The report was conducted as part of the “Support for better social services for the most vulnerable groups in Kosovo”, a project funded by the European Union, co-funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and implemented by Save the Children Kosovo in cooperation with the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research. The aim of the project is to contribute to an effective transformation of the social service system in Kosovo for improved quality and availability of the local social and community-based services for children and vulnerable people living at social risk. Decentralization of social services. Until 2009 the provision of social services was conducted by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW) through Centres for Social Work (CSWs).
Decentralization of social services from the central level to the municipalities became a priority since 2009 with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the MLSW, the respective municipalities, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Local Government Administration. However, this process is not linked concurrently with budget planning according to the provisions of the Law on Local Government Finances, which determine the procedures for delegating competencies from the central administration level to the local level. In this regard, there is a lack of clarity among municipalities about the local budget available for social services, which has resulted in considerable variation in the levels of support to social service delivery. Limited financial resources and human capacities, as well as a lack of proper planning result in poor provision of social services to the most vulnerable people in Kosovo. Moreover, municipalities do not have accurate data on the population numbers disaggregated by gender, age groups, ethnicity, ability or vulnerability, which has a negative impact on the planning and implementation of activities.
Decentralization implies a change in institutional culture, creating a socio-political context conducive to a transfer of authority and a transfer of finance from central government to local government in ensuring qualitative and effective service delivery. It is therefore important to ensure that the interests of the population are taken into consideration during the drafting process of the central policies and implementation by local authorities. In this report, the main challenges of the decentralization of social services in Kosovo are analysed:
In order to properly implement the process of decentralizing social services, several steps can be taken by central and local authorities in Kosovo in improving the quality and sustainability of their delivery for the most vulnerable groups. The report therefore concludes with a wide range of recommendations for different governance levels and stakeholders.