Result 1: Form institutional facilities in the units of local self-government with a view of building capacities to deal with poverty and social exclusion The units of local self-government (that do not have them) should form departments, and the larger municipalities should form sectors for social work with people at risk or need support as beneficiaries of social security.
Establish procedures and mechanisms for identification and support of the poor and vulnerable categories of citizens in the municipalities.
A local database of vulnerable categories needs to be created, in order to better design the local policies and capacities to deal with poverty.
The municipalities should develop formal mechanisms for identification and consultationswith the vulnerable and socially excluded groups.
Propose solutions and programs for employment of the poor and socially vulnerable categories at the level of municipalities through action plans and specific measures and activities
Result 2. Staff the local self-governments with educated employees that will deal with poverty and social exclusion
Employment of professional staff equipped with appropriate resources and equipment (vehicles) for field social work within the municipality;
Training the professional staff from the local self-government to implement programs for social prevention and recognize the needs of the vulnerable groups;
Employ social workers in schools and training the professional teams in the schools to provide social work in education.
For the purposes of finding human resources to quickly staff the units of the local self-government that work with the vulnerable groups, the municipalities can engage volunteers, professional officers working on short term contracts, part time officers, shared work tasks and other flexible work practices, or they can use the existing staff from the relevant institutions on a rotational basis (on a weekly or a monthly basis), on call basis, or engage experts on certain days of the week.
Open free legal counseling offices in the units of local self-government that will provide support and legal aid in cases of unequal treatment between men and women in cooperation with the local level gender mechanisms, the centers for social work and the NGO sector.
Result 3. Develop strategies for reducing poverty at local level
The units of local self-government should enact local strategic documents and action plans with appropriate budget allocations, that will help provide a long term solution to the problems of poverty and social exclusion. These documents should be based on integral, multi-sector and coordinated planning.
Develop a detailed plan for monitoring the implementation of the strategic documents for reducing the poverty and providing social inclusion at the municipal level.
The municipalities should develop strategic guidelines for cooperation and support of the local NGO sector, working in this field, especially having in mind the potential of the NGO sector to implement and attract useful projects. The local level NGO sector can be an extended hand of the ULSG and/or CSW and a good quality service provider. This requires strengthening of the nongovernmental organizations that provide social services. The municipalities or the CSW would pay the nongovernmental organizations for the services provided, in accordance with the previously established criteria.
In addition to offering training and retraining, the municipalities need to systemically work on the psycho-social strengthening of the vulnerable categories, depending on the risk which they have, which would simplify the process of their employment.
The municipalities should organize public works of public interest for seasonal and temporary works, in addition to the active employment measures of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia in various fields (for example in the utility field: cleaning of green areas and riverbeds, waste removal etc.), that will last for a period of six months during which the social financial assistance is suspended (or continuously paid) and then it continues. These categories of citizens can be involved in the support of other vulnerable categories, i.e. SFA beneficiaries can be engaged in providing social services (for example: assistance to old people at home, etc.).
The municipalities should introduce specific services for social protection and inclusion of the people from rural areas and other vulnerable groups at the level of the municipality (for example:opening of soup kitchens and, in larger rural communities, provide transportation to healthcare institutions several times per week etc.). Building of preschool institutions in rural areas is yet another important measure to increase the level of inclusion since the earliest childhood.
Provision of physical accessibility to the institutions for people with physical disabilities. This is an area that needs to be improved on national as well as on local level.
Result 4 Help the vulnerable groups to deal with the poverty and social exclusion
Create a more flexible legislation for determining the criteria for receiving SFA, because there are categories of citizens that do not fully comply with the requirements, but still urgently need SFA. In addition, the level of the financial assistance should be calculated on an individual basis – in accordance with the needs of the applicants.
In order to make the services provided by the CSW as much accessible, as possible to the citizens in rural areas, mobile teams for social work will have to be established. These teams will work out of a mobile office in a van and will visit, at specific prearranged times, the rural and urban areas where there are no CSW offices.
In order to identify and help the most vulnerable groups of citizens (especially those that live in areas which are difficult to reach), it is necessary to intensify the implementation of social prevention by introducing special organizational units within the CSW.
It is necessary to strengthen the capacities of the CSW officers, to identify vulnerable groups, in order to properly design the needs and target the social services.
Training of the employment center staff to help the vulnerable groups train or retrain or otherwise adapt to the needs of the labor market.
Day centers and counseling facilities should be opened at the level of the entire Republic of Macedonia. These facilities will be available for several categories of citizens, especially the vulnerable groups.
There is a need for systemic, coordinated and long term cooperation between the centers for social work, the municipalities, the employment centers, the nongovernmental organizations, the schools, police stations and other organizations, with a view of resolving the social issues.
Create affirmative, encouraging and positive measures conducive to reducing the risk of social exclusion of women and reducing the poverty rate of women, with a special emphasis on women from rural areas and the ethnic communities. Improve the reproductive health of men and women.
Result 5: Form modules for better coordination of the state with the local authorities regarding the implementation of the Strategy
Employ social protection coordinators for cooperation with the line ministries and the centers for social work, in the local level organizational units (departments or sectors). These coordinators would be involved in the creation of policies on national level, especially those related to the living standard of the population and social inclusion.
Involve the Association of the Units of Local Self-Government and the Ministry of Local Self-Government in the development of the policies related to social issues at the municipal level.
Form local coordinating bodies for social issues, comprising relevant local stakeholders (ULS, EC, CSW, NGO and other organizations or institutions as needed). The municipality will appoint a person responsible to organize the meetings and monitor the implementation of the measures.
Form an inter-sector body responsible for attracting domestic and foreign investments funds for the purpose of resolving the social problems at local level. This body would also contain representatives from the planned statistical regions.
Also, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Ministry of Local Self-Government and the municipalities, should track the enforcement of the regulations related to resolving the requirements of the poor, and especially the Law on Local Self-Government, article 22 (which stipulates the responsibilities of the municipalities in the social sphere) and, if needed, propose changes or additions to the legislation.
Result 6. Form a budgetary allocation for reduction of poverty and social exclusion
The municipal budget process should provide for funds for implementation of the strategies and the decisions enacted by the municipalities to reduce poverty and social exclusion.
Develop ways of cooperation with the private sector to resolve local social problems, by developing corporate social responsibility stimulation models.
Organize donor events with the local business community; seriously focus on the implementation of the existing models for supporting the employers when they employ people from specific vulnerable groups, as well as a more rigorous monitoring of these funds, in order to prevent possible misuse of the funds by citizens or companies.
Stimulate the development and implementation of projects on social issues at local level, social protection, social inclusion and poverty reduction, through direct budget financing or co-financing by the municipalities and the national authorities, which increases the ownership of the social sphere projects.
Support initiatives for business association, business incubators at local level and quickly providing information to the citizens on starting a business within the municipality.
Encouraging self-employment in addition to the active policies implemented by the state and the local authorities, provide contributions by facilitating business start-ups by forming locations and infrastructure mitigations for the businesses.
Introduce the concept of gender sensitive budgeting in the budgetary policies of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia and the units of local self-government.
Appropriate allocation of the financial and human resources to the national and local level gender equality mechanisms, in order to ensure more effective functioning and compliance with the legally mandated roles and obligations.
Conduct surveys to measure how well the citizens are informed about the protection of their rights and the mechanisms that exist in the Republic of Macedonia, both on local and national level.
Local level institutions should come closer to the vulnerable groups of citizens and to perceive them as their clients which need help. Therefore the level of information of the citizens about the regulations that can help them get out of situations which pose risks, has to be increased. In that context, it is necessary to raise awareness and educate the employees in the local level institutions about the needs of these categories of citizens and how to accommodate and resolve them.
Improve the situation of women and reduce the level of poverty and the risk of social exclusion with a greater focus on the activities aimed at incorporating the gender concept in the policies on central and local level from a social inclusion point of view, through the gender institutional mechanisms in cooperation with the nongovernmental sector.
Enact a Gender Equality Strategy whereby the Government will show a firmer political will and readiness to comprehensively and in a coordinated way, work on improving the position of women in all spheres of social life, especially considering the special challenges facing women of different ethnicities, especially in the local context.