Fostering Care

Nearly 20 years after a brutal war, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) continues to face challenges in forging effective policies to meet citizens’ needs.

Hear More from Quilong MinThrough a project with the University at Albany’s Center for International Development (SUNY/CID), however, BiH state and federation institutions are building legislative and policy-making capabilities in a number of areas. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development since 2013, the project has the overarching goal of supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina’s efforts towards Euro-Atlantic integration. SUNY/CID has worked in BiH on legislative development since 2009.

One of the project’s latest initiatives is a comprehensive effort to improve the foster care system in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), one of the country’s two political entities comprising nearly 65 percent of the country’s population.

An estimated 1,300 children are in need of foster care in FBiH; of these, approximately 370 are cared for by relatives (with minimal government support), 130 have been placed with foster families, and the remainder reside in institutions, said Lisa Petter, SUNY/CID project director. Many adults with disabilities are also in need of foster care.

SUNY/CID’s team of experts in Sarajevo partnered with a BiH human rights organization, Rights for All, to provide hands-on training and technical assistance in policy development and subject matter expertise to the FBiH Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to create one of the country’s first comprehensive public policy documents of its kind. The document catalogued needs, reviewed complex legal and constitutional issues, and explored options for deinstitutionalizing foster care. It then served as the basis for broad public consultations on the options leading to a draft law on foster care, which will be considered by FBiH legislators in the upcoming term. To increase public awareness, SUNY/CID sponsored an award for media coverage of foster care and the Labor Ministry planned to launch a public campaign on the issue.“ Moving forward, our hope is that we will be able to help our partners apply the experience we’ve gained to other public policy issues,” said Petter. “New policies and legislation can be effective only if they are drafted through a transparent process that engages the public. I am very proud that our partners were able to reach out effectively, with our help.”