The European Commission and the World Bank prompt discussions on the process deinstitutionalization in Croatia
ZAGREB, June 11, 2018 – In Croatia the process of replacement of residential institutions as dominant forms of care of children and persons with disabilities started over a decade ago. Croatia also ratified several international conventions and human rights treaties on the rights of children and persons with disabilities in support of the process of deinstitutionalization. The European Commission (EC) and the World Bank, in cooperation with the Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy, organized a roundtable with relevant stakeholders in Zagreb today, to take the pulse of the process and discuss future steps.
As a member of the European Union (EU), Croatia took on additional responsibilities in this process through the adoption of the National Plan on Deinstitutionalization and Transformation of Social Welfare Institutions and Other Legal Entities Performing Social Welfare Activities for 2011-18 and the Operational Plan for Transformation and Deinstitutionalization of Social Welfare Homes and Other Legal Entities Performing Social Welfare Work in the Republic of Croatia 2014-2016. These documents set out the framework and rationale for deinstitutionalization, the specific objectives, implementation period, and resources needed to reduce admissions to institutions and increase the number of beneficiaries leaving institutions into new forms of care, especially stimulating family reintegration.
“Shared European values such as human dignity, equality and the respect for human rights should guide us when developing structures of social care and support fit for the 21st century. The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) can support a wide range of measures for transition to community based care and to prevent institutionalization”, said Branko Baričević, Head of European Commission Representation in Croatia.
The World Bank has also invested in this area by helping develop innovative programs of community-based provision of social services, preventing institutionalization, mobilizing support from communities and non-governmental organizations to deliver services to the disabled in Croatia.
“Including people with disabilities and expanding their access to opportunities are key to building sustainable, inclusive and just communities. We have been supporting Croatia in its efforts to develop and improve its social protection system, including the transition from institutions to community and family-based care. The actual transition from institutional to family and community based services has been slower than hoped for in Croatia,” said Elisabetta Capannelli, World Bank Country Manager for Croatia.
Key stakeholders, including representatives of ministries, parliamentary committees for health, social policy and human rights, relevant government and ombuds offices, international and local NGOs and social welfare institutions involved in deinstitutionalization, as well as the European Commission, the World Bank and UNICEF, shared their experiences and knowledge, presenting their programs and discussing directions for a way forward, taking into account the existing allocations from European structural and investment funds aimed at supporting the implementation of planned actions.