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Children with Disabilities in Institutions

‘Invisible children’ – Children with Disabilities in Institutions

In Croatia, there are more than 1,000 children with developmental difficulties living in institutions. For many of these children are separated from their biological families this form of accommodation, which should have been temporary, has become permanent.

Why this is so and how children with disabilities live in institutions is described in UNICEF’s publication ‘The Invisible Children’, which is based on research into the quality of life for children with disabilities living in institutions in Croatia.

The research was conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth and the Ministry of Health under the leadership of experts from the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Social Work Study Centre at the Faculty of Law of the University of Zagreb.

Growing up in an institution is harmful to a child’s development. Although over the last few years significant progress has been achieved in enhancing the foster care system in Croatia an unduly large number of children continue to live in institutions.

"An institution, no matter how well run, cannot compensate for the loss of a family environment and family bond. "

UNICEF advocates for the transformation of orphanages into daily and community centres with adequate substitute family care for the children. UNICEF has focused on stimulating the development of specialised foster care for the most vulnerable groups of children, especially children with developmental difficulties and the youngest children.

By means of education, advocacy, research and awareness raising amongst experts and the general public UNICEF, together with its partners, works for the enhancement of the foster care system to ensure continuous support, monitoring and education for foster families and stimulate foster care in Roma communities.

UNICEF also works to prevent the separation of children from their biological parents through enhanced expert support for parents and the development of support models for stimulative and responsible parenting.

>> Every child needs a family

Publications are available only in Croatian.

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Updated: 25 May 2016
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