Association ROMA S.O.S., financially supported by UNICEF, today held an event in Skopje to promote a publication on the utilization of financial benefits and the factors that limit the access of the Roma community to the right to child allowance, special allowance, parental allowance and one-off financial allowance for a newborn, before representatives of 6 Centers for Social Work and local associations from the municipalities of Prilep, Bitola, Shtip, Kumanovo, Gjorce Petrov and Shuto Orizari, which were covered with the research in the period from November 2016 to February 2017.

…..The report provides an explanation for the trends indicating that the number of beneficiaries of these rights decreased during the years 2012-2015, with the only difference in the parental allowance where the number of beneficiaries increased.

*Special accent was put on the fact that the parental allowance is conditioned by gynecological examinations of women and it is an obstacle for the Roma community, especially in the municipality of Shuto Orizari, having in mind that access to the gynecologist is limited or disabled. Additionally, the legal framework foresees the use of this right exclusively by the mother, which implies that children in her absence do not receive the necessary support from the state, although the father exercises parental care.

*Child allowance is intended only for families where at least one of the parents is employed and receives a regular minimum wage, but not for families who are users of social welfare. This approach severely disadvantages the children from families living in poverty.

Recommendations and opinions from the present speakers on how changes to social measures can improve their implementation and the effects on the field:

⇒ By working together, we will ensure that no child is excluded from the required development support. This is the main mission of UNICEF, and for that reason, we welcome the commitment and openness for intersectoral cooperation both by the competent ministries and by the centers for social work and civic associations in order to provide better conditions for the protection of children, especially those of the vulnerable categories, as in the case of the Roma – said the UNICEF’s deputy-representative in the Republic of Macedonia, Ms. Elspet Eriksson.

⇒ The parental and child allowance in the past years have not reached their aim and for this reason the MLSP has formed a working group that will focus on re-grouping social benefits for children to make them more accessible to the most vulnerable categories of families. In the next period, the MLSP will advocate introducing an individual approach in offering assistance and support, because each family is specific to itself and social workers need to be ready to meet their demands if we really want to get away from children’s poverty or a certain family risk. The Centers for Social Work need to develop a partnership with the civil sector in meeting the common goals, having in mind that there are some incompetent staff who do not always have the necessary expertise to fulfill the tasks – said Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Ms. Mila Carovska.

⇒ The trend of reducing and non-using of allocated budget funds for social benefits of the citizens should be changed in direction of their increase and consistent utilization, in order to encompass and support a larger group of families from the Roma community when using the rights for children, pointed the Minister without Portfolio and National Coordinator of the Strategy for Roma, Mr. Samka Ibraimoski.

⇒ A clear and concise explanation of the reason for the termination of the rights with the CSW Decisions is necessary in order to adequately direct the citizens on the legal instruction i.e. on which grounds to appeal, and not only normative information about the law or the article on which the right is terminated. It is necessary for the Centers for Social Work to act promptly because their failure to act can be a reason for not realizing or terminating the rights. It is unacceptable nowadays that the Roma community is still discriminated in the procedures for exercising the rights before the institutions. Better informing of socially vulnerable citizens about the criteria, i.e. the conditions, should be a priority for all public workers – was the conclusion of the deputy – Ombudsman, Ms. Vaska Bajramovska Mustafa.

Nesime Salioska, Executive Director of ROMA S.O.S. and Aleksandar Lazovski from the UNICEF office in Skopje informed the attendees about the preparation of a public national campaign through which the Roma communities will be targeted and will be brought closer to the necessary information on the procedures for exercising the rights for child allowance and special allowance as well as the possibilities for protection when the right is terminated. Establishing a direct partnership between all the present parties is the next step for which everyone expressed readiness.

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