Round table in Panatau

16.10.2015

On October, 2015 AMURTEL organized a round table discussion with public authorities from the local council, the Department of Child Protection and our own representatives on the theme of  Sub-contracting Social Services.  Technically, the mechanism for public authorities to diversity and decentralize social services by subcontracting NGOs exists, however it has remained under-utilized throughout the country due to a lack of information, regulations and clarifying legislation.  While in the rest of Europe, this strategy has already been successfully used for a number of years and has brought greater efficiency and responsiveness in delivering services to local communities, Romania has lagged behind.  The round table discussion was organized within a larger advocacy campaign of “FONPC” the Romanian Federation of NGOs working for Child Protection.

The long term sustainable future of AMURTEL and the majority of NGOs in Romania will depend on the government’s ability to appropriately co-finance the services we provide. The days of depending on foreign funding have been steadily dwindling since Romania joined the EU.  In the meantime, there are still big gaps in service provision on the local levels and funding for social services has been declining even though needs have been rising.  In Romania, there is  48.5% rate of child-poverty, thus indicating that nearly half of Romanian children are living below the poverty line, with approximately 28.9% of the population experiencing severe deprivation. Overall 40.4% of the Romanian population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion – making it the country with the second highest statistic in all of Europe.

In  the meantime, the public sector is not able to keep up with the demand – currently there is a ratio of one social worker to 1732 beneficiaries, and the social services departments are chronically understaffed by at least 50%.  There is a need for the government to allocate a greater proportion of the national budget to cover these critically needed services. However, rather than spending it in centralized programs which can be burdened with beaurocratic constraints, if these funds are subcontracted to NGOs who can design programs based on the needs they directly assess from the community, the money can be spent in ways that deliver greater impact.

Greater collaboration between the public and private sector is essential for long term improvements in quality of life, especially for at risk populations in rural areas such as Panatau.