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Reform Support
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Supporting reforms to strengthen labour markets social protection systems, and migration management

Funding Programme
  • 2022

Inclusion of children with disabilities in the context of deinstitutionalisation of substitute care in Slovak Republic

The Commission aims to foster the social inclusion of children with disabilities in the Slovak Republic by advancing the deinstitutionalisation of substitute care. It seeks to create a more inclusive society through enhanced services and support, ensuring children with disabilities enjoy equal opportunities and access to education, healthcare, and social activities.


In the Slovak Republic, the substitute care system is undergoing significant transformations aimed at better serving the needs of children requiring alternative care arrangements. The system, historically reliant on institutional care, is shifting towards a model that emphasizes family-based and community-centered solutions. The process of deinstitutionalisation of substitute care for children is one of the government’s priorities.

This change is propelled by the 'National Strategy for the Deinstitutionalisation of the System of Social Services and Alternative Care', adopted in March 2021, which sets forth ambitious goals to reduce institutional care reliance, diversify family-based care options, and enhance the quality of care for children. One of the objectives identified in this strategy is to enhance the quality of provision of care for children with disabilities, including ensuring conditions for their inclusion and improving support for families with a child or parent with disabilities. 

Despite these efforts, and improvements in the legal and policy frameworks which prioritise prevention and family support, challenges in implementation persist, including the overrepresentation of vulnerable groups such as children with disabilities in institutional care. The 2021 and 2022 reports of the national Ombudsperson on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities indicates that despite some legislative changes, the issue of the care and protection of children with disabilities remains unresolved. The persisting challenges point to the need to better comprehend the efficiency and effectiveness of the referral and gatekeeping mechanisms of the substitute care system, coherence and integration of prevention, and family support services provided by the substitute care system via implemented measures and allied social, education and health services. 

Support to be delivered

This project arises from a critical need to shift towards a more inclusive and supportive framework that prioritises community-based care, individual rights, and equal opportunities. It acknowledges the gaps in current practices and the urgent demand for reform, aiming to dismantle barriers that children with disabilities face in accessing education, healthcare, and social services. By promoting deinstitutionalisation, the initiative is not just about moving children out of institutions but fundamentally transforming the way care and support are delivered, ensuring it is tailored to the unique needs of each child and embedded within the community. This transition is aligned with international human rights standards and reflects Slovakia's commitment to upholding the dignity and potential of all its children, fostering a society that values diversity and inclusion.

Through this project, the Slovak Republic Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family benefit from technical support from the European Commission, which is implemented by UNICEF, aimed at strengthening their care capacities and establishing standards to create an environment that enables children with disabilities to realise their full potential and enjoy their rights.

Results to be achieved  

  • The Slovak authorities adopt a revised model for the social inclusion of children with disabilities in substitute care through the implementation of an integrated package of quality services provided by the substitute care system in cooperation with allied services. 
  • The Slovak authorities better monitor and evaluate the system performance and outcomes for children with disabilities in the substitute care system.
  • Slovak authorities strengthen their administrative capacity to evaluate and mainstream the revised approach into the existing system.

The Project will benefit all those concerned with the care and inclusion of children with disabilities in the Slovak Republic: line ministries, local authorities, service providers, academia and civil society organisations concerned with children with disabilities.