Testimony of the Family-Friendly Network of Municipalities in Poland

On the occasion of the Convention of Family Municipalities, the contribution on the topic of the Polish “family” network

The speech by Irena Jesmanowicz, president of the Association of Large Families of Poland, who presented the project “Common friends of the family”, can be viewed in English at the bottom of the page in its entirety.

slide 1 – cover; slide 2: Welcome everyone! My name is Irena Jesmanowicz, I come from Poland and I am a member of the Association of large families “Three Plus”. Today I will briefly introduce you to our certification program for local authorities. To begin with, I would like to underline that we have built our relationship with local authorities since the beginning of our association, which is now over 14 years old. We have established the Large Families Self-Government Forum and regularly, twice a year, we organize meetings for its members. I speak of this to show that we are already a well known, recognizable and well branded partner for local governments. This helps us build a certification program for family-friendly local governments. So, let’s take a closer look at our certification program.

slide 3 – DEVELOPMENT PHASES: First, we studied the certification solutions of family-friendly cities in other countries. We visited Italy, made contact with Norway, France and Austria. Each example was important and inspired us, but we realized that we had to create our own program, specific to our realities. So, we started a pilot program and invited three local governments to participate: a big city, a small town and a village. Together with them we developed the methodology and scoring for the certification program.

slide 4 – IN THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS: We currently have eight municipalities in the certification program. These are already advanced programs, and we plan to award certificates to these cities in May 2022.

slide 5 – AN IMPORTANT PERSPECTIVE. THE MUNICIPALITY AS A GOVERNANCE OF STATE POLICY: An important aspect for greater understanding is that in Poland local governments not only carry out their own family policy activities, but are also executors of government-commissioned activities. The graph in orange shows the percentage share of central tasks out of total assets for local government households. As we can see, it accounts for about half of all assets. In some local governments, the blue area of ​​own activities is very small or even non-existent (but this, of course, does not apply to the local governments we certify).

slide 6 – CURRENT PHASES OF CERTIFICATION: Based on the first results of the pilot program, we have created a certification scheme in which we can identify the following phases: 1. Time required to analyze the existing solutions in the local government. During this phase we visit the local government, interview the residents and expect the local government to answer most of our questions. 2. On the basis of the data collected we prepare a comprehensive report, in which we summarize the current state and recommend specific solutions to be implemented. 3. Administration Workshop – We offer local government training in areas where they need to improve their skills. 4. We assist the local administration during the whole implementation process, supporting and supervising it. 5. Upon meeting all requirements, the local government obtains a family-friendly local government certificate. The first award is scheduled for May of this year. Based on the agreement with ELFAC, our certificate will also be recognized at European level.

slide 7 – ANALYSIS AND REPORT: I would like to say a few more words about the first phase of certification, which concerns the analysis and preparation of a detailed report. In addition to having developed an extensive questionnaire for the local administration, which usually takes several weeks to complete, we have also developed one for the residents, where we gather their opinions and know their needs. The collected material, integrated with our observations and considerations following the inspections carried out, is the basis for creating a complete report, in which we describe the current state of the work and our recommendations. We also include in the report the good practices that could be applied in this local administration and a detailed score of the individual areas. This report is for internal use only.

slide 8 – TRAINING AND WORKSHOPS: The thing that surprised us during the pilot certification process was that the administration was not prepared to take on the tasks we expected of them. So we organized a series of workshops in the communication area, work with families, treatment of clients, public consultation, etc. Since then, the training aspect has become an integral part of our offer to local administrations.

slide 9 – AREAS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF GOOD FAMILY POLICY PRACTICES AT LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEVEL: In the certification process, we have highlighted 6 important areas of implementation of family policies in municipalities. These are: Legal and institutional aspects (creation of bodies and institutions dedicated to the topic, a unit responsible for family policy, such as the center for family initiatives). Communication and cooperation with families (Here the points we want to clarify are: does the public consultation mechanism work? Are the families actually informed? Do they have a say in the decisions taken?). Social infrastructures (this aspect concerns the planning of coordinated actions, the level of satisfaction of needs and the presence of infrastructures, therefore of nursery schools, playgrounds, availability of public places for families with children, etc.). Availability of childcare solutions for children up to 3 years old (childcare vouchers, nursery schools, etc.). The fifth point concerns housing needs and in particular the creation of solutions for specific groups, for example large families. Security, social assistance – where not only daily issues relating to young people and families are investigated, for the prevention of deviant behavior, but also access to skills in conflict resolution through mediation, communication, training and financial education.

slide 10 – FAMILY POLICIES OF CERTIFIED LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: Considering the discussed areas that we evaluate during the certification process, we can conclude that family friendly local governments are characterized by: representativeness, Cooperation, Communication, Transparency, Creativity, Universality, Safety . In our certification, we demand these characteristics and help local governments achieve them.

slide 11 – EXTRAORDINARY SITUATION – AID TO UKRAINE: This is the beginning of our family friendly local authority certification program. At the moment, as I said, we have 8 cities with which the certification process is at an advanced stage and a few others with which the work has just begun. We have an exceptional situation in Poland right now, because the war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on ours and on all the activities of local governments. We have more than 2 million refugees in Poland, whom we have welcomed into our homes and schools. This had a big impact on our plans and activities. So, taking advantage of this meeting I would like to say that both local governments and our association are open to any cooperation in this area with all those who would like to join together to help Ukrainians – they are people who have been deprived of their homes, they have often lost their loved ones. We organize places for them to live temporarily – even outside our country. We have examples of local governments collaborating with us in this area. If there are any questions, proposals to contribute, please contact us. Thank you very much for your attention and many greetings to everyone from Poland!



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