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Everything you Need to Know about Early-Childhood Intervention Services

You probably have heard already about Early-Childhood Intervention (ECI) Services, especially if you are a father or mother, but there is also a high proportion of citizens that have not yet had the opportunity to get acquainted with this terminology. Let's explain it in a few lines.

 

ECI programmes and services are designed to support young children who are at risk or have been identified as having developmental delay or disabilities during the most intensive period of their lives and critical stage of human development, from prenatal period to eight years of age; as well as to support their families.

 

Given the importance of this period of life for any children, it is vital to ensure access to interventions that can help them in reaching their full potential. If this is not the case, children with development delays or disabilities and their families are often confronted to lifetime consequences such as poverty, exclusion, stigma, discrimination, institutionalisation, abuse and limited access to social and health services.

 

Existing international legal frameworks

ECI services and programmes should be considered as an essential part of any social policy at any level of governance (local, national and European). From a human rights perspective ECI services should be a priority. There are two international legal and policy frameworks that recognise the rights of all children and children with disabilities in particular: The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (article 7). Both conventions provide a common framework with key human rights instruments for all States parties and for the European Union.  

 

Lack of statistics

According to international estimations more than a billion people live with some form of disability, which equates to approximately 15% of the world’s population.  However there are currently no reliable and representative statistics of the number of children with disabilities because of the differences in definitions and measurement methodologies as well as the limitations of census in many communities.

 

Barriers

  • Young children with disabilities are often overlooked in mainstream programmes and services designed to ensure child development
  • They do not receive specific supports required to meet their needs
  • Inadequate legislation and policies
  • Negative attitudes
  • Lack of accessible environments

Lines of action

  • Twin-track approach. Mainstream social and health services should be accessible for children with disabilities and complement with individualised support services (therapy and assistive devices, among others) depending on the child’s needs as well as family services.
  • Involvement of a wide range of sectors such as education and health sectors in the design and development of ECI programmes and services.
  • Capacity development of human resources across sectors.
  • Public awareness and understanding about children with disabilities
  • Data collection and research.
  • Involvement of children with disabilities and their families in the development of ECI programmes and services.

All these issues will be addressed during the upcoming EASPD annual conference “Growing Together” in Chisinau, Moldova, from 21 to 22 April 2016.
 

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