USAID Grant To Trag Foundation Supports Improvements To Serbia’s Social Care Services System

For Immediate Release

Friday, October 25, 2013
Harry Lipper, Senior Development Outreach and Communication Specialist

Belgrade, October 2013 – The U.S. Agency for International Development has awarded the Trag Foundation an 18-month, $235,000 grant to improve the policy framework for delivering crucial social services for the elderly, persons with disabilities and children, as well as other vulnerable groups. 

The Social Care Reform Initiative, implemented by the Trag Foundation, will help civil society organizations (CSOs) advocate for improved social care policies and work with local governments to provide services under Serbia's 2011 Law on Social Care.  The law, created in line with European Union (EU) regulations, decentralizes Serbia's social care system to local authorities.  Civil society organizations play an important role in delivering social services, and can often do so faster, more effectively, and cheaper than local governments.

The Trag Foundation will conduct a study that will determine ways to increase the capacity of grassroots organizations to work with local governments so they can best develop new policies that serve the needy. 

"The Trag Foundation will work with CSOs and local governments to enable the provision of better social care services for needy citizens," said USAID/Serbia Mission Director Susan K. Fritz.  "By promoting the role of grassroots organizations in social service reforms, we are helping marginalized people and supporting Serbia’s development of social services and inclusion that meet EU standards."

The Social Care Reform Initiative will provide funds to support the advocacy efforts of 10 CSOs that will work with local authorities to enact the new law's reforms and improve social services through open and transparent contracting and the development of a decentralized social care system.

"We are supporting initiatives that will bring positive changes to local communities and supporting civil society organizations that will improve social services for their communities for the long term," said Trag Foundation Executive Director Mia Vukojevic.

The Social Care Reform Initiative will also include three training modules to educate grassroots organizations about social care reform, advocacy for social care issues, and the monitoring of social care policies.

USAID is increasing direct support to local Serbian organizations like the Trag Foundation as part of a broader effort to change the way USAID delivers assistance.  Direct assistance to organizations strengthens their capacity and uses USAID funds more efficiently.