On June 15, 2016 at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia was held the discussion titled “Investing early: the strengthening systems for early childhood development in Bulgaria”, organized by the World Bank and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.
The aim of the event was to discuss the experience of Bulgaria by the implementation of the project for Social integration, supported by the World Bank, worth approximately 62 million BGN, as well as the evaluation of the project “Ready for school”, supported by the Trust for social alternative. The meeting also was intended to promote the discussion on how Bulgaria can increase and improve its education and support in the early childhood, as well as policies and practices in the field of early childhood development. Participants in the event were representatives of the responsible institutions, local authorities, international and civil society organizations, working with children and parents in Bulgaria.
The program included presentations of the project for social integration and the achieved results on the project, the evaluation of the project “Ready for school”, carried out by the World Bank, presentations of the Tundzha municipality and the municipality of Burgas, as well as a panel discussion with representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the National Association of Municipalities in Republic of Bulgaria, UNICEF and Karin Dom Foundation.
Zvezdelina Atanasova from Karin Dom stresses the importance of services, training and support requirements of professionals working in them and the importance of family-oriented approach. She shared that the Karin Dom is currently developing a new model of intervention – family-mediated support, in which parents are taught how to support their children. Specialists in Bulgaria are still focusing on the disability of the child, rather than on the development of its strengths. The family-oriented approach is a new philosophy, the successful application of which requires a change of the mindset and obtaining new skills for attraction of the parent as a partner. For this purpose Bulgaria must have a university education in the field of early intervention, which will improve the quality of the work of the specialists with children with special needs from 0 to 3 years.
Zvezdelina Atanasova also said that the municipality of Varna is the first municipality in Bulgaria, which has delegated funding for support of 40 children, as a part of early intervention services.
The Deputy Minister of labour and social policy – Mrs. Denitsa Sacheva said that investments in the full growth of children are the top priority of the Ministry of labour and social policy. The ambition of the Ministry is aimed at introducing an entirely new and integrated approach in caring for children, aimed at the prevention of the risks still in infancy, early intervention, providing family or close to the family environment for every child, including the active work with the extended family.