Information on National Action Plan for Transformation and Unification of the System of Care for Children at Risk 2009 - 2011
On 19 January 2009 the government discussed a document called “Draft Measure for Transformation and Unification of the System of Care for Children at Risk – Basic Principles“. This document constituted another step ahead in the process of unification of the system of work focused on children and families at risk and a partial fulfilment of tasks set by the Analysis of Current State of Institutional Provision of Care for Children at Risk1). The draft measure for transformation and unification of the system of care for children at risk is the first ever inter-ministerial expression of will to cooperate in order to change the situation. Although the individual sectors continuously strive to improve their work with the children at risk, these efforts are often uncoordinated and sometimes even contradictory. Therefore, any substantial change was primarily conditioned by overcoming the sectoral borders and implementing common procedures. The government initiative thus must be perceived as an impetus to commencement of a process of conceptual, legislative, methodological and education activities resulting into a change of the entire system.
The inter-ministerial cooperation resulted into the National Action Plan for Transformation and Unification of the System of Care for Children at Risk (hereinafter referred to as National Action Plan, NAP), which defines key activities required for improvement of the quality of work with children and families at risk. NAP as a whole has been designed as a cross-sectoral concept, proposed solutions thus apply to all elements of the system of work with children and families at risk without any regard to the relevant ministry responsible for the given area. The National Action Plan also aims to address the general public, closely touched by the NAP’s theme.
The National Action Plan is presented for the period 2009 - 2011.
Targets in the sphere of transformation of the system of work with children and families at risk
- improvement of the quality of work and accessibility of services for children and families at risk (by establishing common quality standards of care for children at risk, setting a life-long education system for workers in the system of care for children at risk, networking and optimizing services to children and families at risk, shifting the emphasis to primary prevention in order to prevent unnecessary, although short-term, placement of children into institutional care, optimizing the management, supervision and funding of the care for children at risk),
- unification of procedures applied by workers upon addressing a particular situation of a child at risk (case conference, individual plan of work with the client),
- reduction of numbers of children placed in any type of long-term institutional care by enhancing the preventive element of the work with a child and family at risk, developing support services for a child and family at risk, increasing the number of duly qualified workers,
- improvement of life chances of children, support to development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities within the widest extent possible and preservation of living standards required for the physical, mental, moral and social development of children2).
Concept of transformation of the system of work with children and families at risk
The National Action Plan is a tool for transforming the system of work with children and families at risk. Support of basic rights of the children at risk requires the system to provide for safe environment in biological (cured and supported) families, sufficient numbers of (qualified and supported) substitute families and professional comprehensive care in family-like home facilities. The National Action Plan is designed as a set of analyses and measures emphasizing the unification and improvement of the work with children and families at risk. The work with a child must comply with quality standards binding on all workers and processes. Requirements on the number and qualification of workers must correspond to needs of clients in the given region, the work must be subject to unified and methodological management. Funding of the work with children and families at risk must be unified and linked to the relevant quality of work.
Particularly in the sphere of multi-disciplinary cooperation (setting of a compulsory team cooperation mechanism) and creation of common information environment of the entities providing care for children at risk the transformation process of the system of care for children and families at risk will undoubtedly apply the already existing tools and results of the project called Early Intervention System (continuous and verified joint project of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and Ministry of Justice – Probation and Mediation Service of the Czech Republic).
Because system changes cannot be implemented separately, the entire document has an cross-sectoral nature, i.e. all measures apply to all the ministries involved, staff requirements (qualification of workers) include workers with no regard to their current sectoral and administrative assignment and management and funding mechanisms apply to the system of care for children and families at risk in general. The transformation relates to all system elements – vertically (from the level of field workers and municipalities to central administration authorities and non-governmental organizations with nation-wide scope of activities) and horizontally (across the ministries involved in the work with children and families at risk, state administration agencies, self-government agencies and non-governmental sector). The National Action Plan is the first fully supra-sectoral document.
The changes must reflect the specific nature of the system of care in the Czech Republic, particularly they must be comprehensive, i.e. must contain any and all interlinked elements of the system, therefore the changes must be implemented simultaneously and must be coordinated. The following areas shall be transformed:
- prevention of threats to children and families, constituted especially by risky behaviour,
- identification of children and families at risk,
- work with families at risk with attention paid to preserving the natural environment of the child,
- work with children in substitute family care (the substitute family shall not be treated as a family at risk but as a family requiring support),
- work with children in institutional care,
- support to entry of children into independent life.
Transforming the system of work with children and families at risk is a long-term process the full implementation of which requires several dozens of years. In view of the current economic crisis the requirement for expenses minimization must be taken into account, therefore the transformation is based on three basic levels:
- analysis of the entire system of care for children and families at risk;
- newly designed professional education for all entities in the system (quality standards applicable to care for children and families at risk, including partial working methodologies, education of social workers involved in social and legal protection of children);
- implementation of new elements into the system.
New implementation targets for the transformation in the next period shall be adjusted and defined according to outputs from the overall analysis in 2011.
Implementation and Supervisory Scheme for National Action Plan
The National Action Plan involves numerous activities implemented by many ministries and thus the transformation must be performed simultaneously along more directions. Unambiguous terms and conditions for NAP implementation and supervision must be set. At the same time real and complete fulfilment of tasks must be ensured in order to prevent any formalization and delays in transforming the system of work with children and families at risk. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has been charged with implementation and coordination of the transformation process3), this ministry shall thus act as a central monitoring body of the transformation and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs as a chairperson of the inter-ministerial coordination group shall be directly responsible to the government for the process of transformation and unification of the system of care for children at risk. Other substantial tasks shall be further assigned to the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Group3), established to elaborate the Draft Measure for Transformation and Unification of the System of Care for Children at Risk. The Inter-Ministerial Coordination Group consists of representatives – Deputy Ministers and Heads of Departments – of the relevant ministries (Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Minister for Human Rights and National Minorities, Ministry for Regional Development, Ministry of Finance) and of the Association of Regions of the Czech Republic and the Union of Cities and Municipalities of the Czech Republic. Members of the inter-ministerial group have been appointed by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. The group shall meet every three months and members of the group shall submit to the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs as the chairperson a comprehensive report on NAP implementation. Partial NAP activities shall be implemented by working groups set for individual NAP topics and constituted by representatives of involved ministries and external experts.
1)Analysis of Current State of Institutional Provision of Care for Children at Risk, approved by the Government Resolution No. 293 of 26 March 2008
2)The Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified by the Federal Assembly of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic on 7 January 1991 and came into effect on 6 February 1991
3)Resolution of the Government of the Czech Republic No. 76 of 19 January 2009