FACT SHEET: Service Centers for Families of Children with Disabilities

Project Snapshot
Total Funding:  $1,066,000 
Project Duration:  May 2014 – Present
Implementing Partners: Dajte Nam Sansu (Give Us a Chance), which manages both Sarajevo centers; Svjetlice and Dajte Nam Sansu (Sparkles and Give Us a Chance) in Banja Luka; Tracak Nade (Glimmer of Hope) in Foca; and Dlan in Zenica.

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 has been unable to fully meet its responsibility to citizens with special needs. 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.

USAID Assistance

USAID assistance improves the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families by supporting the establishment of Service Centers for Families of Children with Disabilities. These specialized service centers provide parents and guardians with a safe, rehabilitative place that can accommodate a short stay for their children and youth with disabilities. 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. They provide informational and psychological support, a respite from caretaking responsibilities, and social and learning time for the children outside the home under the care of trained teachers, nurses, and volunteers. 

By establishing these centers and offering such support, USAID helps build stronger families, especially women, and improves social inclusion of persons with disabilities. The centers free family members to realize their own right to work and live lives of their own, if only for a few hours at a time, while providing their children with an environment that will improve their psycho-social development.

The entire community benefits from these centers. 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.

Implementation and Results

In 2014, USAID provided funds to establish the first-ever specialized service center for families with disabled children in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). USAID partnered with the Novi Grad Sarajevo municipal government, which contributed $15,000 to refurbish premises for the center. The implementing partner was Dajte Nam Sansu (Give Us a Chance) Association. Based on the successful model of the first Sarajevo center, additional service centers have been established in Banja Luka, Foca, Zenica and another part of Sarajevo. In all cases, USAID partnered with the municipalities – including Stari Grad Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Foca, and Zenica – which contributed by providing or refurbishing center premises. In total, the five centers provide services to more than 800 families of children with disabilities. 

Total USAID funding for these five specialized centers is $1,066,000. In all cases, USAID partnered with the municipalities, which contributed by providing or refurbishing center premises. 

USAID is planning to open two more centers in near future.

 

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

Last updated: September 30, 2019

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