September 22-23, 2016, Belgrade, Serbia: Resource People from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia came together at the premises of the Republic Institute for Social Protection within the project Regional Resource Centre for Child Protection for Southeast Europe (RRC ChildHub Protection).
This meeting was initiated by the local partner organizations involved in the project - Save the Children North West Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Brave phone (Croatia) and the Center for Youth Integration (Serbia). The aim of the meeting was to exchange experiences on the course of the project, and discussion about upcoming activities and plans. The focus was on two issues - the question of the sustainability of the project and the creation of Advocacy action plans in countries that are involved in the project. The meeting was attended by 17 participants, in addition to the resource persons from the three countries; also members of project teams were present.
When it comes to Advocacy action plans, participants were first discussing in the group, exchanging ideas, experiences, challenges and possible topics that could be the focus of these plans. As a basis for discussion, the recommendations have been taken from local surveys conducted in 2015, in all the countries involved in the project (Baseline Study). The conclusion of the group discussions was that, despite the fact that the recommendations in all three countries are very similar and that most of them actually overlap - that the contexts and political situation is different to the extent that require discussion in small groups – each country individually. Some of the ideas and themes for advocacy are: initiatives that would include recommendations from Baseline Studies in the operational plans for the training of professional workers within the social security system, or the use of the mechanism for planning professional development of those who work with children; Upgrading ChildHub Platform by promoting good practices and positive experiences of the beneficiaries of social protection; lobbying decision makers through meetings, workshops, joint conferences; the creation and accreditation of training programs for professionals who work with children. As one of the biggest challenges in this process, the participants recognized the importance of identifying realistic and indeed achievable goals in their countries.
Another important issue that was part of the agenda of the two-day meeting is the sustainability of the project after 2017. All present agreed on the necessity of ChildHub Platform existence and that it is necessary to work on even greater promotion of CH in the region. Some of the questions were - how to attract faculties and universities to engage more actively in the work of the Platform, and how ChildHub can properly response to interests and needs of these institutions. Proposed ideas and ways to achieve sustainability are: the inclusion of the Chamber of social workers and further work to promote CH Platform in professional circles; achieving financial sustainability through registration fees for webinars; to use all relevant national strategies for future projects that would include some funds for ChildHub; lobbying of professional associations in order to recognize the importance of ChildHub Platform; cooperation with the private faculties that have department for social work (they are more progressive and they require less bureaucratic and administrative procedures); inclusion of a wider circle of NGOs and national organizations/networks for children.
All participants were satisfied with the meeting, stressed the importance of opportunities for online meetings and exchange of practical experiences, but also the many challenges they face in their environments, and expressed the need for similar meetings in the future, for the duration of the project.