Health Care for ECD

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Early identification of children at risk of or with developmental difficulties, followed by timely and quality support to enhance child development and learning can address developmental delays, reduce the impact of disabilities on child’s functioning, and promote social inclusion of children and their families. Many countries in Europe and Central Asia are now expanding their provisions for early childhood intervention (ECI) for children with developmental difficulties based on scientific research demonstrating the importance of the early years for a child’s optimal development. Countries have also started reforms to change approaches from medical and rehabilitation support to new models of early childhood intervention that build on the children’s natural learning and development pathways. 

Effective and quality early childhood intervention services are informed by the social model of disability focusing on enhancing child participation and inclusion in her/his natural environments.   They aim to address the child’s areas of difficulties in the context of the family and through interventions in the child’s natural environment. They build on family strengths, priorities and needs to address the multiple needs of children and their families. Ideally ECI services are delivered in a coordinated manner with participation of health, education and social protection sectors. 

Moving away from the legacy of clinical, medically focused services for young children with disabilities is a long and difficult journey. This webinar aims to introduce the main dimensions of contemporary, evidence-based, family-centred ECI. It will present the experiences of three countries that have been systematically working over the past years to strengthen their national ECI systems, demonstrating the diversity of approaches and institutional arrangements, entry points and lessons learnt in national ECI system building. 

The webinar will explore:  

  • Evidence, underlying philosophy and structural elements of contemporary systems for ECI, as well as main steps toward building a coordinated, multi-sectoral system for ECI with a specific reference to the experience of Portugal. 

  • Approaches to ECI system building: the experiences of three countries:  

    • Serbia: building a coordinated ECI systems with participation of health, education and social protection sectors.  
    • Belarus: embedding ECI in the health care sector.  
    • Bulgaria: expanding ECI services as part of the community-based social services in support of young children and their families.  

This webinar is organised by UNICEF Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia (ECARO) and WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe) under the auspices of the Health Systems for Early Childhood Development initiative.  

The webinar will be presented in English with simultaneous interpretation in Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian, Russian, and Turkish. 

You may find the webinar presentation slides below:

Dr José Boavida - keynote

FIlip Wolf and Snezana Ilic - building the ECI system in Serbia

Dr Anna Simchenko - experience from Belarus

Vania Kaneva - experience from Bulgaria