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EU and UNICEF Delegation visited Volyn Oblast for the Better Care reform monitoring


Members of the EU Delegation to Ukraine and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) visited Lutsk to personally see and discuss the Better Care reform initiatives at the regional level.

During their mission, EU and UNICEF representatives met with the management of the Volyn Regional State Administration to discuss the implementation of the Better Care reform. The discussions particularly focused on reforming institutions for children with disabilities and improving the early intervention system. The delegation also visited a Day care center for children with disabilities aged 6 to 12, launched in Lutsk at the beginning of this year, and the Child’s home, which will soon host a regional Rehabilitation center for children with disabilities.

The delegation included Henrik Huitfeldt, Head of the Public Finance, Business Support and Social Policies section at the EU Delegation to Ukraine; Jean Choi, Chief of the Child Protection Section of UNICEF; and Nienke Voppen, Chief of the UNICEF Lviv Field Office.

“As a modern European inclusive country, even amid the ongoing full-scale war of Russian aggression, Ukraine is continuing to improve the care system for children with special needs. The region of Volyn is a good example where good reform progress has been achieved through a fruitful cooperation between national and local authorities, international partners, and leading NGOs. We will continue to support the reform also in other regions building on the positive results in Volyn” noted Henrik Huitfeldt.

According to Jean Choi, about 13,000 children with special educational needs are currently growing up in the Volyn region, and nearly 6,000 families are raising children with disabilities. “UNICEF is working with partners to ensure that all children including those with disabilities or special needs can grow up in safe and nurturing families and access services to support their upbringing in their communities. We are incredibly grateful and inspired by the positive changes we observed today in Lutsk, made possible by the vision and leadership of the communities and oblasts that have committed to providing better care for their children,” emphasized the Chief of the Child Protection Section of UNICEF in Ukraine.

“Volyn region is one of ten pilot regions implementing the Better Care reform for every child. We hope that the actions of local authorities, NGOs, and all implementing partners here will become a model for the whole country,” stated Nienke Voppen.

As part of the comprehensive recovery program in Volyn oblast, significant progress has been made across various sectors. UNICEF supported the opening of Barnahus as well as launching the working groups for the Better Care reform in 10 communities. The design for rebuilding social centers/resilience centers is almost complete, and national initiatives are transforming childcare institutions for children without parental care.

Additionally, over 30 patronage doctors and nurses have been trained under the Home Visiting program to support mothers. In youth engagement, UNICEF has opened two youth centers in Novovolynsk and Kivertsi, introduced the global UPSHIFT program enabling over 150 young people to implement their projects, and supported the start of a master’s degree program in youth policy management at Lutsk National Technical University.

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