FACT SHEET: Service Center for Disabled Children and Their Families (PROJECT CLOSED)

Project Snapshot
Total Funding:  $50,000 
Project Duration:  May 2014 – May 2015
Implementing Partner:  Dajte Nam Sansu (Give Us a Chance) Association 

The Challenge
As a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is obliged to improve the quality of life of children and other persons with disabilities. But the state does little to fulfill its duty and responsibility to this group of citizens. As a result there is a lack of institutional support services for families of children with physical or developmental disabilities. Having to care for a child or other person with a disability precludes their ability to have a job outside the home, go to school, or have any kind of social or personal life. These caretakers – usually the mothers – become psychologically and physically exhausted, with no end or even temporary relief in sight.

Our Program
The Service Center for Children with Disabilities will provide parents and guardians with a safe, rehabilitative place that can accommodate a short stay of their children and youth with disabilities, in addition to psychological, informational and legal support services. The center will free family members to realize their own basic rights – the right to work and live lives of their own – while providing these children with an environment that will improve their psycho-social development. By establishing this center and offering such support, we will contribute to building stronger families, economically stronger women (the mothers) and social inclusion of persons with disabilities. USAID partnered with the Novi Grad municipal government, which contributed $15,000 to refurbish the center premises.

Implementation and Expected Results
The service center provides parents and caretakers with informational and psychological support, and much-needed breaks. The center is a point of reference for parents to learn about their statutory rights, including information about where to go to apply for assistance, main point of contact, and the documents required, making all this information available at a single location. 

The center also provides parents/guardians a respite from caretaking responsibilities and social and learning time for the children outside the home. Families can make arrangements in advance for a stay of up to four hours per day, under the care of trained special education teachers, trained volunteers and a nurse. On the first visit, workers record the service and medical history of the child, which is always on file and available to service center staff and volunteers for future visits. The center can accommodate short stays for 600 disabled children per month.

The entire community benefits from this center. Service center volunteers learn firsthand about the difficulties faced by people with disabilities and their families, and how the community can help them have a better life.

For more information, contact:  Ela Challenger, USAID/BiH Deputy Director Program Office, echallenger@usaid.gov.