An innovative support model for youth in foster care in four districts

New project for active inclusion and employment of youth in foster care presented at the media conference

Kragujevac, 3 April 2019

A new project aiming to improve social inclusion and labour market integration of youth in foster care in Sumadija, Rasina, Raski and Moravicki districts was presented today in Kragujevac. The project “Inter-sector safety net for active inclusion of youth in foster care“ is implemented by the Centre for Foster Care and Adoption Kragujevac, in partnership with the Business Development Centre Kragujevac and the Association “Let`s Do It Together”. During the two-year project funded by the European Union and co-funded by the Government of the Republic of Serbia, worth over 143 thousand EUR, the project partners will work on the establishment of the local support networks for youth in foster care.

The Director of the Centre for Foster Care and Adoption Slavisa Sorak announced that the local support networks would be established in Kragujevac and Krusevac during the year 2019, and in Cacak and Kraljevo during the year 2020. “The local support networks for youth in foster care present a network of organizations, institutions and companies that agreed to cooperate on social inclusion of youth in foster care, as well as on increasing their employability and employment”, said Sorak.

In order to interconnect all relevant stakeholders within the local support networks, it is necessary to raise awareness about the needs of youth in foster care and necessity of an inter-sector approach, said the Project Coordinator Sandra Jovanovic Belotic. “Youth in foster care are leaving care insufficiently prepared for independent living. Facing difficulties when integrating into the local community and labour market, they are at high risk of poverty and social exclusion. Successful transition to independent living cannot be the sole responsibility of the social care system and foster parents, as it largely depends on support from other sectors, said Jovanovic Belotic.

It is particularly important that employers recognize the importance of support to youth in foster care, but also their potential as future workers, as pointed out by the Director of the Business Development Centre Marija Stojadinovic.  “Therefore, one of the main project goals is to intensify our cooperation with the employers and to integrate them in the local support networks, where they can get all necessary guidelines on how to support youth in foster care and get in touch with those seeking training or employment”, said Stojadinovic. She also said that work based learning is among the most effective types of support for increasing employability and employment, as strengthening knowledge and competences enables a young person to rely on his/her internal strengths.

During the project, 175 young persons will receive an individualized assistance within the local support networks, including preparation of activation plans, career counselling and guidance, while 60 of them will get a chance to pre-qualify and gain first working experience in companies seeking new workers. 30 social welfare professionals and 175 foster parents will be trained to support active inclusion of youth in foster care.

At the end of the conference, stakeholders from all relevant sectors, including social care, health care, education, employment services to employers, were invited to participate in the development of the local support networks in Kragujevac, Krusevac, Cacak and Kraljevo.

For further information, please contact Program Coordinator Sandra Jovanovic Belotic, +381 64 2926039, e-mail: active.inclusion.yfc@gmail.com

The “European Union Support to Active Youth Inclusion” project, total value of which is EUR 4.7 million, financed by the EU (IPA 2014) and co-funded by the Government of the Republic of Serbia, aims to ensure greater social inclusion of youth population in Serbia by increasing of employment, youth activity, work experience and entrepreneurship practice among youth population. Through the project the EU and Government of Serbia has granted 24 grants, which will be implemented in more than 35 cities and municipalities in Serbia by the end of 2021. The projects implemented by the national and provincial social welfare institutions, municipalities and cities, citizens associations, foundations and educational institutions will increase the scope and quality of services at the local level in education and employment, innovative practice, active inclusion mechanisms and models and thereby strengthen the social inclusion of youth. The impact and tangible outcomes of the project are expected at all levels concerning the overall readiness and increased capacities of relevant institutions for the innovative development and management of youth active inclusion measures, policy development in line with best EU practices, and effective use of related EU financial assistance.

The project is managed by the Ministry of Finance, Department for Contracting and Financing of EU Funded Programmes (CFCU), while the project beneficiary institutions are the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs and Ministry of Youth and Sports.

More about the project can be found on www.ukljucivanjemladih.rs

The European Union’s donations to Serbia exceed EUR 3.6 billion from 2000 to date. The funds have been used to support development, quality of life and reforms in: civil protection, flood relief and protection, education, connectivity, environment, health and consumer protection, culture, rule of law, local development, jobs and growth, public administration, migration, public financial management, civil society and media, social inclusion, youth and sport. EU support is implemented in cooperation with the Government of Serbia. The European Union is a larger donor of development aid to Serbia than all other international donors put together.