Entela Lako, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Albania, October 2019
Services for people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups in Albania account for 25% of overall social services. However, only 17% of people with disabilities have access to social services throughout the country. The Development Center for children with disabilities in Lushnja was established in 2016 by the Municipality in partnership with UNDP and with funding support from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC). The collaboration with the Municipality for its establishment is part of UNDP support to various municipalities in Albania to design new models of community-based social services for persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, aiming to provide inclusion to the furthest left behind. The intervention ultimately contributed in supporting the Municipality to provide 52 children with disabilities and their families with access to quality social care services.
While supporting the country's efforts to expand and consolidate the safety net with more social care services for the people in need under the Leave No One Behind programme, UNDP and the municipality have worked together to design and set-up a new model of community-based social service for persons with disabilities. Run by the municipality, it functions as a day-care center with a capacity of more than 50 children, offering special social care services ranging from development therapies, to speech therapies, physiotherapy, and psychological support. Children receive one or more therapy sessions daily, depending on their needs. Therapies are thus tailor-made for each of them. A child that receives speech therapy, for example, goes through various exercises, such as breathing, or facial rehabilitation therapies.
Currently, this center offers services to 52 children with disabilities aged between 2 to 16 years old. The centre follows a participatory approach bringing together centre specialists with parents and other family members as well as school teachers who are interested and involved in the development of an environment that enables disabled people and their families to maximise their own potential, to improve their quality of life and have the same opportunities with other children.
Specialised services are being provided by 18 professionals that include social workers, psychologists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, etc. The support includes the continuous provision of capacity building for the professional staff. Such collaboration was scaled up in 11 other municipalities (Pogradec, Sarande, Bulqize, Shijak, Permet, Ura Vajgurore, Peshkopi, Kruja, Vlora, Korça and Maliq) under the 'Leave No One Behind' initiative.
> Find out more about Leave No One Behind in Albania
> Learn more about the Lushnje Development Centre in the below video