Children and Disability in the Context of Family Breakdown in Central and South Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union

Elayn Sammon

This report is intended to develop understanding of the issues of children and disability in the context of family breakdown and thus contribute to informed programming. The report is not intended to be a full scientific study. By drawing on the real life experiences of children, parents and others, closely involved in the care of young people with disabilities in the central and eastern European and former Soviet Union region, it aims to forward a realistic analysis of current issues and options for the future.

In programme development, measures that have an impact on issues affecting children with disabilities are often perceived as 'add-on' rather than integral. That is, programmes are designed without being inclusive of the most marginalised and isolated groups and consequently don’t meet their needs. This document puts forward recommendations for programming based on an understanding of the rights and needs of children with disabilities. The information contained in this report is based on ongoing contact and discussions with children and families in the countries of central and eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, in particular those countries in which EveryChild works, as well as on other data gathered by EveryChild staff working in the region.

In essence, the report concludes that all agencies interested in addressing the global development needs of the world's children, including EveryChild, should pay particular attention to addressing the specific needs of those children who have been marginalized by their societies as a result of their disability. The report recommends that EveryChild introduce a policy of mainstreaming, that is, systematically addressing, and incorporating measures that challenge discrimination and promote equality for children with disabilities into all programmatic, operational and organisational activities. To aid this process draft guidelines and checklists are proposed to help staff transform a policy, of defying prejudice and advancing equality for the region's disabled children, into a reality.