Trust in the Family Closing Conference, Sofia, 20 November
Tulip Foundation and UniCredit Bulbank organized closing conference in the frame of Trust ion the Family Programme on 20 November 2013 at UniCredit Bulbank Central Hall. Some 30 representatives of the State Agency for Child Protection, Agency for Social Assistance, Ministry of Social Policy and civil organisations from various places from around the country participated in the conference.

The team of Tulip Foundation and the local partners from Opportunity and Protection Association in Haskovo presented the development and the results from the implementation of the project in Bulgaria. The activities are focused on introduction of an up-to-date democratic and effective model for supporting children and families – family group conference which is widely used in Europe in the last years. 

Victoria Blajeva, Head of PR and Corporate Communication at UniCredit Bulbank greeted the participants and received congratulation for the annual award of the Bulgarian Donor’s Forum for The best Partnership with Tulip Foundation in realizing the Trust in the Family project. She shared the position if the team of UniCredit Bulbank that cooperation is important for the society as a way for reaching sustainable positive impact. The partnership between Tulip Foundation and UniCredit Bulbank is a successful example for united efforts and clearly defined roles in demonstrating effective practical working models that can be applied all around the country. 

Maria Petkova from Tulip Foundation spoke about the significance of the Trust in the Family and presented the policy of the foundation for a targeted setting up of sustainable programmes for social development and the role of the foundation in introduction of the new model of support for children and families. She justified the social and financial effectiveness of the model based on mobilizing the available resources and opportunities of the families and presented the concept of the Family Group Conference. 

Malina Slavova, chair of Opportunity and Protection Association Haskovo, presented the family group conferences as „Difficulties, successes and emotional experience” of the team in Haskovo region which implemented the pilot introduction of the model in practice. She illustrated her presentation with various practical examples most of which were interesting unusual solutions of concrete needs of children decided and implemented by their families. 

Galina Markova, researcher form the New Bulgarian University and Know How centre for alternative care presented an independent analysis of the social impact of the programme as a series of answers to the questions “Why family group conferences organized in the system created by Opportunity and Protection Association system recreate the shattered trust in the family and how that changes the participants?”. The presentation included observations and conclusions about the changes in attitudes of specialists and families, numerous examples and concrete recommendations for the further development of the method in Bulgaria. 

Practical experience from the point of view of social and educational institutions presented Zara Kostadinova, Head of Child Protection Department and Illiana Toteva from Vaptzarov mainstream school in Haskovo. Both of them answered numerous questions raised by the participants. 

Nadia Angelova, social worker at the Child Protection Department in Haskovo and first winner of the Opportunity and Protection award for the Most Active Referrer shared her impressions from the practical functioning of the model thru the eyes of a referring specialist. The experience of the independent coordinators in working with specialists and families was presented by Hristina Masaldjieva, an active independent coordinators of FGC. 

The participants at the conference raised various concrete questions about the practical application of family group conferences, the cases when a FGC is appropriate, consideration of a potential risk for a child, the concerns of the team, the factors for success, the procedure for referring families and organisation of a FGC. The members of the team from Haskovo, representatives of the Child Protection Department, local schools and independent coordinators shared practical experiences and impressions.

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