New services for children with disabilities launched in Georgia
New day centers are essential for children with disabilities to remain in safe, supported family care
11 October, 2011. Tbilisi. A new early intervention centre and a new day care centre, both for children with disabilities and their families, are being opened today in Tbilisi. The centres are managed by the NGO “First Step-Georgia” and are part of the Government led reform of the child care system supported by UNICEF and USAID.
The centres are inaugurated by the Founder of First Step Georgia, Nino Zhvania, the Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs Mr Andrew Urushadze, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Georgia Ms Bridget Brink, Head of the Social Service Agency Mr Irakli Nadareishvili, and UNICEF Representative in Georgia Mr Roeland Monasch. The representatives of USAID, different governmental or non-governmental organizations will also be present at the ceremony.
“Early intervention and day centres are important new services for children with disabilities and their families,” said, Nino Zhvania, Founder of the First Step of Georgia. “Our goal is to ensure all children with disabilities are in families and families are capable of providing necessary care and support for their children with special needs. The centres will also support families and children to feel better integrated in their societies”, added Zhvania.
The early intervention centre will provide services for up to 100 children of age 0-6. It will provide psycho-social, medical and educational support for children and their families. Through the centre parents can have consultations with different specialists like psychologists, social workers, pediatricians, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. The centre aims at preventing infant and early childhood abandonment, identifying developmental delays early, and providing quality services.
The new day centre will cater for 35 children and adolescents with disabilities aged 3-18. Special programme for children with autism and spectrum disorders will also work in the day care centre.
“Children with disabilities have the same rights as all children. They must be an integral part of society free from discrimination,” said Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “Providing services for families caring for children with disabilities, working towards an inclusive education system that embraces children with special needs, improving early diagnosis and treatment, and transforming attitudes and behaviours that contribute to stigmatization of children with disabilities should be at the core of the response. UNICEF will continue to work with the Government and other partners to ensure that no child with disabilities is left behind”, Monasch added.
The rehabilitation of the buildings of both centres as well as introduction of early intervention programmes have been possible within the framework of the ongoing project “Strengthening Child Care Services and Systems”. The programme is a partnership initiative led by the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs and the Social Service Agency, implemented by UNICEF and NGOs EveryChild, Save the Children, First Step and Children of Georgia and supported by USAID.
Children with disabilities are frequently placed in institutional care because families do not have appropriate support to care for them. Day centres are critical for ensuring children remain in safe, supported family care. As of today 25 Day Centre for children with disabilities function in Georgia.