13 Apr STORIES THAT INSPIRED US – Keeping the family together


Youth with Disabilities Forum advocates for equal treatment of all members of society and, in accordance with that, they are working every day to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities, regardless of age.

The project on which they are the most proud of is “Social opportunities for empowering families – living in the community for persons with mental disabilities”, which is supported by the European Union and is a part of the Open arms project.

Work engagement of people with intellectual and mental disabilities promotes the quality of life, not only for individuals, but it  also strengthens their families. In addition, family counselor service provides support to families who have members with disabilities, and promote rights: “We are very committed to the creation of recommendations for public policies that are based on state assessment and analysis of opportunities for independent living of persons with disabilities in the community, as a precondition for deinstitutionalization”  emphasizes the Forum.

Within this project, a new social protection service “Family Counselor for families with members with disabilities” was created, on which they are particularly proud off. Family Advisor is an innovative service that is primarily aimed at strengthening family resilience of families of persons with disabilities, regardless of whether it is a family with a child with developmental disabilities or a family who has an adult  member with disabilities. The purpose of the service is to contribute to preserving the integrity of the family and improving the quality of life of all members.



The family that has a member with a disability, be it a child, a young or an adult with disabilities, faces a source of stress and adversity that destabilizes the family and parental system and can lead to different forms of improper functioning of the family – the family is not able to adequately take care of their disabled member, of itself and that can lead to inadequate and unenabeling attitude towards members with disabilities and to their relocation from the family. Families can also develop inadequate attitude towards their disabled members even after their relocation and they will not be able to maintain a good relationship with them. They will also not be ready to, after their own empowerment, re-accept their members with disabilities.

The service is aimed at adult family members, holders of family care – the child’s parents or adults who have adult members with disabilities or other close family members. The service is primarily focused on strengthening their capacity to overcome specific stress caused by dealing with the disability of a family member and develop the capacity to establish an adequate relationship and attitude towards members with disabilities, enabling them support, acceptance and encouragement of their development.

In 2015, this service benefited 25 families from 14 cities / municipalities in Serbia, whose members with disabilities were at risk of being placed in a closed institution or are already in an institution of social protection. The service was conducted for a period of 3 months, and was provided by the 25 “Family advisers” – professionals in the field of social protection that had previously successfully completed a five-day training program in this organization.

The service was provided in 2016 also. It was used by 30 families from 9 cities / municipalities, and was implemented in a period of 6 months.

“Our wish is to contribute to the social inclusion of people with disabilities by advocating and promoting  human rights through the establishment of cross-sector partnerships, building and strengthening the necessary human and other resources and  capacities” cites the Forum.

For more information on the Youth with Disabilities Forum and their activities, please visit their website.

This story is a part of the aspirations of the TACSO Serbia and TACSO by Civic Initiatives to promote good practices of civil society organizations in Serbia and motivate other organizations that invest on daily basis their energy and efforts in creating a better society for all citizens of Serbia.