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Adequate early childhood support for every child

PODGORICA, 3 December 2017 - Like every other five-year-old’s parent, Martina Curovic is considering how to best prepare her daughter for school. Three years ago, when she became acquainted with the importance of providing support to children with disabilities in early childhood, she could not assume what kind of progress her daughter Kalina will achieve, with the proper support of her teachers and experts.

Martina Curovic, a mother of five year old Kalina, talks about the importance of providing support to children with disabilities in early childhood - UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2017

"The greatest progress has been made in working with teachers. When it comes to children with disabilities, exclusion remains the biggest problem. They play on their own, they live in their own worlds. They learn from other children."

When her daughter was two years old, Martina noticed a difference in her behaviour compared to other children. The recommendation to enrol her in a programme for children with disabilities came one year later.

"Usually, doctors say that speech delay can be tolerated by the age of three, and now we know how important early intervention is. We did not have it, and a whole year was lost. A child can make great progress in a year. Therefore, it is important to detect early that the child has a problem," says the mother of this five-year-old girl.

Numerous parents in Montenegro, however, share Martina’s experience. Some of them spend years searching 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, with the support from UNICEF and Marimo Berk and David Drummond Fund, and with the support of the Ministry of Education, the Resource Centre for Education and Training "1 Jun" is implementing the training programme of preschool institutions’ professionals as well as support programmes for parents of children with disabilities for the past two years. So far, nearly 300 preschool teachers, paediatricians, psychologists, speech therapists and defectologists from 13 municipalities have been trained to detect disabilities in early childhood and provide adequate support to those children, thanks to which many children can successfully overcome some of these disabilities.

Mirjana Ivanovic, little Kalina’s preschool teacher, was one of the preschool teachers who was trained.

Five years old Kalina playing with her peers in the kindergarten - UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2017

"It is important for me to know how to help them. A lot can be learned. These are the issues that have not been much discussed. It is even possible to tell whether the two-months old baby follows a person or not. As soon as we notice something, we need to act," says Ivanovic, emphasizing the importance of providing support to children before the age of three.

The first years of life represent the most intense period of development of every human being. In order to enable all children, especially ones with disabilities, to realize all their potentials, providing adequate early childhood support is of the utmost importance.



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