Educational Opportunities for Children with Developmental Delays and Disabilities

The following information was compiled by the Child Protection and Education Working Groups, and it was reviewed by the Ministry of Interior, Department of Public Education Administration. It aims to provide guidance to parents of children with developmental delays and disabilities to assert their rights and access relevant services.

Kattintson ide magyar nyelvű információért

What is child development and what does it mean to have developmental delay or disability?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines child development as a dynamic process that encompasses physical, cognitive, social, and emotional components. It involves acquiring and improving various skills, progressing from complete dependence on parents to relative independence in childhood and later adolescence. (1) 

Developmental delay occurs when a child does not achieve developmental milestones in comparison to peers of the same age range.  

Having a developmental delay does not mean that the child has a disability. Developmental delay can be an impairment that might be temporary, and the child will be able to catch up with their peers.  

Having a disability is defined by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as having a long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment that – in interaction with the environment – hinders one’s participation in society on an equal basis with others. Children and adolescents with disabilities are a highly diverse group with wide-ranging life experiences. (2) 


What shall I do if I am concerned about the development of my child?

It is important to identify the developmental delays of a child as early as possible. Early intervention services help children to catch up with their peers as soon as possible.  

You know your child best, if you have some concerns about your child`s development, it is better to have it checked.   

You can talk first to your pediatrician or to the district nurse, and teachers of your child if you notice any signs of possible developmental delay or disability. You can also turn to the Pedagogical Assistance Services, as a second step.  

How do I find a pediatrician?

Based on your residence, you can choose the closest pediatrician; this is the local practice because travelling with a sick child is complicated. In addition, if home visit is needed, it is easier for the closest doctor.  But you can choose any pediatrician, if you prefer.  

If you wish, you can also change pediatrician once a year without justification, and multiple times with justification (e.g moving to a new place).  

You can use THIS LINK to search for a doctor.

What is the district nurse /health visitor service and how can I reach out?

A district nurse is a highly qualified health practitioner. Amongst many other duties, a district nurse provides counselling to parents on the healthy development of children and support parents to find relevant services, especially focusing on children between the age of 0 to 6 years old. Within this age range, the district nurse regularly meets the families. It is advised for parents to have regular contact with the district nurse. You might need the documents of these visits to the nursery, kindergarten and school, and her opinion about your child matters at social affairs authorities. 

You can use THIS website to search for a district nurse based on your current address (doesn`t need to be a registered permanent address). To the `Település` row please put your ZIP code (4 digits) and to the `Utca` please insert the name of your street.

What is the Pedagogical Assistance Service?

This is a county level institution with experts like psychologists, special educators, speech therapists, adapted physical educators who assess your child`s potential developmental delays and disabilities. At the end of this procedure it gives an official expert opinion.  Some cases they offer services, can do therapies, individual or group developments, in more complex disability cases, they refer your child to special educational institution.  

Every county (and Budapest Capital) has a Pedagogical Assistance Service Institution, which has a sub-institution and units in every district. These are under unified leadership and professional protocols. The Pedagogical Assistance Services’ duties include:  

  • (a) special educational counselling, early development and care (early intervention and prevention) 
  • (b) expert committee activities,  
  • (c) educational counselling,  
  • (d) speech therapy,  
  • (e) study and career counselling,  
  • (f) conductive pedagogical care,  
  • (g) adapted physical education,  
  • (h) school psychology, kindergarten psychology,  
  • (i) promotion of particularly talented learners. 

How can the services of the Pedagogical Assistance Services be accessed?

The procedure of the Pedagogical Assistance Service may be initiated: 

  1. ex officio,
  2. at the request of the parent,
  3. and with the consent of the parent at the initiative of
    1. the educational institution (kindergarten or school),
    2. the operator of the family and child welfare service, family and child welfare centre, nursery, children’s home, regional child protection service or foster parent network under the scope of Act XXXI of 1997 on Child Protection and Guardianship Administration,
    3. the nursing home of disabled persons, the rehabilitation institution of disabled persons and the day care institution of disabled persons under the scope of Act III of 1993 on Social Governance and Social Benefits.

One option is that the kindergarten or the school (educational institution) send a request for an assessment of the child based on the suspicion of special needs (SNI/BTMN) because of their potential developmental delays or disability. This must happen with the agreement of the parent. In case the parent does not agree, the educational institution can still initiate an assessment, and the parent might be obliged by the authorities. 

The other option is that the parent requests the assessment, but in this case as well, it is always advised to do so in consultation with the educational institution. However, being enrolled into a Hungarian educational institution is not a requirement.  

This is a free service for temporary protection status holders and third country nationals with residence cards, they provide translators.  You can also use private services for the assessment, but they are not free of charge and aren’t entitled to issue official expert opinion (see below).

What if a child is under 3 years old and does not attend kindergarten yet?

The Pedagogical Services are still available and can be approached either by the parent, the nursery or the district nurse/health visitor service.   

Pedagogical Assistance Services offer early detection and early childhood interventions („special educational counselling, early development and care”) for children with developmental delays and disabilities that have crucial importance in helping children with better outcomes throughout their life course.

What will the Pedagogical Assistance Services do?

As you can see above, one of the duties of the Pedagogical Assistance Services, is the expert committee activities. The professional diagnostical committee of the county level pedagogical assistance service intstitution shall draw up an expert opinion on the basis of their complex psychological, pedagogical-special educational, and medical examination, and shall make suggestions, based on the results of the examinations, as to the education of children/students with special education needs or facing difficulties in integration, learning or behaviour within the framework of special treatment, as well as the method, form and place of education. 

If the child/student has “conduct, integration or learning difficulty” or “special education needs”, the professional diagnostical committee shall conduct an official review procedure one academic year later. After this first review, the review procedure is repeated in every second year until the student reaches the age of ten, and then in every third year until the age of sixteen. The parent may initiate the review procedure at any time. 

Shortly, the expert committee of the relevant Pedagogical Assistance Service will assess the child. Based on the result of this official expert opinion, the child might receive special needs status, that is either SNI or BTMN (please see the explanations under the next question).  

This creates an obligation for the educational institution of the child to provide the necessary development sessions for the child. It also creates an obligation for the parents to cooperate and take the child to the developmental sessions.  

Parents can select the educational institution that provides appropriate education for students with special educational needs on the basis of the relevant committee’s expert opinion, in consideration of the needs and the possibilities of parents and children. The professional diagnostical committee informs the parent based on the list of kindergartens and schools in which the child with special educational needs can take part in early development and care, kindergarten education and fulfil compulsory education. The public educational institution is chosen by the parent from the institutions recommended by the professional diagnostical committee.  After it, the Pedagogical Assistance Service assign the kindergarten or school for the child based on the best interest of the child. If the parent disagrees with this decision, the parent can appeal to the education district. 

What is `BTMN` and `SNI`?

Child or pupil with a learning, behavioural or integration difficulties (BTMN): a child or pupil with special needs who, according to the opinion of the expert committee of the Pedagogical Assistance Service, is lacking behind compared to their peers in certain areas, has difficulties with social relationships, with learning or with their behaviour.  The needs of this child are not reaching the level of the `SNI` category.  

Child or pupil with special educational needs (SNI): a child or pupil with special educational needs who, according to the opinion of the expert committee of the Pedagogical Assistance Service, has a motor, sensory, intellectual or speech disability, a cumulative disability, an autism spectrum disorder or other mental development disorder (severe learning, attention or behavioural difficulties). 

It is the right of the child with developmental delays and disabilities to receive developmental pedagogical or special educational services according to their needs. As it was mentioned before, these needs are established by the expert committee based on their assessment.

What services might be provided to the child?

Developmental pedagogical service is a pedagogical activity for the child or pupil with a learning, behavioural or integration difficulties (BTMN): in the framework of developmental pedagogical care, the student’s subject catching-up is carried out by the teacher corresponding to the subject, and skill development is carried out by the developmental teacher. Developmental teachers are typically employed by kindergarten or schools. 

Special educational service (officially: compulsory healthcare and pedagogical habilitation and rehabilitation): is a pedagogical activity for the child or pupil with a special education needs (SNI) which is carried out by the special educators. Educational institutions (kindergartens and schools) involved in special education must employ special educators. If it is not possible, the special educators with appropriate professional qualifications may also be provided through the mobile network of special educators. Mobile special educator is an expert, who employed by the mobile network and perform their duties regularly outside the location of their employer. The duty of the mobile network of special educators shall be to provide experts with appropriate professional qualification as required for the education of children / students with special education needs for educational institutions, in case the educational institution does not dispose of an expert having special educator to be employed.

How can I reach out to a Pedagogical Assistance Service?

In case a child is already enrolled in an educational institution, and s/he experiences problems according to the teachers or the parents, it is advised to consult with this institution who can also support with the further steps. In addition, as it was mentioned before, the best way is to discuss the situation with the pediatrician and the district nurse. 

Otherwise contacts for the Pedagogical Assistance Services can be found here (with links): 

For general information on school enrolment and for contacts of organizations who can support you please see the helpsite of UNHCR.   

Can I access the services of the Pedagogical Assistance Service if I only speak Ukrainian?

The assessment of your child can be requested to happen in Ukrainian, however, for general communication and administration it is likely that you will need Hungarian. 

You can ask the kindergarten or the school to support your family in this process.  

You can also request a translation service of IOM by filling in THIS FORM. 

What documents are necessary to access these services?

Children with temporary protection status has equal rights to access medical, early intervention and development services as Hungarian nationals.  

Instead of TAJ number (social/health insurance number), the temporary protection card number is used during the pedagogical services.  In case the card is expired, you need to refer to the Gov. Decree 58/2023. (II. 28.) that extends the validity of this card for a year. You can find HERE more information on this.   

According to the Public Educational Act, temporary protection status holders are entitled for pedagogical services without an address card. 

Does my child need to be enrolled in the Hungarian system?

Being enrolled to the Hungarian system is not a requirement. As mentioned above, you can directly reach out to the Pedagogical Assistance Service and they can also advise you on enrollment.  

For general information on school enrolment and for contacts of organizations who can support you please see the helpsite of UNHCR.

Useful links (in Hungarian)