Date: 19-10-2023

ISSA welcomes a new Member: Meet the Charity Fund Early Intervention Institute Ukraine 

ISSA welcomes a new Member: Meet the Charity Fund Early Intervention Institute Ukraine 

The International Step by Step Association (ISSA) is pleased to welcome a new Member, the Charity Fund Early Intervention Institute (CF EII) in Ukraine. CF EII is an early childhood intervention (ECI) service organization, which supports families with young children who have or who are at risk of having developmental delays or disabilities, to ensure the social inclusion of these families and prevent institutionalization — as well as working towards the deinstitutionalization of children. The organization aims to ensure that every family in Ukraine has the possibility to receive an ECI service that meets international quality standards.  

Even after the war in Ukraine started, CF EII has continued to provide ECI services. They have also been training new ECI professionals in different parts of Ukraine as part of a UNICEF project and have provided supervision to other ECI teams. The organization is actively involved in advocacy and lobbying on national level, and Anna Kukuruza, the director is a member of the National ECI Council. 

We asked Anna a few questions about the work of the organization and what they hope to gain and contribute as a Member of ISSA.  

What does your organization wish to change in people’s lives and how? 

Our organization aims to change the lives of families who have young children with developmental delays or disabilities, or who are at risk by helping parents to raise, understand, and support their children’s development in order to help children acquire the skills they need in everyday life. We do this by helping parents to feel confident and competent, feel their strength, use their resources, understand their goals, and decide on a way to overcome difficulties. Our work contributes to the inclusion of these children in the environment of their peers (including accompanying the child at kindergarten and in other programs), developing family ties and building relationships with the surrounding world. Our organization also supports other professionals through training and supervisory support in their work with families, to ensure that as many families as possible receive quality service.  

Please share a positive anecdote or story about a child or family that your organization has supported? 

We worked with the family of a two-year-old boy, called Andrii. This family was forced to quickly leave their home in the city of Kharkiv and go to their grandmother during the active bombings at the start of Russia's large-scale aggression against Ukraine. During this time, the boy was in hospital three times, where he was given injections. This experience was very traumatic for the child, and he refused to communicate with any adults or children except his mom and dad. He screamed, ran away, did not go to any contact for four to five months, when the family contacted our organization.  

We began to build a relationship with Andrii very deliberately and cautiously so that he felt safe. His parents were involved in this process. Now the child smiles, plays hide-and-seek, maintains interaction and can play not only with his parents, but also with other adults in games he chooses. Andrii’s parents also feel more confident now and enjoy communicating with their son.     

What specific knowledge or expertise can you offer to other organizations?  

We have extensive knowledge and experience in training ECI specialists, both in person and online, as well as in conducting research. Additionally, we have knowledge and experience transitioning families from ECI services to other institutions.  

We offer training and support through intervision groups (case discussions) on:  

  • Early childhood development  
  • Children with developmental disabilities (assessment and development of support programs)  
  • Family relationship dynamics with parents   
  • The consequences of war trauma and the development of resilience in parents and children  

What challenges do you hope to get assistance with as a result of your participation in the network? 

Through participating in the ISSA Network, we hope to establish contacts with specialists who have information on helping and supporting young children and their families who have suffered during the war in Ukraine. We would also like to exchange experiences with colleagues from different countries regarding ECI services, as well as other services that aim to improve the mental health of infants and young children.