Caring for Children with Disabilities

Children with disabilities make up a higher percent of the children in residential care around the world, and they can face additional vulnerabilities. During the transition, individualized care plans need to include further considerations that support children with learning challenges or physical disabilities. In situations in which discrimination may be an issue, identify people of influence within the community, including faith leaders, and school and government officials, in addition to caregivers, who can respond appropriately within the community.

It is important to note that special services, rehabilitation, therapies, and supported school integration are all important aspects of care planning, during all phases of the transition process. Families need to have sufficient community supports in place to care for the children. These may include trauma healing and psychological care, assistance integrating into school, special day services, equipment or physical aids (such as wheelchairs or hearing aids), specialized training for families (such as children’s care or how to communicate through sign language), and respite care for caregivers.

Family Care for Children with Disabilities: Practical Guidance for Frontline Workers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Helps front-line personnel (social service workers and others) in low- and middle-income countries to work effectively with children with disabilities and their families. It was written particularly for those who have little or no experience working with children with disabilities, and it provides easy to read information and advice for those who may have little or no experience working with children with disabilities.

Enabling Reform: Why Supporting Children with Disabilities Must Be at the Heart of Successful Child Care Reform Focuses on children with disabilities and alternative care and demonstrates the urgent need to place disability at the heart of child care reform agendas. Highlights the benefits of inclusive, multisector, community-based responses instead of institutionalization, and the benefits of providing support for children with disabilities in families. (Better Care Network and EveryChild)

Psychosocial Support for Children with Disability and Their Carers Provides an overview of psychosocial support for children with disabilities, including the effects and impact of disability. Provides a table of suggested interventions. (REPSSI)

Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities Reviews concrete initiatives and strategies for advancing the social inclusion of children with disabilities. (UNICEF)

Deinstitutionalization – A Human Rights Priority for Children with Disabilities Explores recent advances in policy and action to address the issue of institutionalization and makes recommendations for transforming the health, education, and social protection systems. Dispels some myths around institutions and shows that children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to abuses of their human rights. Demonstrates the way in which the interaction between disability, ethnicity, and poverty creates discrimination and disadvantage. (Mulheir, G.)

Common European Guidelines on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care Provides guidance on implementing and supporting the transition from institutional care to family-based and community-based alternatives for children, persons with disabilities, persons with mental health problems, and older persons within the European context. (European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care)

Study on Deinstitutionalization of Children and Adults with Disabilities in Europe and Eurasia Features the findings from a study regarding the institutionalization of people with disabilities in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Provides an overview of the situation of children and adults with disabilities in the region, offers information on the key principles and important elements of deinstitutionalization, describes the progress made to achieve deinstitutionalization, and concludes with recommendations for USAID Missions interested in deinstitutionalization programs. (USAID)

White Paper: Strengthening Inclusion Strategies for Children with Disabilities (CWD) within the context of Care Reform This paper further develops the concept of inclusion described in the Family Care of Children with Disabilities: Guidance for Frontline Workers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries and promotes three pillars of inclusion that may be currently missing in policy making and planning strategies of donors, institutions and State bodies. (Gwendolyn Burchell MBE)


We All Need Families at the End of the Day – Special Care Highlights the increased risk of family separation faced by children with special needs and advocates for the provision of quality family-based care to children who cannot be with their parents or extended families. Gives an inside look at an assisted family setting in Ghana where children with disabilities live with their foster mothers. (Better Care Network and UNICEF)

Notable Chronicles the challenges of disability for children and young adults, and proclaims the worth and beauty of every human being.