Our European Commission funded project in Ukraine has come to a very successful close. Launched in 2016, it focused on enabling parent-led civil society organisations to support the delivery of reforms that address the rights and needs of young children with disabilities.
A key feature of this work was strengthening the capacity of such organisations to better advocate on behalf of these children and to more effectively engage in policy dialogue in Ukraine. Working across ten regions of the country, the project supported the creation of the All-Ukrainian Parents Forum for Early Intervention (AUPFEI), a platform for mobilising parent advocates and civil society organisations.
In a final project update, we hear from Olga Lozhechka, a Luhansk parent representative from the AUPFEI, who speaks about the impact of our work.
At the beginning of this year the Severodonetsk city authorities took the decision to fund, from the city budget, a team of five full-time Early Intervention professionals [who had previously been operating part-time on a voluntary basis] to provide an Early Intervention Service here in Luhansk region.
As a mother of a child with a disability, the Luhansk regional representative of the All-Ukrainian Parents’ Forum for Early Intervention, and a trained special needs teacher, who therefore deeply understands the importance of this service in providing comprehensive assistance to children aged 0-3 and their families, I am very grateful to all who contributed to achieving this moment for our city and Ukraine as a whole.
This has come about thanks to UNICEF and the National Assembly of People with Disabilities, with the support of the Government of Ukraine, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, and through the participation of the international NGO HealthProm and the Early Intervention Institute in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Special thanks must go to the Luhansk Regional State Administration - and in particular the Department of Social Protection of the Population in Luhansk Region in my hometown of Severodonetsk for understanding the importance of the Early Intervention Service and for providing the funding that will enable a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to provide a high-quality support to all families with children aged 0-3 who have, or are at risk of developing, special educational needs or disabilities.
Thanks to all the organisations for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities who have supported the emergence of Early Intervention for children aged 0-3 and their families in Ukraine.
Last but not least, huge thanks must go to all the parents of Ukraine who have children with disabilities who are no longer at an age where they are eligible for Early Intervention - but, who, understanding its importance - have done everything they can to support the emergence and development of Early Intervention Services in Ukraine and our region.
We wish to thank the European Commission, UNICEF, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for their support throughout the project.