Not everyone is equally affected by the pandemic
The most vulnerable children and families are the priority of a broad initiative mobilized by UNICEF
PODGORICA, 15 DECEMBER 2020 - In response to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable children and families in Montenegro, UNICEF has teamed up with the Norwegian Embassy, Group 484, the Government of Montenegro, the Red Cross of Montenegro and other civil society organizations, including associations of parents, to roll out the initiative “Protection of the most vulnerable children and families affected by COVID-19”.
While COVID-19 has changed our lives significantly, not everyone is equally affected. UNICEF has teamed up with its partners to support families and children who are most at risk of child abuse and neglect, or of missing out on education and other critical services during this crisis.
The initiative includes distribution of essential hygiene and healthcare kits for vulnerable families and day-care centres for children with disabilities, distribution of computer equipment that will support distance learning during the closure of schools, provision of support services for children and families, and ensuring expertise in developing new child protection guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.
In order to ensure adequate hygiene and healthcare, 2,000 hygiene kits, 1,500 diapers and information material for Roma and Egyptian families, day-care centres for children with disabilities, and associations of parents of children with disabilities will be delivered by UNICEF and the Red Cross.
To support distance learning for disadvantaged children, UNICEF, in cooperation with the Government of Montenegro and CSOs, will distribute 750 tablet computers to children with disabilities, children in foster families, children living in single-parent households, and social welfare institutions, and Roma and Egyptian children. Five laptops, banners and projectors were delivered to the “Mladost” Institution for Children without Parental Care in Bijela, where UNICEF has partnered with the NGO “Juventas” to provide 60 school-age children with daily support in online learning and psychosocial support to deal with stress and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a part of the initiative, 90 parents and their children from single-parent families who are exposed to increased social and child protection risks are being provided with free psychological and legal aid by the NGO “Parents” both in person and through their helpline.
Within the framework of the initiative, Guidelines for Protection of Children from Violence and Exploitation including during the Coronavirus Pandemic has been developed, and the first training on the implementation of the guidelines will be held on 15 and 16 December, which should result in improved prevention and more efficient interventions by practitioners in the health, social welfare, police and judiciary systems.
Also, the online platform for children with disabilities and their families that is run by day-care centres (http://servisipodrskezasve.net/platforma/) is in the process of being upgraded and this will be finished by 20 January 2021. UNICEF expects that a minimum of 1,000 children and young people with disabilities and their caregivers will be provided with interactive, remote support, with particular focus on the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative “Protection of the most vulnerable children and families affected by COVID-19” is being financed by Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade and Group 484.