The Center for Youth Integration in Belgrade is one of ChildHub’s founding partners, coming together in 2015 and sharing the mission to create learning and networking opportunities for child protection professionals in South-East Europe. Since the very beginning, the Centre has been represented by Dragana Vuckovic, who, in her role as ChildHub coordinator in Serbia, brings the mission to reality. Read an interview with Dragana to discover the most rewarding aspects of her work and how ChildHub supports professionals.
Tell us a bit about your role as a ChildHub coordinator.
My job is actually everything that falls within the scope of the job of any other project coordinator. So, my task is to coordinate everything that is happening in Serbia within the ChildHub regional initiative, to ensure that the set goals are achieved and the planned activities are implemented. At first glance, it may seem that I am lonely in all this, as the ChildHub team of each country consists of only one local coordinator, but it is not so, because I work with great colleagues from the Center for Youth Integration and within the project, I have the honor and pleasure to work with representatives of institutions, civil sector, universities. And they are all top professionals in the field of social and child protection.
What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your role?
The most rewarding part is the cooperation with a large number of experts in the field of social and child protection. Thanks to this cooperation, I have a phenomenal opportunity to learn and progress every day and, on the other hand, to listen carefully to their needs and try, with the help of colleagues from other countries, to support them in their work to protect and promote children’s rights. Apart from this, I definitely appreciate meeting the ChildHub coordinators from other countries in the region, some of whom I have known for years and besides great cooperation, we also like to hang out at our regional gatherings, because we became friends.
How is ChildHub addressing the gaps in the child protection system of Serbia?
We must be honest and say that the system of protection of children’s rights has made a lot of progress in Serbia over the past decades. Unfortunately, there are still a number of problems, both within the legal framework and regulations, but what is crucial is that existing regulations are not fully implemented. The lack of resources and capacity is also a challenge faced by all those involved in the protection of children’s rights in Serbia, and I believe that our country is not alone in this.
ChildHub provides an opportunity for professionals to get to know each other, share their experiences, the challenges they face and examples of good practice. Also, I deeply believe in the synergy effect that ChildHub enables – every initiative is stronger if it comes not just from one individual, but involves a huge number of experts, organisations, and countries. In addition, the opportunity to learn and progress is something that most of our associates point out as the most important resource that ChildHub offers, here I primarily mean webinars that are available to them after the event, at a time when it suits them, but also the free online courses within the ChildHub Academy.
What are the challenges that child protection professionals encounter during the pandemic? How is ChildHub supporting them?
The pandemic forced the entire planet to reorient to online functioning, and this was a familiar terrain for ChildHub, because over the years we have been developing and upgrading our online interactive platform that serves primarily professionals, but also students and future experts in social and child protection. We tried to publish as much news as possible about the pandemic, but above all - useful tips and experiences from different countries, we held numerous webinars tackling the impact of the pandemic on the work of social workers, schools and other institutions, as well as webinars that supported parents, children and youth. The main advantage of ChildHub was the fact that our work and support to experts, from the very beginning, was based on online interaction, and I believe that we used it in the best possible way.
ChildHub has recently launched its new platform. What do you appreciate most about it?
It is always nice when something is new, and still useful, serving the original purpose. I think that the new website is even more oriented towards our primary target group, it is easy to search and use and, of course, it looks great!
The Child Protection Hub is led by Terre des hommes (Regional Office in Hungary in collaboration with country offices in Albania, Kosovo, Moldova, Romania and Greece), in partnership with Save the Children North West Balkans, Know-how Centre for Alternative Care for children in Bulgaria, Brave Phone in Croatia, and Centre for Youth Integration in Serbia.
ChildHub is funded by the Austrian Development Agency, Oak Foundation, and Terre des hommes Foundation.