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PRESS RELEASEFebruary 16, 2023

Montenegro to Reform the Social Protection System to Better Support Children and Families

A new report by the World Bank and UNICEF calls for providing better health, education and social and child protection services to Montenegro’s children and families

PODGORICA, February 16, 2023—Montenegro has strengthened its social and child protection system in the last decade, however social assistance reaches only a limited number of those most in need and most vulnerable, are the key findings of a newly released report produced by the World Bank and UNICEF and funded by the European Union.

The Social Protection Situational Analysis assesses the extent to which the social protection system in Montenegro fulfils its purpose and provides recommendations for future policy development in each category of social and child protection including social assistance, social services, social insurance - specifically pensions - and labor market programs.

The Analysis finds that the cost effectiveness of Montenegro’s social and child protection system is at risk of deteriorating – with social assistance spending estimated to double by 2023. Investing more in services that support investments in human capital would improve effectiveness in reducing poverty and in increasing the productivity of all members of society. Continued commitment to investments and reforms is therefore required to improve the effectiveness and equity of the system.

Effective and adaptive social and child protection remains crucial to protect the poor and vulnerable. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown gaps in the system’s resilience and flexibility to extend protection to vulnerable citizens during the crisis,” said Christopher Sheldon, World Bank Country Manager for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. “We hope that recommendations from this report will assist the policymakers when designing and adopting social policy responses while finding the right balance between policy changes and fiscal stability.”

Despite a sustained period of economic growth up until 2020, poverty in Montenegro has remained substantial. Coverage of the material support has been low, leading to some of the most vulnerable members of society being excluded from social protection. Reforming the current exclusionary criteria and reassessing the targeting method would help reduce some of the existing exclusion errors.

“The report calls for improving health, education and social and child protection services for children and families. It also calls for providing better support to families at risk to prevent family-child separation, as well as for strengthening fostering services to ensure that every child, including those with disabilities, grows up in a loving family environment," said UNICEF Montenegro Representative Juan Santander. “Finally, this report highlights the need to develop indicators for monitoring and evaluation of the quality of services for children and families; to reform the centers for social welfare to support their staff to work more effectively in the field; and to reassess social assistance eligibility criteria to reach all those in need.”

This publication is part of a series that reviews the challenges facing social protection programs in the Western Balkans and was produced with the financial support of the European Union.



World Bank
Jasmina Hadžić
+387 33 251 502
Jelena Perović
+382 69 225 315


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