On September 17th, 2014. The Croatian Cerebral Palsy Association (HSUCDP) organised the first conference of the project named “Empowering families and children with disabilities” which is the part of IPA IV. component of the “Operational Program Human Resources Development 2007. – 2013.”, financed by the grant award named “Broadening the network of social services in the community – Phase II”. The implementation of the project started on June 21st, 2014. and will last until December 20th, 2015. The project is funded mainly by the European Union grants from the European Social Fund (88.08%) while the rest of the grants is financed by funds of HSUCDP (11.92%). Project partners are Centre for Rehabilitation Zagreb, Association of Persons with Disabilitiesof Sisak County, Association of Physically Disabled Persons Bjelovar and Association of Disabled People Križevci.
The project activities are aimed into development of quality social services in areas of special national interest with the goal to enable the families who are caring for their members with disabilities in achieving a better balance between their work and family roles. In such a manner, we’re enhancing standards of people with disabilities and children with disabilities, as persisting in their integration into the community.
The conference was held at the ‘’Tribina grada Zagreba’’ in Zagreb, and was opened by HSUCDP president Ivan Vujec, upon which he welcomed the attendees and expressed his great satisfaction with the beginning of the implementation of project activities, briefly focusing on the utility of the same and pointing out that activities of civil society shouldn’t be oriented exclusively to big cities but also in rural areas, where many problems are still present and where are most common needs for quality care of people with disabilities and children with disabilities.
After the introductory words, the conference was continued by the project manager Sanja Lazic, who has presented the project, the main objectives, activities and the expected results of the project. Ms. Lazic pointed out that the main value of this project is certainly persistency on preventing the institutionalization of children with disabilities, the development of social services, and employment of six new experts from the project partners associations situated in three counties of special national interest. New employees will gain professional training held by experts of the project partner Center for Rehabilitation Zagreb. Another activities of the project are consisted of ensuring the availability of patronage and psychosocial strengthening of families and children with disabilities for the rest period through occupational therapy as an innovative and integrative social services in the community, as long as the establishment of day care centers in three counties, which will enable the provision of quality services to parents and children with disabilities.
After the presentation of the project itself, project partners started their presentations by explaining their roles within the project.
Representative of the partner Center for Rehabilitation Zagreb – Slobostina branch, office head-master Teodora Not presented the current work of the Centre patronage and other Centre activities and explained the role of the Centre in the project activities. Ms. Not pointed out that the Centre strongly supports the process of de-institutionalization, and that through this project the Centre perceives development of their work and professional teams in the counties of special national interest. Furthermore, the project coordinator Gordana Karlovčan, also representative of the Centre for Rehabilitation Zagreb, explained the content and benefits of the professional teams education, as well as the usefulness of PIS applications (Patronage Information System), whose production is provided within the project. Ms. Karlovčan outlined that the great advantage of the project Centre perceives exactly in the PIS application, which will remain in the Centre for future support of mobile teams. With the application Centre will keep records of their service users, as well as the frequency and work evaluation.
In the following presentation, representative of the partner Association of Persons with Disabilities of Sisak County (UOSISMŽ), secretary and head of the office Aleksandra Milković presented the current work of the association, as well as the previous experience and the reasons for the partnership in the project. Ms. Milković has introduced the attendees with previous projects of HSUCDP where UOSISMŽ participated as a partner, and emphasized the importance of education provided by the Center for Rehabilitation Zagreb in this project. Ms. Milković announced that UOSISMŽ aspires to become a kind of center for the provision of social services to children with disabilities in their local environment.
Furthermore, representative of the Association of Physically Disabled Bjelovar (UTIB), president of UTIB Tomislav Novosel introduced the audience with the activities of the association as well as its work and achievements. On this occasion, Mr. Novosel expressed his satisfaction regarding the partnership in the project, and indicated a series of benefits that association and Bjelovar county will yield through this project. As stated by Mr. Novosel, this project will have a certain echo and results in the community, and will certainly provide a better balance between work and family responsibilities for families who care for children with disabilities and persons with disabilities.
Finally, representative of the Association of Disabled People Križevci (ADPK), administrative officer Mario Stančić held a presentation and introduced the work of the association and collaboration with local and national authorities, as well as stressed the importance of the project for the organization and the local community, which altogether enables the provision of quality social services to families who care of members with disabilities.
The conference was closed by HSUCDP President Ivan Vujec who wished for a lot of success in the implementation of project activities, and thanked to attendees for their participation.