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Key stakeholders meet for drafting of the action plan for a national ECI system in Greece

The ECI Greece project hosted a series of four roundtables with key stakeholders in Athens, Greece this past month for the drafting of a national action plan for ECI.

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) is the support given to children with (or at risk of) disabilities, developmental issues, and their families. In the framework of the Greek deinstitutionalisation process, ECI has been a priority for the Greek authorities for the last few years. A strong ECI system ensures that those children and families have opportunities for better development and inclusion in society. 

To support this push, EASPD has been hard at work on the ECI Greece project, funded through DG REFORM's Technical Support Instrument, which aims to support the Greek Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to improve the availability of quality ECI services in Greece and create the conditions for a reform towards family-centred ECI in Greece. 

A crucial step in this process is the development of a national Action Plan for ECI in Greece. The Plan will provide concrete objectives, milestones, and actions to move towards a family-centred ECI system that will provide a coordinated system for early identification and quality support.   

To inform the process of drafting the Action Plan, a series of roundtables were hosted in Athens on 6-7th March to gather feedback from key stakeholder on the initial Action Plan proposal. The roundtables were structured around the key areas of the Action Plan: service provision, early detection and referral, training, and inter-sectoral coordination and funding.  

Around 30 stakeholders participated, including representatives from the Ministries of Labour and Social Affairs, Education, Health, and Interiors, the parent’s association (POSGAMEA), UNICEF, the Institute of Child Health, paediatricians, universities, and ECI service providers. The meetings were productive and insightful, particularly since in Greece it is not common for representatives from these sectors to come together and discuss. With the collaboration of all, a clear coordination system between the different sectors involved in all aspects of ECI can be defined, paving the way for a successful reform process of ECI. 

For the next steps, relevant comments and suggestions shared during the roundtables will be integrated into the action plan, and a follow-up meeting will be hosted to eventually validate the plan.