Young children with disabilities frequently face stigmatization; they are more prone to exclusion, abandonment and institutionalisation—often leaving their developmental needs unmet. Equally, the parents of children with disabilities can face isolation and poverty as they attempt to negotiate adequate services for their children to enable them to reach their potential.
Segregated special education kindergartens and schools, although often focussed on meeting children's needs, can in fact exacerbate children's isolation in society. The Early Childhood Program at Open Society Foundations strongly advocates for inclusive access to education and children's services as outlined in the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Recognising parents as experts on the barriers to full inclusion that their children face, the Early Childhood Program believes that family involvement is paramount in promoting inclusive practices. This report on the attitudes and actions of parents of children with disabilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, researched by the Open University with support from the Open Society Foundations, highlights the importance of parent's organisations as a resource and support network for children and parents alike. It also emphasises the potential of parents groups to become powerful advocates for inclusive education.