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Country, Date of election

Hungary 2014



Barbara Czeizel gives new hope to families with young children at risk of developmental delays, disabilities or atypical behavior by offering complex, institutionalized services to create better future prospects for these children and allowing them to become full and active members of their societies. The number of children receiving proper treatment across Europe has risen significantly by independent replication of her extraordinay, comprehensive approach.


Investment in early childhood intervention (ECI) – a system of professional services for very young children at risk of developmental delays, disabilities or atypical behavior – is a strategic question for each country, preventing abandonment and translating into positive returns on each dollar invested. However, in the European context, government service programs fail to provide integrated ECI strategies in all policies (social, health care, educational and fiscal) leading to families lacking resources and skills to know how to develop their child during this critical period. The overall share of children with special needs in any given population is about 10%; however, at least 1 million children are still ‘missing’ from national disability registers in the CEE/CIS countries.


Over the past 20 years, a steadily growing number of 6,000 children and families have been directly helped by Barbara‘s center. They pioneered among other things with special daycare services for multiply and severely multiply disabled children, children with autism and also with a preventive program for premature babies and their families. Barbara introduced the first post-secondary course for caregivers to specialize in ECI. Each year, around 100-150 professional visitors are hosted in her center to observe and learn the know-how, while also get trained. Barbara’s approach enlarged the pool of children receiving proper treatment across Europe encouraging the independent adoption of her model center (Ukraine or Romania) and mindset change.


In 1991, Barbara Czeizel and her team established a model for a center addressing a broad spectrum of developmental disorders and catering to all diagnostic, developmental and therapeutic requirements of a single child (aged 0-5) and her family under one roof. She drew attention to the importance of the earliest possible intervention during the child’s first years, which is the key to live a quality life both for the child and the family. Barbara and her team changed the paradigm of care by developing new types of relationships with hospitals, doctors, different specialists, parents and teachers. She institutionalized early intervention in Hungary and served as an example for other European countries.


Barbara’s Early Intervention Center is set up to continue innovating and establishing the national ECI network through model programs and professional trainings, while Barbara also goes out to spread the word in the country and internationally. Her vision is to let every family get access to these crucial services in time from well-educated professionals delivering high quality aid. Barbara’s goal is to influence policy makers and the broader public with this ideal in mind and push the entire society towards reaching complete social inclusion. Furthermore, by expanding the infrastructural capacity of one of the Center’s buildings Barbara plans to support more families in need, and host and train more students and healthcare professionals in the near future.


Ever since she was a child Barbara prepared to pursue a sports career as a runner, but a knee injury made her to change plans. Being inspired by her parents working also with disabled kids as physicians, she chose to study special education. As a young teacher graduate Barbara became obsessed by the notion that it is the needs of families that should drive the profession and was eager to put the theoretical foundations of the profession into practice.

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