The situation of children and youth with disabilities in the social protection system- Challenges and opportunities

21. Aug 2018.

There are 20 institutions for the accommodation of children and youth in Serbia. 11 of them are institutions for children and youth without parental care, 3 are institutions for education of children and youth and 6 are institutions for children and youth with disabilities. According to the latest report of the Republic Institute for Social Protection (2017), 1455 beneficiaries (children, youth and adults) live in institutions for children and youth with developmental disabilities.

In these homes, children and young people most often live alongside with adults, which increases the risk of abuse of younger users, and jeopardizes their stay in conditions that, according to credible research, are detrimental to the cognitive, emotional, social and physical development of children. Children placed in one institution often remain there until they are adults, and sometimes they grow old in the same institution.  Often, the aforementioned  phenomenon - that children are growing up and becoming adults residential institutions - is misused by the authorities to show the statistical reduction of the number of underage users of the institutions, while they actually remain in the same place,  living in the same conditions.

This life-path of social welfare beneficiaries with disabilities is a consequence of a poor normative framework, of the preservation of old and outdated attitudes among social care professionals and legislators, as well as low investments in the social protection system.

Other relevant pieces of legislation for the regulation of the social protection system are the Family Law, the Pension and Disability Insurance Act, the Financial Support to the Family with Children Act, the Rules on Detailed Conditions and Standards for the Provision of Social Protection Services, and others.

The whole document can be downloaded here.