Sustaining the Rehabilitation of Disabled Children by Training Mothers to be Partners in Treatment and Advocacy
There is limited understanding and acceptance of disabled children in Palestinian society. As a result, disabilities can marginalize children and stigmatize their mothers. Institutions offering rehabilitation require lengthy in-house treatment, which removes disabled children from their families, sometimes preventing their reintegration after the course ends. Such programs also have limited impact: high residency costs limit the number of places and treatment ends when children leave the program.
After recognizing that in-house programs isolate children, the Jerusalem Princess Basma Center for Disabled Children began admitting the mother alongside her disabled child through its residential Mothers' Empowerment Program supported by USAID and other donors. While the child is receiving treatment, the multi-disciplinary program builds the mother’s capacity to be an equal partner in rehabilitating her child. She is educated on the causes of the disability, trained to cope physically and mentally with the child’s condition, taught how to continue the customized therapy program at home, and empowered to advocate for herself and for her child in her family and community, particularly for education, access, and treatment.
By extending the therapy into the home with the mother's help, the center has been able to shift from a lengthy residential program with small intake into a combined in-house/in-community program that treats more children for the same cost. The center has been able to shorten the treatment period (from three months to two to three weeks), enabling them to increase their in-take of children by 300%.
Treating disabled children in isolation from their family and their community creates results that are limited in sustainability and impact and does not address the marginalization and disempowerment of the children and their family.