High-level delegation of European Commission visits Međimurje County
By implementing Phase III of the EU Child Guarantee pilot programme, UNICEF and partners are improving the lives of children and families in Međimurje County
Čakovec, February 28, 2023 – During a visit to Međimurje County, representatives from the high-level delegation of the European Commission witnessed firsthand the successful implementation of the pilot programme "Phase III: Testing the Child Guarantee in Croatia", funded by the European Union. Activities are carried out by UNICEF and 12 implementing partners, in cooperation with the Government of Croatia together with the local government and communities in Međimurje County. The aim is to provide access to comprehensive child and family protection services, including empowering parents and caregivers by helping them develop the necessary skills, thereby increasing the number of children involved in early and preschool education, and providing better access to early intervention services for children with disabilities and their families.
Mr. Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, and Ms. Dubravka Šuica, Vice President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography, together with Mr. Ognian Zlatev, Head of Representation of European Commission in Croatia, Mr. Marin Piletić, Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy, Ms. Regina Castillo, Representative of the UNICEF Office for Croatia, Mr. Matija Posavec, Governor of Međimurje County, Mr. Nikola Novak, Nedelišće Municipality Mayor, and Mr. Matjaš Oršuš, President of the Roma Council of Međimurje County, visited the Centre for Children and Families in Parag, in Nedelišće municipality. The delegation met with experts, children and parents, and beneficiaries of the parenting support programme Growing Up Together, Count Us In Plus.
The Centres for Children and Families are being established in the municipalities of Mala Subotica, Nedelišće, Podturen, Orehovica and Pribislavec 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.
Good practices of the EU Child Guarantee in Croatia were shared by representatives of UNICEF’s implementing partners and Ms. Tatjana Katkić Stanić from the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy and National Coordinator for the EU Child Guarantee, who stressed the importance of bringing services closer to communities and adapting them to meet their specific needs. The Centres for Children and Families are an example of successful cooperation among national, regional, and local governments, essential to ensure equal opportunities and give every child a good start in life, no matter their origins or where they live.
“In the EU we are working every day to create a society in which children are happy and healthy, where poor or vulnerable children are given the same opportunities as those more fortunate. The European Child Guarantee gives disadvantaged children access to the things they need to grow and do well in life, like health care, crèches, kindergartens and schools, as well as school trips, after-school activities, and a healthy meal each school day. It is an honour to visit a UNICEF pilot Child Guarantee project in Međimurje which has been focusing its work on child protection, early childhood care, and access to quality pre-primary education”, said Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights.
“I am humbled to see how the European Child guarantee is making a difference in Croatia and around the EU. In the project we visited today, financed by the EU and implemented with UNICEF, we are supporting children most in need. We are ensuring that all children benefit from child protection and family support services and have access to quality pre-primary education. Through this project we particularly care for children at risk of developmental delays or disabilities, and also their families. The work done here can be a model and inspiration for many in the EU and I am grateful for all who have invested their efforts in making this a reality”, said Dubravka Šuica, Vice President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography.
“We at UNICEF are committed to supporting the European Commission in fulfilling its promise to break the cycle of poverty and social exclusion with the EU Child Guarantee. When we started implementing the EU Child Guarantee Pilot Programme two years ago, we were confident that we would achieve results, but we did not expect so many positive changes. Now, we have five Centres for Children and Families, four Play Hubs with Toy Libraries, and many partners involved in providing services in the community. It is an honour to have this joint visit and to admire the results and commitment of the community, implementing partners, Roma Association, authorities of Međimurje County, and the Government, all of whom are working together to improve the lives of children and their families. We are proud of and grateful for our strong partnership", said Regina M. Castillo, Representative of the UNICEF Office for Croatia.
Download the infographic with detailed results achieved by November 2022 HERE. Read more about the Phase III of the EU Child Guarantee HERE. Get to know children, families, and experts of the EU Child Guarantee through their video stories HERE.
"Phase III: Testing the Child Guarantee" is funded by the European Union and is implemented in seven European Union countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Germany, Spain, Italy and Lithuania) 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. 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. thus, this pilot programme 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 the cooperation and knowledge of key implementing partners, interventions take place across 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.