Programme for Support for Children and Families in the Community Aimed at Prevention of Child Institutionalisation
The child care system in Bulgaria is still highly institutionalized. A substantial number of children are placed in social homes around the country. Over 8000 children are currently living in more then 140 specialised institutions for children in Bulgaria. Only a minimal percentage of them do not really have parents. More then half of these children are placed in a social institution immediately after their birth – straight from the maternity hospital. According to the official statistics less then 2000 children have regular contacts with their parents.
There is a risk of increase in the numbers of unemployed people in regard with the current economical crisis. That means that more families will be facing financial difficulties. The experience shows that the number of children in institutions increases in such difficult times. That is especially valid if there are not existing systems for support for children and families.
There is a need of scaling-up the services and the support systems for vulnerable children who are at risk of being placed in institutions because of various reasons like poverty, impossibility or insufficient capacity of the parents to take care of them; violence in the family; dropping out or difficulties at school; behavioural problems; disabilities etc. Such scale-up should be based on expanding the reach of existing efficient programmes and projects as well as initiation and support for new programmes; improving the quality of available services for children and families and popularisation of the good practices in the filed.
Tulip Foundation and Oak Foundation firmly believe that children have the right and the need to grow up in a family environment, safe from violence and neglect. Led by their commitment to the wellbeing of children in Bulgaria Oak Foundation and Tulip Foundation are launching this joint programme for prevention of institutionalization of children.
- To reduce violence, neglect, abuse or abandonment of children;
- To prevent subsequent institutionalisation of children;
- To stimulate adaptation and introduction of different up to date models and practices for supporting children and families based on the potential of children, families and communities;
- To provide demonstrable examples of diverse working strategies and models for community based work with children and families that are applicable in other parts of the country;
- To stimulate early identification and intervention in cases of risk of institutionalisation of children;
- To influence changes in child care practices and regulations in Bulgaria;
- To encourage the participation of the local communities in initiatives and activities aimed at wellbeing of children in family environment.
The aim of the project was to provide quality prevention of abandonment of children with disabilities through creation of a network of parents for contact. The role of the Parent for contac is to listen, to offer understanding, advice and information to parents of newborn children with similar problems so that they are able to care after them better.
The project was aimed at children born with facial malformations and their parents as well as medical specialists at maternal clinics in the country. From May 2009 to the end of 2012 more than 120 families of children with congenital facial abnormalities contacted the parents for contact that were trained in the frame of the project. Out of these some 68 families have looked for information and support numerous times. Not only tens of families form over than 20 towns in the country but also Bulgarian families from Spain and other countries have asked for support.
The activities included creation of a network of 22 parents for contact and delivery of 4 four training courses led by specialists in various subjects. An algorithm for action in case of a birth of a child with disability has been developed on the basis of algorithm for action when a child with a clef mouth has been born. This algorithm has been presented to 34 medical specialists at clinics in the regional centres in South Bulgaria, the Ministry of Health and a Health Commission at the European Parliament.
The Parent for contact model was presented to six civil organisations in Bulgaria; one of these is already applying the model in its work with children with disabilities and their parents.
As a result of the project implementation a child born with facial malformation was not abandoned. Two other children with congenital facial abnormalities placed in institutions for babies in Pleven and Russe were reintegrated with their families. After consultations provide for nine prenatal diagnosed pregnant women none of them went for abortion or abandoned her child later.
ALA Association got involved in an initiative of the European Science Foundation for development of standards for treatment of facial abnormalities on a European level. A representative of the association is taking part in the scientific programme for Bulgaria. It is expected that the algorithm for acting in case of a birth of a child with disability to be included in a standard valid for all European countries. e
Association of Patients with Congenital Facial Abnormalities and their Parents – ALA
66, Pechtersko chausse Bul., fl. 3
Surgical Clinics, Plastic and Craniofacial Surgery Ward
Tel/ fax: +359 32 60 29 35