Challenges and Prospects of Early Child Development Program

6 Dec, 2015

Representatives of Social Services Agency, International Organizations and NGOs discussed the prospects, challenges and strategy of Early Child Development Program at a conference held today [7 December] in the Ministry of Health. Round Table was held with the support of the Coalition for Early Childhood Intervention and the Open Society Georgia Foundation. The coalition unifies 13 non-governmental organizations working on child related issues.

Organizers of the conference believe that all children with special needs or developmental delays should enjoy the Early Child Development Program, which includes timely involvement in the child’s development process and assistance for families.

According to one of the surveys conducted in 2010, in Georgia 8.5% of two-year-old children have a developmental delay. There are approximately 300 000 children under the age of 5 in Georgia, which means that 25 000 children may have a similar problem.

Early Child Development Program has been established in Georgia 6 years ago. Despite the fact that over the last 2 years the number of Early Child Development Program funded vouchers has been annually increased by 40%, it still cannot meet the demand. Currently 841 children require the service, though only 495 of them are provided with the service.

Several months ago, organizer of the conference – Coalition for Early Childhood Intervention developed the National Strategy and Action Plan of children’s early intervention. The strategy includes creation of a sustainable and continuously operating system, through which a child in need of intervention is effectively identified, children are provided with high-quality service and staff is constantly trained. At the conference, the Coalition for Early Childhood Intervention made demand on the expansion of the current state program. “We believe that the creation of the early intervention system is of great importance and this should be the priority of the Government. National Strategy and Action Plan for Early Childhood Intervention prepared by the Coalition ought to be shared according to which all children will have access to Early Childhood Development Services by 2020”- said in the appeal.

Members of the Coalition for Early Childhood Intervention are:

A. Lachkepiani Association of Pediatric Neurology and Neurosurgery, Academy of Georgia for children with special needs, NeuroDevelopment Center, Georgian Portage Association, Rehabilitation and Development Center in Batumi, Bridge for Social Inclusion in Kutaisi, First Step Georgia, foundation Global Initiative on Psychiatry – Tbilisi, Physicians for Human Rights, Registered Union “Georgian Children”, Public Advocate Association in Telavi, Coalition for Social Reforms in Poti, Institute of Neurology and Neuropsychology.


Child development and early intervention in Georgia

A developmental delay does not mean only developmental disability. Developmental delay may be expressed with communication disorders or speech problems, attention deficit and other behavioral problems. Developmental delay can be determined through various examinations, after which the child needs early intervention. Beneficiaries of early intervention may be the children who have been diagnosed with various neurological diseases or have any disorders, which lead to a delay in development. Team working with children and their families is completed by early intervention specialists, psychologists, occupational and physical therapists. In case of detecting developmental delay, it is more effective to take care of a child’s development under the age of 3, or at least until the age of 7.

Early intervention does not involve children’s rehabilitation. It is adjusted to the needs of the family. Early development program also envisages the establishment of the methods of working and developing children in kindergartens.