About the Association

Fragment from 2013 Annual Report

…Who would say we’ve been together for twenty three years now, from which twenty under the name Children First!
Helping Children and Families, the Association was founded and registered in January 1991, in the time when danger of war was already inevitable.
And in time when families of first war victims arrived, we were ready. During 1992, we provided food, medicine and medical supplies, helped with accommodation and organized psychosocial support for severely traumatized families. We brought some of the best experts in psychology to Croatia, specialized in work with war-affected children. Together we travelled, organized lectures, seminars, and individual therapy sessions, learning from each other along the way. Then in 1993 and 1994, our main programs focused on providing psychosocial support for mothers and children in need. During these years, our main donors were British, Swedish and Norwegian “Save the Children” Associations. Over seventy experts in various fields – psychologists, social workers, doctors and pedagogues worked together to provide the best quality programs. In 1994, Helping Children and Families our Association reorganized, but continued providing and upgrading its programs – now under the name Children First.

Blanka Šegović El Khalifa, President of the Children First Association

The Association Children First, through an informal organisation of members, started its work already in 1991. As a non-governmental, non-profit association, formally it was established in 1994. Children First was one of the first associations in Croatia which, together with the collection and distribution of humanitarian aid, has created and implemented programmes and non-institutional social services and has participated in advocating, creating and monitoring the implementation of a number of relevant public policies in the area of child and family protection and civil society development.

The Association is nowadays working with children, young people and families, especially those who live in risk conditions. It designs and implements psychosocial and educational programmes/ projects based on the needs of children and young people, who actively involve the whole family as well as professionals in the educational system and the social welfare system. In addition to direct work with the beneficiaries, the Association initiates and implements many activities aimed at mobilizing the state and local institutions and civil society organizations in ensuring the quality of protection of children, young people and families in Croatia and beyond.

The organizational structure

The organizational structure of the Association “Children First” includes its Assembly, an Executive Board, the President and the Executive Director.Currently there are eight professionals working in the Association. For the implementation of certain programmes and projects, other professionals of different profiles – psychologists, pedagogues, social pedagogues, social workers and special educators are also engaged, as well as volunteers that have a great contribution to the work of the Association.


A responsible society that provides conditions for safe and complete development of children.


We strengthen the potentials of children, young people and families and take care of socially excluded ones, connecting the entire community to a quality and sustainable development of the society.

Values and principles of action

Key words that reflect the principles of the Association’s activities are: humanity, respect for others and different, dignity and expertise.

The Association “Children First” promotes the value of a society focused on children based on the values of social sensitivity and fairness, tolerance, non-discrimination, respect for diversity and equal rights of all citizens in accordance with democratic, human and children’s rights.

Its activities are based on the work for general good that is in line with the needs of the beneficiaries. The Association’s work is highly professional, based on scientific knowledge and in accordance with national strategies and laws of the Republic of Croatia, as well as the European regulatory framework for the protection of children’s rights and the reduction of poverty and social exclusion.

Working with beneficiaries, the basic principles of work are holistic perspective, individualized and family approach, empowering beneficiaries to play a responsible and active role in addressing the difficulties they face and the right to self-determination.

In order to contribute more efficiently to the development of a society focused on the well-being of children, the development of cohesion and social capital, the Association is focused on networking and cooperation for the purpose of promotion of good practice and mutual learning, integrated approach and volunteering, and the development of social innovations.


Our beneficiaries are children, young people and their parents, and a significant part of the services are aiming at supporting families at risk. Through the non-institutional education, our beneficiaries are also the employees in the educational system, social welfare system and the civil society organizations.