The Developmental Counselling Unit in Subotica received a vehicle for home visits to children with developmental difficulties and disabilities

Vojput donated 4 million dinars and provided full equipment to the Developmental Counselling Unit

08 February 2023
Rane intervencije vozilo
UNICEF Srbija/2023

Subotica, 8 February 2023 – The Developmental Counselling Unit in Subotica received today a vehicle for home visits to families of children with developmental difficulties and disabilities up to 6 years of age living in the Subotica region. Owing to the donation of the Vojput company in the amount of 4 million dinars, this Developmental Counselling Unit has already received a digital library and furniture, and, with the vehicle delivered today, the Developmental Counselling Unit is equipped to provide cutting-edge services for children showing signs of developmental delays.

“The Counselling Unit in Subotica was established back in 1961 as a Psychopaedagogical Counselling Unit, and it was named the Developmental Counselling Unit in 1991. Every year, it provides support to about 1,500 children up to 6 years of age and their families, bilingually, in Serbian and in Hungarian. We work continuously to improve our work and, since September 2021, we have been part of the innovative intensive Family-Oriented Early Intervention programme. We intend to gradually include as many children as possible in the innovative programme as the Family-Oriented Early Intervention Team progresses. We are immensely grateful to UNICEF and to the Vojput company for their support and the donation of a vehicle that will enable a professional step forward for experts and work in the family and kindergarten environment, where the child learns, plays and lives, thus significantly improving the quality and accessibility of support for all children and their families“, said Erzebet Kiskarolj, Team Coordinator for Family-Oriented Early Intervention in Subotica.

According to experts’ estimates, in Serbia, about 60,000 children up to 6 years of age need early intervention services, and it has been proven that, if detected on time, developmental difficulties can be overcome before the child starts school in as many as 70% of children. Last year, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and other partners, UNICEF launched the Dad, Mom, We Are with You! campaign to equip teams for family-oriented early interventions in developmental counselling units across Serbia, from Subotica to Vranje, with assistive technology, computers and digital equipment for remote work, didactic materials, furniture tailored to the needs of children and parents and home visitation vehicles.

“By introducing family-oriented early interventions in the work of our developmental counselling units, we ensure that cutting-edge approaches to working with children, based on neuroscientific evidence, are available to families in Subotica and in towns and municipalities across Serbia. The goal is for every child to have access to support during childhood when development occurs most rapidly in order for children to reach their full potential, which is indeed always the greatest wish of every parent. That is why early intervention brings together systems and experts from the sectors of health care, education and social protection and, recognising parents’ strengths and needs, provides necessary and intensive support to children and their families. In order to achieve the goal, well-equipped, modern and sustainable services and competent professionals are needed. We would like to thank the Ministry of Health for their commitment to achieving this goal and our reliable partner Vojput for helping us to equip the Developmental Counselling Unit in Subotica and enable the full implementation of modern approaches in the daily practice of counselling units“, said Jelena Zajeganovic-Jakovljevic, Health and Early Childhood Development Specialist in UNICEF Serbia.

UNICEF and the Ministry of Health have worked together systematically since 2010 on promoting early childhood development. The goal is to establish an intersectoral approach to providing family support in line with cutting-edge scientific practices that place children with developmental difficulties and disabilities and their parents in centre of attention of experts.

“Investing in the earliest years of a child’s life is proven to be the most worthwhile investment for the health and future of society and that is why, back in 2016, we adopted the National Programme for the Promotion of Early Childhood Development. This programme provides for at least one developmental counselling unit in every district providing support to families of children with developmental difficulties and disabilities up to 6 years of age, both in the area where the unit is located and via mobile teams in smaller surrounding localities. In previous years, in cooperation with UNICEF, we succeeded in improving the capacity of primary health care centres and developmental counselling units in 15 out of 25 districts in Serbia. We will continue to work together to expand this network of counselling units, to secure legislative as well as financial support to ensure their sustainability and quality in order for the services to be available to every child and family in need of support. I would like to congratulate Subotica on the successful long-standing work of its developmental counselling unit, which will now be even more complete with the addition of the vehicle for field work. I hope that this standard will soon be rolled out across Serbia and increase service accessibility, especially for children who live outside major cities. I would like to thank the donor for helping to procure the vehicle. I would especially like to thank UNICEF for its great commitment to uniting numerous partners around the same goal“, said State Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Prof. Ferenc Vicko, PhD.

The donation to the Developmental Counselling Unit in Subotica, where the Vojput company is based, is an example of how the private sector can support the development of the local community in which it operates.

“Vojput has supported the local community for years and we believe that the principle of giving back to the community in which we operate is one of the most important business principles. Because the even development of the community as a whole can create a long-term perspective for a society in which every child has the same opportunities and every person enjoys equal rights. In the times of crises and major challenges in which we are living, the economy should accommodate the most vulnerable members of society and I confirm our continued commitment to be there for and to support children and UNICEF, which identifies where there are needs that must urgently be met“, said Goran Jankovic, Director of the Vojput company.

UNICEF and the Ministry of Health, together with the ministries in charge of education, social protection, family welfare and demography, have so far supported the implementation of family-oriented early interventions in 19 towns and municipalities in Serbia (15 districts in total) out of the planned 36. More than 500 professionals from the health care and social protection systems and preschool institutions have been trained, 120 of whom are engaged in direct work with families. More than 2400 children and their families received support during 2022, of which more than 200 are engaged in intensive family-oriented early intervention services. All these centres received part of the digital equipment and didactic materials, and 3 developmental counselling units, including the one in Subotica, also received furniture.

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