The Support Center for Disabled Children and their Families (EÇADEM) is a center developed by Koç University Faculty of Nursing Faculty Member  Prof. Dr. Ayşe Ferda Ocakçı and Assoc. Dr. Ayfer Aydin, and in which Sarıyer Municipality is a project partner. It was established with the financial support of the Istanbul Development Agency (ISTKA). The sustainability of the EÇADEM project, which was selected among 700 applications by İSTKA, has been ensured by a special protocol signed between Koç University and Sarıyer Municipality in 2015.

EÇADEM aims to protect family integrity and improve the quality of life by providing care and counseling services to disabled children and their families. EÇADEM is the first and only model project in Turkey that deals with the family as a whole, with services for individuals with mental disabilities and their caregivers. It provides guidance to family members affected by this situation by enabling individuals with mental disabilities to participate in social life. In this way, the Istanbul Regional Plan aims to contribute to a “fair, sharing, inclusive and learning society”, which is one of the development axes.

In addition to meeting the daily care and needs of individuals with mental disabilities, the center supports the development of social and emotional skills in a safe environment with psychological counseling. It provides training that facilitates daily life activities, and self-care workshops that provide a space for expression through art and sports. Thus, it is intended to help both disabled people  adapt to society and society accomodate disabled people more easily with the projects it initiates and carries out. Individuals, who are introduced to life outside the home environment at regular intervals, are provided the experience of being a part of society, and have their individual characteristics and skills taken into account.

Another focus of the center is to protect the mental health of family members with mental disabilities and to ensure their social participation. With the consultancy, services and activities developed for family members, it is aimed to alleviate the burden of care, to encourage participation in social life and to make the relations between all family members more sustainable. The aim of this support is to reduce the psychosocial problems, such as burnout, stress, depression, and social isolation of caregiver family members.

Furthermore, the psychosocial support and guidance services EÇADEM provides to siblings with disabilities, and the protection of other children and young people in the family from the risks that this period may bring, is intended to ensure happy, productive and creative individuals of today and the future.

All services provided by EÇADEM to individuals with mental disabilities and their families are free of charge.