Belgrade, 29 January 2020 - A Steering Committee was formed today to manage the Playful Parenting project with the aim of improving the development of a support system for parents in the first years of a child’s life. The project is being implemented by UNICEF and the Cabinet of the Minister for Demography and Population Policy in collaboration with the ministries of Health, Education, Social Welfare and Local-Self Government, with financial support from the LEGO Foundation.
The Government of the Republic of Serbia has clearly made early childhood development a priority when, in 2018, the line ministries, together with the Council on the Rights of the Child, signed a Call for Action to support early childhood development.
Parents and caregivers play an important role in the development of children. Supportive and responsible parenting is key to a child's overall development, and early experiences directly shape brain development in the first 3 years. Positive experiences are a solid foundation for lifelong health, as well as for building positive relationships with oneself and one’s environment. When both dad and mom engage in quality play with their children at an early age it helps children to achieve better learning outcomes in school, to develop creativity, a positive image of themselves and others, better peer relationships, greater levels of responsibility and independence, as well as a tendency for teamwork and collaboration.
Therefore, over the next 5 years, 33 municipalities in the Republic of Serbia will receive assistance to develop parenting support services through this project.
The Belgrade municipality of Palilula, as well as Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Vranje, Novi Pazar and Bor will develop support models in the first two years to strengthen responsive and supportive parenting practices, after which they will support the other 27 local communities to adopt similar approaches and models. Employees in the health, education and social welfare sectors will gain new knowledge and skills to support parents in building supportive family relationships and stimulating child development practices.
The upgraded services will encompass 60,000 families in Serbia.
The Playful Parenting project is one of the projects supported by UNICEF aimed at strengthening integrated early childhood development services. Together with partners, UNICEF will continue to prioritize early childhood development because investing in the early years of life is the right thing to do - based on children's rights, economic and neuroscience evidence, and remains a key contributor to the Government's population policy.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/serbia