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Rights and needs of parents of children with disabilities

BERANE, 25 May 2017 – Parents of children with disabilities are unsung heroes, facing endless hurdles every single day. Psychological support means a lot to them just like to other parents as well.

Children with and without disabilities in a mainstream school in Montenegro - UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2017

“I think that people are closed up. Sometimes they are more comfortable with a false hope than the cruel truth. I believe that people need to face the truth regardless of how it may look to them in order to be able to help the child’, points out Sava Laban, mother of a 14 year old child growing up with cerebral palsy.

Representative of the Centre for Social Work Marija Stanisic invites all the parents to seek counselling more frequently in the centre for social work. “It is important for them to know that there is no shame in approaching an expert. If they have a problem, they can ask for advice from the experts working in the centres for social work”, Stanisic reminds.

Associations of parents of children with disabilities have been actively advocating for the development of inclusive local communities throughout Montenegro for years. One of the key services within those communities is the day-care centre.

Coordinator of the national Union of Associations of Parents of Children with Disabilities “Our Initiative” Natasa Anastasov explains: “Parents are asking for day-care centres to be opened in their local communities. We have an example of the day-care centre in Mojkovac, which is working perfectly, but parents from Kolasin don’t want their children to travel all the way to Mojkovac. Instead, they are asking for a day-care centre to be opened in their local community. Budva and Bar also need day-care centres”.

When it comes to education of children with disabilities, parents point out to the lack of teaching assistants and the lack of opportunities for diverse vocational trainings.

“There are few children with disabilities in high schools. Parents complain about the lack of practical courses which their children can attend”, Anastasov explains.

Parents also complain about the complicated procedures for acquiring child and social protection benefits.

Family with a child with disabilities taking a photo to promote rights of children with disabilities within the It’s about ability campaign - UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2017

Tihomir Joksimovic, father of a child with disabilities, says that he had to wait several years to have the relevant institutions approve him financial aid.

“In the end, the whole matter was resolved by the court. Many other parents are facing the same problems”, explains Joksimovic. Executive Director of the NGO “Our Initiative” Milisav Korac reminds that, with UNICEF’s support, this NGO provides free legal aid to parents facing similar problems.

‘It seems to us that commissions of the centres for social work do not follow the set criteria well. Some 100 parents have requested help regarding these issues since December last year”, explains Korac adding that parents can ask for help by phone or e-mail every working day from 9am to 1pm.

These and other issues regarding the rights and needs of parents of children with disabilities were discussed at workshops organized for them in nine Montenegrin municipalities by the NGO ‘Our Initiative’ with support from Marimo Berk and David Drummond Fund, UNICEF and EU.

The aim of these workshops is to have an open talk and consultations with experts to support the parents to realize their rights in the areas of social protection and healthcare, education and vocational training of children and young people with disabilities.

These workshops are organized within a multiyear, regional initiative aimed at improving lives of children with disabilities. It is implemented through the collaboration of UNICEF, European Disability Forum, EU and the Governments of seven countries which are in the EU accession process among which is Montenegro.



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