UNICEF Kosovo Alternative Care Services

Focus 2: Placement of children aged 0-3 years in family-based settings

Political change and instability, economic and social distress related to the post-conflict situation and lack of adequate social safety nets, have contributed to an increase in child abandonment in Kosovo. More than 600 infants have been abandoned in Kosovo since 1999. Initially a ‘transit baby house’ was established for infants abandoned in the hospital, attempting to move the children to adoption, foster care or reintegrate them back to birth families.

UNICEF, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and EveryChild implemented a Short Term Professional Foster Care Project, focusing exclusively on under- twos deprived of parental care, as the number of abandoned infants in state hospitals increased. The government through the Centres for Social Work recruited foster carers through radio, TV, newspaper articles, publicity materials and meetings with community groups. Initially the project was funded by UNICEF but now the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare has built foster care allowances into the Kosovo national budget, thereby demonstrating commitment to developing family-based foster care as an alternative to institutional care.

By 2011 around 400 children were placed in foster care and 40 foster families became active foster carers for all categories of children in need of care and protection in Kosovo.

For more information visit: http://www.unicef.org/kosovo

International Social Service, Oak Foundation, SOS Children's Villages International, unicef, ATD Fourth World, Better Care Network, Family for every child, ngo group for the crc, PEPFAR, RELAF, Save the Children, USAID