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Lessons from Croatia: Innovative solutions for children in alternative care

With support from the Martin James Foundation, Eurochild has provided technical assistance and sub-granting to our member FICE Croatia throughout the COVID pandemic period. Our goal with this work has been to accelerate deinstitutionalisation reforms in Croatia, both in terms of political prioritisation for the transition towards community-based social services and in the lack of growth of foster carers in the country. Read more about why we are working with FICE Croatia here.

Achievements in Croatia:

Eurochild’s partnership with FICE Croatia is playing a role in the gradual shift in public sentiment towards the need for deinstitutionalisation. With our support, FICE Croatia has:

  • Carried out a needs assessment & subsequently delivered training on deinstitutionalisation of alternative care for children towards foster care for relevant professionals and institutions. They have used a ‘cascade-model’, enabling trained professionals to pass on this learning to colleagues in their respective organisations
  • Produced nationally-tailored guidelines on the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care for children in collaboration with the University of Zagreb, experts working with children in care and care leavers
  • Strengthened their digital skills to ensure continuity of education trainings, consultancy, and peer to peer meetings among foster carers
  • Convened an expert roundtable on deinstitutionalisation reform, together with Eurochild and SOS Children’s Villages Croatia. They have provided expert feedback to amendments of foster care law to ensure better safeguards for children. Thanks to the technical assistance provided, they have become a more visible and trustworthy partner for national authorities.

FICE Croatia achieved the goals set with this project, and made some real inroads when it comes to developing their own organisational capacity. Read on below to learn more.

Organisational development:

As a primarily voluntary-based organisation, the additional funding and technical assistance provided has really helped develop FICE Croatia’s organisational & advocacy capacities. Eurochild support enabled a better understanding of the needs of foster carers and professionals in Croatia, and replicable experiences in project management, delivering training and publishing national-focused guidance on deinstitutionalisation.

“The webinar about deinstitutionalisation that FICE Croatia organised, helped us confirm and acknowledge the fact that only good examples and life-changing stories about fostering can help in motivating people to become foster parents.” Tena Bosak, Forum for Quality Foster Care, Croatia.

At a practical level, the team in FICE Croatia learnt that there was a higher demand and need than expected for the training materials developed in this project. With greater dissemination, FICE Croatia feels that they can reach an even larger audience. They will take this learning with them after this project. The outcomes of the project will also inform and have significant impact on the upcoming work of FICE Croatia.

 “We in Eurochild are proud to have partnered with our member FICE Croatia to develop their capacities to advocate for the rights of children in alternative care. We hope that this partnership will catalyse increased priority for the transition from institutional to community- and family-based care in Croatia.” - Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General, Eurochild.

While it proved challenging to engage with local and national authorities, FICE Croatia has enhanced its reputation with national partners, including SOS Children’s Villages Croatia and the Croatian Ombudsman for Children, paving the way for continued collaborations towards deinstitutionalisation in Croatia.




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