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“Financing for Better Care” Conference in Moldova Highlights the Crucial Role of Members of the Social Service Workforce in Collaborative Care Reform Efforts

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by Beth Bradford, Senior Associate, Maestral International and Marie Blum, Program Manager of Influence, Learning and Communications, Changing the Way We Care.

Image of Financing for Better Care Conference participantsIn June 2023, Chisinau, Moldova played host to the Financing for Better Care Conferencea momentous gathering of leaders and advocates in the realm of care reform. This significant event brought together a diverse array of participants, including local government authorities, caregivers, care leavers, civil society representatives, ministers, parliamentarians, and renowned experts from the World Bank and the United Nations.

At the heart of the conference was a paradigm shift in Moldova's approach to financing care and safeguarding its children. Speaker after speaker emphasized the need to redirect financial resources toward family-based care, envisioning a social welfare system that could truly support all of Moldova's at-risk children. The message was clear: investing in family-based care amounts to an investment in Moldova's future, one that promises substantial dividends for generations to come.

A highlight of the event was the active participation of youth and caregivers, as showcased in the inspiring opening video. The closing statements, equally significant, reiterated the importance of their involvement. Jamieson Davies, Catholic Relief Service’s Country Manager for Moldova, emphasized the vital importance of including individuals with lived experience of residential care institutions in the process of care reform.

In the wake of this conference, Changing the Way We Care leadership engaged with key figures in the Moldovan government. The Speaker of Parliament made a firm commitment, echoed on his Facebook page, to ensure that zero children remain in institutional care while strengthening and enhancing family-based care. The Minister of Social Labour and Social Protection similarly pledged to reach the goal of zero children in institutional care, marking a shared aspiration for a brighter future.

Image of Vivien ThomsonIntegral to the Conference was the presentation by Ms. Vivien Thomson, the Children and Families Policy and Practice Lead from Social Work Scotland. Her valuable insights underscored the importance of investing in the social service workforce to drive meaningful care reform, and shape a better future. Drawing from lessons learned in Scotland's Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) policy framework, she illuminated the critical role of social workers and the need to empower them as the glue that holds together multi-agency teams.

Ms. Thomson also emphasized the significance of early intervention, supporting families, and fostering collaboration across disciplines - principles at the core of GIRFEC. This model, grounded in research and evidence, aligns with child well-being indicators, aiming to ensure that children are safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible, and included. The shared responsibility concept emerged as a powerful outcome of this practice model, reinforcing the collective commitment to child well-being.

Furthermore, Ms. Thomson highlighted the pivotal role played by social workers in social protection, particularly in identifying, assessing, and safeguarding individuals at risk. Their role extends to adults at risk, high-risk offenders, and children with diverse needs. However, she also emphasized the principle of minimal intervention, intervening only when necessary and using the least intrusive measures.

In conclusion, the Financing for Better Care Conference marked a watershed moment in Moldova's commitment to providing care and protection for its children. It underlined the country’s shift towards family-based care. The commitments made by Moldovan leaders following the conference herald a promising era, in which the welfare of children is at the forefront of the nation's agenda, echoing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and reinforcing the promise that all children should grow up in safe, nurturing, and supported families.