UNICEF - Social Inclusion of Roma Children and Children with Disabilities in the Western Balkans and Moldova
The project 'Social Inclusion of Roma Children and Children with Disabilities in the Western Balkans and Moldova' aims to advance, in six countries of the Western Balkans and Moldova, social inclusion and the equitable distribution of opportunities for the most vulnerable and marginalized children, such as children from ethnic minorities and children with developmental difficulties, including delays and disabilities.
The project objective will be achieved by: a) addressing the bio-psycho-social risks in the environments of the most vulnerable and marginalized children, b) improving their access to health and social services, to child development monitoring and to services of early identification of developmental risks, delays and disabilities, c) providing early intervention for children with developmental delays and disabilities and d) creating access to early learning and education opportunities.
Government and non-government institutions, service providers and communities will be strengthened to deliver evidence-based interventions, develop inter-sectoral coordination and collaboration mechanisms, primarily between health, education and social and child protection services, and ensure sustainability through capacity development and adequate policy and budget formulation.
The project will reach more than 58.000 persons:
- 31,500 mothers and 12,700 fathers (or other caregivers) of young children with knowledge and skills to provide nurturing care to their children and enable them to access quality services
- 7,550 children (3,830 girls and 3,720 boys) and 5,450 families with early identification and early intervention for developmental delays and disabilities.
- 4,000 children (2,010 girls and 1,990 boys) from ethnic minority groups to gain access to culturally sensitive and quality health and social services.
- 1,150 children (575 girls and 575 boys) with developmental difficulties and from ethnic minority groups with integrated community services which support early child development.
- 1,530 children (768 girls and 762 boys) with developmental difficulties and from ethnic minority groups with access to quality and inclusive pre-primary education (PPE).
Principal partners will include Ministries of Health, Education, Social Welfare, Labour and Social Protection, public health and pedagogical institutes, and non-government organizations.
The main activities of the project will include technical assistance and capacity building of national and local public authorities, quality improvement of services and establishment of new service modalities, training of health, education and social service providers, support to families through parenting advice and guidance, community awareness raising, data gathering and strengthening to monitor disparity reduction and social inclusion. Project progress will be assessed through periodic monitoring activities and reports and project impact will be assessed through a summative evaluation conducted at the end of the 3-year project period. The UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Regional Office, together with the seven respective UNICEF country offices, will be responsible for the oversight progress and results achieved.
The countries/territories covered by the project have EU accession aspirations and are investing efforts to harmonize policies and legislation to meet European standards and realize higher levels of social development and social cohesion. However, despite important advances, a sizeable number of boys and girls in the Western Balkans and Moldova are socially excluded and face risks and deprivations, which limit their ability to reach their full potential. Boys and girls from ethnic minority groups such as the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian, as well as boys and girls with developmental challenges and disabilities suffer disproportionately from poverty, poor access to services and social benefits, exclusion and discrimination; they more often suffer from violence, separation from their families and placement in residential care institutions or special schools. Social and gender norms negatively impact the social inclusion of vulnerable children, and additionally hamper and limit Roma girls’ participation in education on account of a number of reasons, including early marriage.
This project builds on the recent evidence regarding the links between investments in early life and sustainable growth, which demonstrates that investments from the very start of life are not only necessary but the most cost-effective means for the realization of human rights and to address inequality, deprivation and economic stagnation. It directly contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 3 (good health and well-being), 4 (quality education), 10 (reduced inequalities) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) as well as to the objectives of the EU Gender Action Plan.