Innovative Practices 2015 on Independent Living and Political Participation
Returning children to their families and an inclusive environment
“The 5 years I spent in an institution for children with disabilities in Moldova felt like an eternity. My name is Dumitriṭa, I am a 14-year-old girl with disabilities and learning difficulties. Support services didn’t exist where I lived and the mainstream school would not accept me. My family could not afford the education and care I needed so I was placed in an institution for children with disabilities. This place was far from home which made family visits very difficult. In the institution I missed very much the love and care of my parents and sister. Being reunited with my family – thanks to Lumos’ support – was a dream come true. For 2 years, I’ve been studying at the mainstream school close to my home. I feel part of the community. I am very happy living with my family who love and support me. I like my new school, I am doing well here and my friends and teachers understand me. I am an advocate for inclusive education in our school’s participation group and speak out whenever I can. My dream is that all children with disabilities in Moldova can live with their families. I want to help other children to return home and give them confidence and hope for a better future.”
|Name of Innovative Practice:||Returning children to their families and an inclusive environment|
In 2007 approximately half of all children in institutions were those with disabilities living in residential special schools, separated from their families because the only education for such children was provided in segregated schools. When the government initially started a deinstitutionalisation program, it mainly focused on children without disabilities.
SOLUTION & METHODOLOGY
Lumos, in cooperation with local authorities, put in place community-based social services making it possible for children with disabilities in institutions to go home to their families or be placed in foster care. Simultaneously, it developed inclusive schools to make it possible for these children to be educated in mainstream schools, alongside their peers. The program also assisted the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Education to put in place a law that ensures that government funds that had been going to institutions to support disabled children are transferred with the children to community social services and inclusive schools (for additional support teachers, adaptations to buildings, etc.). To strengthen the capacity of teachers and stakeholders, training and awareness-raising was held for 15,000 professionals. Lumos is also monitoring and evaluating the impact of the transition.
OUTLOOK & TRANSFERABILITY
The project is completely scalable within Moldova because it has been proven in a number of regions and because the legislation frees up funding from institutions to finance community-based services. The project has demonstrated that it is considerably cheaper per child to support them in a family context and to have them receive an inclusive education in their own community than it is to keep them in an institution. It has also been shown that the increase in developmental and educational outcomes of children living at home with their families is significant.
Nominated by: Georgette MULHEIR, Lumos Foundation