The Reformed Congregation of the Great Church of Debrecen, Immanuel Home and Developmental Education School provides complex services for the severely disabled, who are even within the domain of disabilities in one of the most peripheral position.
Our institution was founded in 1991 to satisfy a strikingly desperate need. Parents of severely disabled children were looking for a special educational needs provision in a somewhat defective health care system. Thanks to the flexibility of the Reformed Congregation of the Great Church of Debrecen, they were able to answer these needs even when there were no laws that regulated these activities yet. As a result of later legislation and further differentiating between special needs, our institution first started as a healthcare, then social- and healthcare, and after the 1993 Act on Public Education as a public educational and social institution. Finally, since 2013 we operate as a multi-purpose public educational facility. At the beginning, only 14 children used our services on a daily basis, and further 20 on an occasional basis, as part of their outpatient care.
Since then, as a multi-purpose public educational institution, we have a developmental educational and schooling facility providing special education for 37 students, as well as a social unit providing for 45 people. Each of our students and patients uses our outpatient service, including the specialist (neurology, orthopedy, rehabilitation and paediatrics) services. The many changes that have happened in this short period of time (reorientation, changes in our legal status) all served one end, that those severely disabled children and students using our services, who are already in peripheral position even within the domain of special needs education could receive the highest quality of services. At the same time, all these changes required an extraordinary level of flexibility and innovative approach both from our management and colleagues. Currently, we have 40 full-time employees working towards our common goal. As an ecclesiastical institution, we put great emphasis on religious education as well, adapted to our target group’s needs by our pastor and religious teacher.
Our daytime social care service provides a continued care for the severely disabled adults and those children who are not attending any full-time special education program, while during the summer also offering services for students taking part in the developmental education program. During these weekly ‘Youth Group’ sessions, attendees are able to practice and prepare for independent living and employment through developmental education methods with regards to their own abilities and qualities.
During school holidays, students may use our “part-time care service”, during which beside the regular care and supervision we also offer thematic and therapeutic week programs (find more at Services – social services).
Our institution is also involved within the everyday life of our maintainer, the Reformed Congregation of the Great Church of Debrecen: we have held several occasions within the congregation’s community, so to educate both the children and the adult members of the congregation to be open and accepting.
Our teaching program bears its specialty even in its name: rehabilitating education program, which greatly involves habilitation and rehabilitation. The program features the specific education goals, methods and tools in accordance with the directive on the education of the severely disabled. In order to improve the students’ skills and abilities, we also organise workshops and therapeutic activities beside the regular subject-based classes, such as animal-assisted therapy, special education swimming, alternative communication class, singing bowl therapy, musical and dance activities, as well as wheelchair training course. There is a great need for such activities.
Those severely disabled students, who are not studying in a developmental education and rehabilitation institution in accordance with the directive on the developmental education of the severely disabled, they study as private students of the Ferenc Kölcsey Practice Primary School of the Reformed Church and in accordance with the directive on the education of the severely-disabled and handicapped (32/2012 EMMI 2nd annex 2.2.7), also within a complex developmental, and therapeutic environment.
The Reformed Congregation of the Great Church of Debrecen, Immanuel Home and Developmental Education School was one of the first to introduce the education and developmental education of the severely disabled students (later: developmental education and care). For this reason, as well as thanks to several of our innovative programs, we also function as a kind of regional and national-level centre for special education methodology. We have received many invitations to organise conferences and professional conventions so to disseminate our educational experiences, which are highly regarded in our profession. Our building has great infrastructural facilities and accessibility for the purposes of the institution. The special communication devices (alternative and augmentative communication – AAC devices) that we acquired through tender are available for lending to any institutions or private individuals within the region. The Home Assistance Service (previously known as “FECSKE”) offers professional childcare service at home for families with disabled children.
One of the declared goals of our institution, beside the day-to-day educating work, is to raise social awareness and sensitize people to disabled people and their qualities. We firmly believe that we are building a better and more open society, in which we all have our roles and places.