A guest article by Petya Bankova from the organisation Our Premature Children
Since 2012, the “Our premature children” Foundation actively supports preterm born babies and their parents through community building, spreading of information about preterm birth and related topics, improving the conditions in which babies are cared for in the NICU and building up close collaboration with professionals to advance neonatal care and practices.
The Foundation is an active advocate for the cause of preterm birth and works together with the institutions to improve national policies in the field of neonatology and long-term care for preterm born children, as well as establishing a national programme for follow-up, prevention and early childhood intervention of preventable and treatable complications caused by preterm birth.
What has been achieved?
The Family Centre is our most ambitious project so far and opened its doors on the occasion of World Prematurity Day 2017. Our intention is to deepen the support we provide and broaden the range of services to help families.
At the Family Centre parents can consult specialists in the field of early child development – psychologists, speech therapists, early intervention and motor development specialists, a music therapist, an occupational therapist and breastfeeding consultants. Parents and children have the opportunity to visit psychotherapeutic groups. Various other group activities are held regularly: art-studios, play groups, musical activities, lectures on topics related to the care of preterm born babies, and trainings for parents.
Family Centre services and specialists support parents in terms of the follow-up, prevention, early detection and early intervention of conditions typical for preterm born infants such as: difficulty in speech development, motor development and coordination, impaired memory and concentration, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, as well as emotional and psychological problems. All of these can be prevented or their impact on the child can be drastically reduced if they are detected and addressed timely.
The biggest challange is financing and promoting the centre. Maintenance costs for the Family Centre amount to approximately 35,000 Euro per year. Since our specialised services will only be partially paid by the parents to remain truly accessible, we are working hard for every donation that helps us to become sustainable and to grow so we can continue to carry out our mission.
Our goal is to create a community and space in which both, parents and children feel protected, where they can address their worries and their specific needs are met with understanding and genuine support.