Therapy centres for children with special needs

FARA’s community-based programmes in Bucharest (Samuel Centre) and Suceava County (St. Teresa's Centre and Emmanuel Centre) aim to improve the lives of children with mental and physical disabilities. The majority of these children come from impoverished families and some are living in foster care.

In Romania funded support for children with special needs is very limited. As few as 28% receive some form of education mostly in normal schools where they lack the individual attention and care they desperately need. Thanks to FARA's efforts, each month up to 150 children with special needs aged 0–12 years old receive specialized education, physiotherapy, speech therapy, sensory therapy, socializing and family support and counselling. And in the course of a year approximately 40 are integrated for the first time into mainstream schools or kindergarten.

The Samuel Centre opened in Bucharest in March 2007. In 2017, 40 children each week are attending the centre or benefitting from outreach services in their own homes. The services and therapies are adapted to each child's needs and can include group activities, one-to-one educational activities, socializing, art therapy, sensory therapy, speech therapy, physiotherapy and family guidance and support.

In the centre's ten years of activity over 120 children in need have been helped by its specialized staff (teachers, psychologists, speech therapists, physiotherapists) and over 80 children have been integrated into mainstream education or special schools. All activities are carried out in close collaboration with staff from the Department of Child Protection.

St. Teresa’s Therapy Centre near Falticeni, Suceava County (see the picture above) first opened in 2010. At that time the only local centre of its kind, it was expanded in 2012 to provide more than 60 children each month with special educational intervention, physiotherapy, speech therapy and sensory therapy.

Since 2013 St Teresa’s has also run its first special-needs class, a joint project by FARA and the local special school. The aim is to help children become integrated into their school and community and there is close collaboration with local authorities. All families with children in the programme are offered additional support in the form of household goods or transport.

The Emmanuel Centre opened in September 2014 at a central location in Suceava city. This non-residential therapy centre for children with special needs is the only provision of its kind in northeast Romania. Every month it enables around 80 children to receive education and support (one-to-one therapy, group therapy, socializing and speech therapy) for the very first time in their lives.

The centre works closely with statutory authorities. Children are referred for treatment by the local hospital and social services and the local council generously contributes £10,000 annually to pay for the cost of lighting, heating and water supplies.

Thanks to the outstanding results obtained by FARA's specialist staff and the partnerships signed with local doctors and authorities the Emmanuel Centre is gaining an enviable reputation. As a result, more and more parents are requesting its support for their children.