Equal opportunities, for every child

The key findings of the Analysis of the System Response and Support for Children with Disabilities in Montenegro were presented earlier today

Tina Dimić Raičević
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2019

08 November 2019

PODGORICA, 7 NOVEMBER 2019 – The State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Vukica Jelić, and the UNICEF Representative to Montenegro, Osama Khogali, presented the Analysis of the System Response and Support to Children with Disabilities in Montenegro earlier today.

UNICEF US’s advocate and spokesperson for the inclusion of children with disabilities, Lucy Meyer, spoke at the presentation of the key findings of the Analysis. During her stay in Montenegro and her visits to inclusive kindergartens and schools, she had the opportunity to hear the voices of Montenegrin children.

UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2019
Spokesperson for the UNICEF–Special Olympics Partnership, Lucy Meyer speaking at the presenting of the Analysis of the System Response and Support to Children with Disabilities in Montenegro, in Podgorica, in November 2019

My mission is to help children with disabilities around the world. This is very important to me because, unfortunately, children with disabilities are usually not given the chance they deserve in many countries of the world.

Lucy Meyer, Spokesperson for the UNICEF–Special Olympics Partnership, Lucy Meyer,

She shared her personal experience of growing up and being included in the education system.

I had two classmates at school who had cerebral palsy themselves, just like me. I always wanted to help them whenever possible. But, whenever I tried to help them, they would not let me, because they wanted to help me. Children with disabilities around the world can have the same opportunities and experiences that my friends and I had – to go to school and be included, accepted, just like everyone else. So my message is: we can do everything, like everybody else, but sometimes we just need a little help.

The UNICEF Representative to Montenegro, Osama Khogali, said that Montenegro had done a lot in the past few years to improve the rights and situation of children and adolescents with disabilities. However, in his opinion, there is still room for improvement.

UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2019
Osama Khogali, UNICEF Representative to Montenegro speaking at the presenting of the Analysis of the System Response and Support to Children with Disabilities in Montenegro, in Podgorica, in November 2019

The Analysis calls for an improvement of data collection and analysis of children with disabilities. We need to know about the individual needs of children with disabilities to be able to support them to realize their rights.

Osama Khogali, UNICEF Representative to Montenegro

He added that the Analysis showed that better coordination among sectors was needed to provide integrated support throughout the lifecycle of every child with disabilities.

"Today, a child with disabilities in Montenegro passes through numerous professionals and commissions in order to access benefits and services. This exhausts children and families and leads to exclusion from entitlements, conflicting recommendations, or duplication of services," Khogali added.

The State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Vukica Jelić, said that the Analysis aimed to provide relevant information and data for professionals and decision-makers from different sectors on how to undertake integrated interventions and provide multi-sector system support and response to the needs that a child with a disability may have throughout his or her lifecycle.

UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2019
The State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Vukica Jelić speaking at the presenting of the Analysis of the System Response and Support to Children with Disabilities in Montenegro, in Podgorica in November, 2019

Based on this analysis, children and families are expected to enjoy direct benefits from the improved multi-sector work of the competent institutions, which will inevitably have an impact on improving the quality of services provided to children at both the family and local community levels

Vukica Jelić, State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2019
Nela Krnić, Child Protection Officer at UNICEF Montenegro, speaking at the presenting of the Analysis of the System Response and Support to Children with Disabilities in Montenegro, in Podgorica, in November 2019

The key findings of the Analysis were presented by Nela Krnić, Child Protection Officer at UNICEF Montenegro. She emphasized that she expected the members of the Council on the Rights of the Child to validate the findings of this Analysis and to ensure their translation into practice.

Consolidated statistics on children with disabilities, better cross-sector cooperation, the development of foster care for children with disabilities, improvement of the quality of inclusive education, health and social care for children with disabilities and their access to the justice system are just some of the recommendations of the Analysis of System Response and Support to Children with Disabilities in Montenegro produced by UNICEF at the request of the Council on the Rights of the Child.