Children with disabilities

Children with disabilities are at greater risk to be excluded and to have poor healthcare, education and social welfare services.

Children With Disabilities
UNICEF/Panjeta

Challenge

Some estimates indicate that 6.5 percent of children from two to nine years of age in Bosnia and Herzegovina have some form of disability. They are one of the most marginalized and excluded groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina society. The quality of services in Bosnia and Herzegovina is generally not adequate for the needs of children with disabilities, especially in health and education.

One of the major barriers in Bosnia and Herzegovina affecting the ability of children with disabilities to demand services is social stigma and discrimination. They face discriminatory legislation, a lack of training for and inadequate understanding by teachers, prejudice, and a lack of services and support. They are at risk of suffering violence, abuse and neglect. Many children with disabilities are placed in residential institutions, which further negatively impacts their full, effective and equal participation in society.

Solution

Over the past few years, UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina has contributed significantly to the social inclusion of children with disabilities as part of its overall focus on disadvantaged and vulnerable children in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

To help reduce social stigma, UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina has engaged in a series of public awareness-raising campaigns since 2013, with support from the EU and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Using the slogan “It’s about ability!”, the campaigns featured positive images of children with disabilities engaged in daily activities with their families, friends and communities. In many of its public communication events, such as conferences and workshops, UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina has included children with disabilities as moderators and speakers.

In order to improve the quality of education for children with disabilities, UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ministries of Education promoted pedagogical approaches for teachers to apply child-centred inclusive education teaching and learning approaches for all children, including children with disabilities.

UNICEF worked with the non-governmental organization EDUS to develop and disseminate early detection and intervention guidelines, tools and standards to 32 healthcare centres, kindergartens and social services centres in the country. They also provided training on using these materials to 100 professionals working with children from all sectors.

As a result of UNICEF-supported interventions between 2015-17:

  • 2,000 children with disabilities and their families gained better access to social services, such as day care, counselling and referrals.
  • 3,000 children with disabilities were reached with early detection and intervention services as part of early childhood development (ECD) services.
  • 675 children with disabilities benefited from inclusive education approaches.
  • 150 children with disabilities benefited from improved care and protection services.

To create a more enabling policy environment for children with disabilities, UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina helped develop and advocate successfully for rights-based strategies on persons with disabilities.

To increase access to services for children with disabilities at the municipal level, UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina enabled the establishment of multisectoral working groups tasked with developing budgeted local action plans to reach the most vulnerable children with quality services in each municipality. As of 2017, there were 12 such working groups, and 10 had identified and put in place specific services (e.g., family counselling, day care, referrals, transportation) to benefit children with disabilities and their families.

Resources

Prejudice, insults...Why? - Ivona Vidaković (Bratunac)

I Can - Haris Mešan (Kupres)

From Home to School - Milica i Marija Beribaka (Vojkovići)

Where Others See a Problem We See Our Children

Stories