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“For a Stronger Family” – first set of activities presented

Foto: MIlej/UNICEF

Zagreb, 14 November 2017

QUALITY SUPPORT FOR A STRONGER FAMILY

Building trust between the social care system and parents to find better solutions for children

The first set of activities from a series of actions of the “For a Stronger Family” programme was presented today. The programme aims to ensure high quality social support for families experiencing difficulties. This programme, initiated by the Ministry of Demographics, Family, Youth and Social Policy and UNICEF, in cooperation with their partners, will include about 1,400 social workers, educators, and legal and other experts working with vulnerable families. Through this programme, they will acquire efficient tools to help them achieve quality collaboration with parents in need of help. The programme is implemented by the Society for Psychological Assistance in cooperation with the Croatian Association of Social Workers.

"This part of the  programme “For a Stronger Family”, worth more than HRK 3.3 million, will be implemented from 2017 to 2020 and, on a yearly basis, more than 5,500 families and 29,000 children will benefit from the programme through the social care system."

Poverty, unemployment, the lack of services, troubled relationships or chronic illness often represent additional challenges in family life, and thus it is important for parents confronting these challenges to have social support. The programme focuses precisely on providing support in such circumstances.

Foto: VKljajo/UNICEF

Nada Murganić, Minister of Demographics, Family, Youth and Social Policy, announced that “it is crucial to mark the World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse (19 November) every year in order to constantly remind people of this issue and raise awareness of the whole of society, parents and children’s caregivers, and all experts working with children, that child abuse is simply not allowed. We will continue to systematically work on the prevention of all forms of violence against children at home, including the sensitisation and education of all experts. Systematic investment in the development of parental competences is necessary, especially for parents who lack social support and who are experiencing many difficulties, because parents exposed to a larger number of objective stressors in life, such as unemployment, poverty, illness or being the victim of violence in childhood themselves, show a greater risk of committing violence against children”.

Foto: MIlej/UNICEF

Professor Marina Ajduković of the Department of Social Work at the Faculty of Law in Zagreb stated: “Research has shown that parents experiencing financial issues, unemployment and illness, and those who lack support from their environment display violent behaviour against children more often due to stress and the feeling of helplessness. Although prohibited by law, physical punishment of children is still widespread in Croatia”. Professor Ajduković, who is also head of the programme at the Society for Psychological Assistance, whose goal is to improve the systematic support system for families with children at risk, went on to say: “During the past year, one in four 16-year-olds experienced physical punishment or psychological abuse, or witnessed violence between parents, and one in eight 16-year-olds were physically abused”.

These children are involved in peer violence more often than others, either as perpetrators or as victims, and they are more likely to behave aggressively and break the rules. At the same time, they suffer from anxiety, depression and different psychosomatic disorders.

“Difficult life circumstances can be overcome with timely and quality support. Every family occasionally encounters challenges, and asking for support is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of responsibility. By investing our resources into support for parents in crisis, we create conditions for a healthier and happier society”, said Valentina Otmačić, Head of the UNICEF Office for Croatia.

Continually investing in work with families who need assistance and support plays an important role in the protection of children’s wellbeing. By strengthening biological families in crisis, and with the help of new services, social care centres will be able to ensure a holistic approach for the most vulnerable children and act in their best interest.

The programme “For a Stronger Family” (worth more than HRK 3.3 million) will be implemented from 2017 to 2020 and, on a yearly basis, more than 5,500 families and 29,000 children will benefit from the programme through the social care system. Besides the Croatian Association of Social Workers, other partners of the programme are the “Let’s Grow Together” Centre for Parents’ Support, the Society for Psychological Assistance, Sirius – Centre for psychological consultation, education and research, and the Forum for the Quality Foster Care of Children.

 

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Updated: 14 November 2017
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