Sensory integration of children and youth in Kikinda

Within the project “Development of innovative local social services for persons from vulnerable groups in Kikinda – Rehabilitation Center for Sensory Integration”, conducted by the Pannonian initiative in partnership with the City of Kikinda, enabled the innovative service of sensory integration for children and youth with disabilities in Kikinda. This project was supported by the European Union with 190,913.74 EUR, while project implementers managed to obtain another EUR 25,076.46 through co-financing.

The problem that coordinators wanted to address was the inadequate social integration of children and young people with disabilities in the wider social community due to the lack of rehabilitation treatments that would improve their social and health capacity in city of Kikinda.

The project responded to this problem by creating and establishing an innovative social service of the sensory integration within the Rehabilitation Center for Sensory Integration. The project provided renovation and equipping the premises of the Rehabilitation Center, i.e. 3 rooms for therapeutic work – sensory room, white room and salty room. Therapeutic work in these rooms is intended for children and young people with developmental disorders, i.e. improvement of their psychophysical condition.

The project provides therapeutic work for 30 children and youth with disabilities from Kikinda and surrounding villages. Therapeutic work included sensory rehabilitation (sensory room), halo therapeutic rehabilitation (salty room) and psychological rehabilitation (white room). A specially trained expert team of the Rehabilitation Center provided the service. In addition to the services within the project, 6 professional documents were developed: (1) Strategic Plan of the Kikinda Municipality, (2) Proposal of the Minimum of the Standard of Innovative Social Services, (3) Cost of Expenses of Innovative Social Service, (4) The Impact of Social Service on a Wider Community, (5) The System for Monitoring the Respect of Human Rights in the Framework of Innovative Social Services; and (6) Communication Strategy for the Promotion of Innovative Sensory Integration Services. The above documents have ensured the sustainability of innovative social services, system of monitoring and improving the quality of innovative social services as well as preconditions for the process of standardizing innovative social services.

Evaluation of beneficiaries (families of children and youth with disabilities) was done monthly, by professionals (as part of innovative social services) and within the establishment of a human rights monitoring system for working with children and youth with disabilities. Families of children with disabilities who participated in the project identified visible progress in the psychosocial condition of their families after the therapy work within the Rehabilitation Center.

In the future, coordinators see potential progress in this field in improving the quality of life of children and young people with disabilities as well as their families by linking sensory integration as rehabilitation techniques with special education schools, or education institutions.

During the project realization, the project team also learned several new things. More intensive connection with the user associations of people with disabilities is needed in order to provide the services of the Rehabilitation Center to those families who are not beneficiaries of other programs or the Center for Social Work. Also, in addition to service (sensory integration), for families of children and young people with developmental disabilities, it would be very important to connect with personal assistance services and / or personal companion, as this would further exempt pressure on the family that could separate it at that time for doing other jobs. Finally, they came to the conclusion that linking innovative social services for people with disabilities (sensory integration) with other services (i.e. day care) gives more effective results in working with this target group.

The project is implemented under the grant scheme “Development of efficient services in community areas of education and social welfare at the local level”. This grant scheme with a budget of 5.5 million euros, finances project activities for 30 beneficiaries and covers local self-government, civil society organizations, and relevant institutions at the local level aimed for the promotion of social entrepreneurship and for preventing the dropout children from the school system in Serbia. The project also aims to increase the capacities of the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs in the management of the grant scheme, as well as to guide and modernize the process of drafting the Strategy for Social Welfare and other innovative regulatory mechanisms in the field of social policy.