Simplicity as the ultimate sophistication. And how we want to make it happen

Flickr/Tobyoter

Why are social inclusion procedures kept to a level of complexity that actually denies inclusion? Why is there an excessive administrative burden placed on already vulnerable people? Why is it that an illiterate over-worked and exploited teenage mother has to put together tons of documents and fill in overly complicated applications and forms to access a few euros of state support? Why is this mother expected to navigate an endless number of offices that will tell her that she needs one more document and one more stamp before she can buy a few litres of milk for her baby? Why is everything so hard and complex? Is this level of crushing complexity something that can be addressed?

These were some of the questions that led us to develop the project ‘Young With A Voice’ aimed at increasing the capacity of young people at risk of social & economic marginalisation to raise their voice when it comes to defending their own interests. The project was developed by ChildPact and it is funded by the European Commission through the Civil Society Facility. The main applicant is Open Club Serbia and our implementing partners are: BKTF Albania, Naša Djeca Association Zenica Bosnia and Herzegovina, Children First Montenegro and KOMF Kosovo.

Through the project activities envisaged by “Young With A Voice” we intend, first of all to encourage an evidence-based policy making, and we start this by presenting the results of ChildPact’s Child Protection Index in the framework of a regional wide conference. Within this conference, the risks of no-action in front of the vulnerabilities of the current generation of under-age citizens will be discussed, together with the feasibility of a youth-led Youth Wellbeing Index. Secondly, we plan to enable the voices of the national child-focused coalitions to better echo the needs of vulnerable groups by providing them all the necessary communication and advocacy tools through social media trainings, story-telling workshops, contests, and advocacy & negotiations trainings.

Finally, the project also aims to create an innovative consultation methodology of the vulnerable children and youth by making their stand-points heard on issues related to access to services, social integration, etc. Through this consultation process, we aim not only to create an impressive pool of legislation improvement ideas, but also to transform the way we think about the consultation of the vulnerable groups, in general. This is part of our Simplicity Campaign. Furthermore, through organised “simplicity workshops” and national “simplicity campaigns”, we also encourage professionals to contribute to the simplification of child protection ideas by giving their views over crucial factors that enable the access of marginalised children and youth to the welfare system. In the end, all the ideas pulled from the children, the experts and the wider public will be presented to the decision makers during high-level hearings and meetings. We will be advocating for the simplification of the current legislation and administrative directives that impact the well-being of children.

It’s been 20 years since governments in our region have been trying to reform their child protection services. With the help of donors and members of the civil society, new legal frameworks were introduced, institutional capacity has been built and new community based services have been tested. However, today we are still shown that such a top-down approach needs more in order to be efficient. We argue that it needs to be more simple. And bottom-up driven.