Point of access to early childhood intervention
Pilot-programme EU Child Guarantee emphasizes the importance of access to early childhood intervention services
Point of access to early childhood intervention, a referent place intended for parents and guardians of children aged 0 to 7 conducted by early childhood intervention experts is being successfully tested in Medjimurje County. Activities within the Point of access top early childhood intervention are carried out for families at risk of poverty and social exclusion, namely for the most vulnerable children, children from Roma communities and children with disabilities. It is a part of the pilot-programme Phase III “Testing the Child Guarantee in Croatia”, which UNICEF Office for Croatia is carrying out together with implementing partners and is funded by the European Union.
From July 2021 until present day, 137 children were included in Point of access to early childhood intervention, while there is a plan to include another 73. The early childhood intervention program implemented by UNICEF's implementing partner Medimurje Association for Early Childhood Intervention – MURID, continuously includes 67 children. Children who underwent activities within the Point of access are included in individual or group work programs in the system of early childhood intervention twice a month.
Point of access is a reference point where parents concerned about their child's development can seek answers to questions, learn the necessary information about available community resources and opportunities to gain support and exercise rights. Here, parents and guardians can be informed about the principles of work, programs, services, and implementation of early childhood intervention, and also get acquainted with the next steps in the process (e.g. comprehensive assessment, diagnostics, early childhood intervention programs). If necessary, for the purpose of future integrated work, other community service providers in Medimurje County may be included in the Point of access.
Experts from Medecins du Monde, another UNICEF's implementing partner, have also worked with MURID on identifying and informing families, bringing together a mobile team of early intervention experts, psychologists, gynecologists, pediatricians and Roma cultural mediators to cover more families.
“I am very glad that social worker and psychologist came to our home. It was very pleasant and nice to talk to them. We talked about my life and everything that worries me about Lucas. He will soon turn three, and he is not talking or walking yet. For me, it is much easier when we get a home visit. This way we don't have to go anywhere, and since we don't have driver's license, we wouldn’t even be able to.”
The program enables that every family which shows a need to meet with experts and needs access to key early childhood intervention services manages to receive it. It is extremely important that professional support offers comprehending and willingness to understand the situation in which each family finds itself.
This is the first step in the model of early childhood intervention services implemented by UNICEF's implementing partner Medimurje Association for Early Childhood Intervention – MURID within the activities of the pilot-programme Phase III: “Testing the Child Guarantee in Croatia”. The development of a comprehensive and accessible model of early childhood intervention services is one of the three key areas of activity within the pilot-programme funded by the European Union and implemented by the UNICEF Office for Croatia in cooperation with 11 implementing partners in Medimurje County.
With the main aim of reducing child poverty and social exclusion for all children across the European Union, the European Commission, in partnership with UNICEF, is implementing a pilot-program "Phase III: Testing the Child Guarantee" in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Germany, Italy, Lithuania and Spain.
Croatia was given the opportunity to pilot programme Testing of the EU Child Guarantee, in cooperation with the European Commission and UNICEF, to work on solving child poverty and social exclusion. To develop new service models and best practices for children and their families, UNICEF will use its experience, partnerships and capacities by modeling integrated multidisciplinary, adequately funded family and community services in Medjimurje County, a region with limited access to child protection and family support services. UNICEF's approach includes three components: access to integrated child protection and family support services, access to early childhood education and access to integrated and coordinated early childhood intervention services.
© UNICEF, 2021 “The information and views set out in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.”
MURID is implementing partner of the UNICEF Office in Croatia for the implementation of the pilot programme “Phase III: Testing the Child Guarantee in Croatia”, funded by the European Union.