Early Childhood Development
Good Health + Adequate Nutrition
Based on the findings of a survey on knowledge, attitude and practices conducted in June 2009 among 1,000 of Montenegro’s parents of children under six, 82 per cent of children were taken care of by the mother; 37 per cent of breastfeeding mothers said no one helped them with nutrition and breastfeeding, cleaning and bathing the child; and only seven per cent of fathers taught a child his/her first moral principles, but more often watched TV with and went for walks with their children. UNICEF Montenegro and the Ministry of Health therefore started an awareness campaign The Early Years – The Opportunity of a Lifetime. The key messages included: being a father is the opportunity of a lifetime; children always have time to play; and children learn how to behave by imitating the behaviour of those closest to them.
The NGO “Parents”, UNICEF and the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro launched the National SOS Parent Line in early 2017, making it possible for all parents and caregivers throughout the country to get advice on successful child upbringing. Each working day from 16:00 to 20:00, parents can call 080 888 888 and consult experts regarding their children’s upbringing. Montenegrin mobile operators have made all the calls to the SOS line free of charge.
Keeping Families Together
Through cooperation between the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNICEF, the services of family outreach workers – who have been tasked with providing intensive support to families and with preventing family breakdown and the placement of children in institutional care – have been enabled to continue. Talks have commenced on establishing an integrated government body on early childhood development, as well as on reforming the current patronage nurse service to include home visits, which would include child protection and positive parenting/nurturing care-giving components.
Early childhood education and care
There is an increase in enrollment rates of children aged 3-6 in preschool institutions, from 58,66% in school year 2015/2016 to 69,99% in school year 2017/2018. When it comes to children with disabilities, exclusion remains the biggest problem. They play on their own and they live in their own worlds. Some parents spend years looking for adequate support and, due to their late inclusion in support programmes, their children miss the opportunity to realize their full potential. For this reason, UNICEF has helped implement a training programme so that preschool professionals, paediatricians, psychologists, speech therapists and defectologists from 13 municipalities can detect disabilities in early childhood and provide adequate support for those children. The coalition has also established support programmes for parents of young children with disabilities so that they know how to help them and receive support.