“All children and their families have right to support, regardless of who they are or where they live!“
Centers for children and families will improve access to services
Zagreb, February 20th, 2023 – Children and families living in poverty often have very low access to basic services, such as health care, preschool education and family support. To break the cycle of social exclusion, it is necessary to bring services closer to communities and adapt them to meet their specific needs. UNICEF, in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the local Government and communities in Međimurje County, and with the funding of the European Commission is establishing Centres for Children and Families to improve access to services where the most vulnerable children and their families live.
The Centres for children and families are the result of the EU Child Guarantee, III Testing Phase and they are being established in the municipalities of Mala Subotica, Nedelišće, Podturen, Orehovica and Pribislavec. They will open their doors in February and March to provide services for children, adolescents and their families such as integrated early intervention services, various workshops for parents and children, psychosocial support, as well as informal opportunities for learning through play.
„When we started implementing this program two years ago, we were confident that we would achieve results, but we did not expect so many positive changes. Now we have five Centers for children and families, four Play Hubs with toy libraries, many partners involved in the workshops for parents, experts’ trainings and numerous services in the community. The Centers for children and families are an example of the successful cooperation between national, regional, and local governments which is always indispensable to ensure equal opportunities and give every child a good start in life. All children should have access to quality services regardless of who they are or where they live", said Regina M. Castillo, Representative of the UNICEF Office for Croatia.
Through the EU Child Guarantee, the UNICEF Office for Croatia secured 85 percent of the costs of building and equipping the Centers for children and families, while the municipalities secured 15 percent. The Centers are already being used to provide services to children and families, and after the completion of the pilot-program, they will be handed over to the municipalities and will be used as places for further expansion of the network of social services.
Based on the joint initiative by the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy in cooperation with Međimurje County and municipalities, a new provider of social services - the Center for the provision of social services in the community is being established.
Activities within the third phase of the pilot program are carried out by UNICEF to provide access to comprehensive child and family protection services, including empowering parents and caregivers and helping them develop the necessary skills, increase the number of children involved in early and preschool education, provide better access to early intervention services for children with disabilities and their families.
In addition, Sobočan design studio from Mursko Središće supported the initiative by donating furniture and accompanying equipment to Centers for children and families which will enable the work of experts with children and their families.
“Phase III: Testing the Child Guarantee” is funded by the European Union and is implemented in seven European Union countries to ensure access to basic services such as health care, education, quality nutrition, quality housing and care services for children growing up in the most difficult circumstances. The Republic of Croatia was given the opportunity to model the EU Child Guarantee in cooperation with the European Commission and UNICEF in order to work on tackling child poverty and social exclusion, so this pilot-program is aimed primarily at children with disabilities, children living in a precarious family environment and children of national minorities. It is implemented in seven municipalities of Međimurje County, and through cooperation and knowledge of implementing partners interventions take place in three areas: integrated child protection services and family support, early intervention services and access to quality preschool education.
UNICEF promiče prava i dobrobit djece u svemu što radimo. U suradnji s partnerima, radimo u nekima od najizazovnijih dijelova svijeta kako bismo pomogli najugroženijoj djeci na svijetu. U više od 190 država i teritorija radimo za svako dijete, s posebnim fokusom na najranjiviju djecu.