarders?

Journal Article: How does Informal Transnational Social Protection Bond Families Across Boarders? The Case of Albanian Migrants and their Transnational Families by Dhembo

In this journal article Dhembo looks at the case of Albanian migrants and their transnational families to reconfirm old patterns and sketch new trends in informal transnational protection practices which construct main fundamental ties holding transnational families together and are key in building and strengthening intergenerational solidarity among Albanian migrants and their left behind family and kin. Read more

Report: Albania 2020

Report: Albania 2020 Report by the European Commission

The European Commission has just published 2020 Enlargement Package. The package contains the Reports in which the Commission services present their detailed assessment of the state of play in each candidate country and potential candidate, what has been achieved over the last year, and set out guidelines on reform priorities. Read here

Survey: South-East European local Governments Inpost Covid19 Socio-Economic Recovery

Survey: South-East European local Governments Inpost Covid19 Socio-Economic Recovery by NALAS

Within the BACID programme NALAS and KDZ implemented a study on Covid19. 150 mayors and local government representatives havev been interviewed for this study and reveal the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cities and municipalities in South-East Europe. Also good practices and recommendations for the socio-economic recovery on local level are provided. Read more