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UNICEF calls for developing advanced services for children with special needs in Ukraine

Kharkiv, November 29, 2012 - Over 8 million children live in Ukraine, of whom more than 165,000 are the children with disabilities.

Ukraine ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Disabled people, which regulate the rights of the child and reflect global trends of comprehensive protection. Implementation of these Conventions regarding the issue of inclusion, health, social integration and growth in the family environment of children with special needs requires improvement of national legislation and the introduction of modern services that meet the needs of children and their families.

A two-day forum on early intervention begins today in Kharkiv. It is organized by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the Kharkiv Regional State Administration, Kharkiv City Council and the Institute for Early Intervention Charity Foundation in orderto identify mechanisms to improve the provision of social, medical and educational services to young children with special needs. Early intervention service minimizes delays and deviations in development.

"Children with special needs are one of the most vulnerable groups of children in Ukraine. Therefore it is extremely important to ensure comprehensive development of children from birth through early intervention services. This is the first step in preventing separation of children from their families and putting them in the institution,"- the deputy head of UNICEF Representative in Ukraine Rudi Luchmann noted. "UNICEF is grateful to Kharkiv regional and municipal authorities and partners for the successful implementation of this new initiative to help children with special needs. We hope that this experience will be followed in other regions of Ukraine ", - he added.

The Forum was attended by representatives of non-governmental organizations in ten cities of Ukraine, central and local executive bodies, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the National Assembly of Disabled people of Ukraine, experts and consumers of health, education, social protection, international and local experts in the field of health and social services for young children with special needs.

During the discussion, participants discussed innovative approaches for providing help to young children with disabilities and their families based on years of experience of Kharkiv city and Kharkiv region in this field. A joint agreement was reached on further development and implementation mechanisms of early intervention services. Participants identified ways to systematise early intervention services through the development of the legal framework and program implementation.

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Editor’s note: there are more than 150 million children with special needs in the world. In Ukraine there are 165 121 children with special needs (as of 2010). Out of this number, 62 498 live in institutions for children with disabilities, including 897 children (under three) in children homes.

About UNICEF: UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is the world leader in protecting the rights and interests of children. The Fund operates in over 190 countries to protect and support children from an early age through adolescence. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses. UNICEF celebrates the 15th anniversary of their presence in Ukraine this year. It opened its office in Kyiv in 1997 following the conclusion of the Basic Cooperation Agreement between the Government of Ukraine and UNICEF. Later, it was ratified by the Parliament of Ukraine providing the basis for relationship and cooperation between the Government of Ukraine and UNICEF aimed at improving the lives of children and families throughout the territory of Ukraine. More info at: Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.



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