The Power of Family and Community Programme is planned as an instrument for empowering parents, families and communities so that they have the knowledge, the skills and the capacity to protect their children from violence and neglect and to provide them with opportunities for full development good prospects for their future. It is a continuation and development of a joint three years programme of Tulip Foundation and Oak Foundation aimed at building the capacity of local civil organisations to support children and families so to prevent violence, maltreatment, neglect and placement of children in social institutions.
Thousands of families in Bulgaria are not able to provide their children with opportunities for full development (and early childhood development), due to various reasons - poverty, lack of relevant support and appropriate services, prenatal programmes, local facilities for children with disabilities, day care for children aged 0 to 3/5 years, lack of parenting skills etc. Poverty is often an objective reason for children to lag behind and have limited chances in a long term.
Significant numbers of children are at risk of perpetuate poverty. Paternalistic models are strong which leads to lack of attention to children’s rights, needs and chances for full development. Child marriages, teenage pregnancies, children not going to school looking to look younger children in the family are still practices. The social system is again based on strict regulations, assessment of parental capacity and sanctions, rather than on support and empowerment for children, parents and communities.
From practical work over the last years we learned that there is a space and need for activities for empowerment of parents and families in inclusive, non-stigmatizing, non-disciplining and non-discriminative manner - by providing professional support in all areas of developmental needs of children in a friendly, safe and participative environment. There are organisations that understand these needs and have developed initial practices for empowering children and their families.
Over the last years, we witnessed a rapidly growing interest and involvement of fathers and other men in care for children as a result of different types of activities of NGOs targeting men and families. More opportunities for involving boys and men in a participatory manner exist that would contribute to empowerment of children, men, entire families and communities.
Recent researches show that despite of their living conditions, children from disadvantaged communities aged 0 to 5 with access to early childhood development services do catch up to a high degree and compensate differences in cognitive and emotional development due to social deprivation. Early age is most important for development of children, and interventions during it are most effective. We also learned that there are various practical ways for involving parents, extended families and communities in themes and initiatives for children.
The concept is to provide support and empowerment to parents, families and communities. This is a second round of the programme. A number of supported projects are implemented for a second year. With this programme we plan to:
• Support and stimulate development of models and practices for empowerment of people and communities;
• Stimulate civil organisations to work with children and families for inclusion and support not only in social services;
• Demonstrate together with our partners working successful practices that might be disseminated around the country;
• Provoke changes in practices and policies for care for children through evidence from evaluated projects of supported organisations;
• Encourage and support civil organisation working with children to understand and include in their daily work the principles: Child rights based, Child participation, Non-discrimination, Best interests of the child, Respecting and building on strengths and Do no harm;
• contribute to equal opportunities for children from birth to school age and prevention of negative effects of poverty and lack of parenting skills on welfare and educational development of children by providing support for families in underdeveloped communities.
The aims of the programme are:
• To contribute to information, inclusion, empowerment of families children and communities so to prevent / reduce violence, neglect, not sufficient care and risks for separating children from their families;
• To influence the development of effective practices and policies for care for children, based on evidence from tested and documented working models;
• To stimulate programmes for early childhood development of children from underdeveloped communities by adapting, implementing and documenting pilot models of the Sure Start programme in various municipalities by local organisations.
Tulip Foundation will provide financial support and expertise for projects directly focused on reaching the states aims of the programme. These will be selected in a competition with two rounds – a concept and a full project application. More detailed information is available in Bulgarian language.