Improving social service provision in Croatia
This social welfare sector project is supporting the move towards inclusive, person-centred social service provision in Croatia. Outdated models of institutionalised social service provision are not meeting demand and act to exclude vulnerable groups from active participation in the community and labour market. We are leading a consortium supporting local stakeholders to plan, implement and monitor alternative, community-based social services based on analysis of need and identification of priorities. Work is focused on supporting sector professionals to strengthen two interlinked processes that promote de-institutionalisation: local-level social planning and the transformation of large residential social care homes. By adopting a capacity building approach based on training and the dissemination of international best practice, the project aims to provide a sustainable blueprint for a social care system that supports social inclusion.
The social protection network in Croatia is underdeveloped and demand for social welfare services continues to outstrip supply. Over the last decade, the numbers of those with registered support needs has increased and the difficult economic climate has exposed even more people to poverty and social exclusion. In addition, there is a growing need for more diverse services including those addressing addict rehabilitation and homelessness. Outdated models of institutionalised social care are not meeting these needs adequately and present a barrier to social and economic development in Croatia.
Deinstitutionalisation of social care services has been a key consideration in relation to Croatia’s recent accession to the European Union and has been progressing under the supervision of the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth. This project was established to build on the progress already made and give further impetus to the process through hands-on technical assistance.
We are leading a consortium of partners supporting the Croatian Ministry of Social Policy and Youth to improve the country’s social protection network. Work is focused on strengthening the two interlinked processes of social service planning at county level and the transformation of different types of social care home. Both processes support de-institutionalisation while promoting alternative forms of care in the community.
We are working with key social welfare sector stakeholders to strengthen their ability to develop and deliver appropriate, high quality social services that meet client needs in a cost-effective way. Targeted stakeholders include national government officials as well as social welfare professionals operating at municipality and county levels and in social care homes across the country.
During the inception stage of the project, we conducted comprehensive analyses of previous reform activities in the areas of social planning and social care home transformation. A range of methods were used to consult with local stakeholders including questionnaires, workshops and interviews. The findings from these assessments have been used to inform the next phase of the project which includes delivering extensive training and the development of strategies and actions plans for both processes. Key areas of work include:
- Delivering training, coaching and mentoring on best practice public sector planning and processes for data collection and analysis to inform the delivery of efficient social care and support services
- Support with the development of strategic plans for county-level social service provision and institutional transformation
- Facilitation of workshops, seminars and study tours and the design and delivery of training to promote national and international best practice approaches to social welfare
- Development of manuals and other methodologies for on-going use
This project is supporting the adoption of regional planning processes based on analysis of local needs and the prioritisation of resources to meet those needs. It is also supporting the transformation of Croatia’s 92 social care homes and the establishment of alternative community-based services.
Over the longer term the adoption of improved approaches to social care services planning, delivery and monitoring, drawing on local strengths and international good practice, will help to support Croatia’s broader social inclusion goals.