On 27th and 28th of March Mrs. Emily Vargas-Baron – Director of RISE institute, Washington and expert in Early Childhood Intervention (ECI), visited Varna and had series of meetings with professionals and parents in Varna Municipality and in Karin dom. Her visit was part of a large-scale tour around Sofia, Varna and Rousse with the purpose of studying the existing policy framework and services and the possibilities for development of ECI system in Bulgaria.
Her visit was an initiative of the National Network for Children, with whom Karin dom is partnering under a project for a unified and sustainable ECI system. The project goal is conducting a uniform advocacy and communication strategy in connection to the policies and legal regulations of the Early Childhood Intervention in the country.
At the discussion on 27th of March organized by Varna Municipality together with the National Network for Children and Karin dom, participated health workers, midwives and mediators, representatives of the maternity hospitals, Medical University, Child Protection Department, Social Activities and Healthcare Directorates at Varna Municipality.
„The work with children needs to be interdisciplinary and to include all sectors. Good coordination and support from a single administration is extremely important. Varna is successful because you have the support from the Municipality to do your job!” – shared Mrs. Vargas-Baron.
Emily Vargas-Baron spoke about child rights and the work at all levels of education: “It is crucial for all teams and people engaged with children, to cooperate with each other in order to be effective. Here we mean the NGO sector, foundations, church organizations, universities. A plan has to be developed for training of professionals in the field of early intervention. We need more specialists for this work and for delivering services in child’s natural environment. In the case when the child goes to a nursery or preschool, not only the parents, but also the staff there needs to be engaged. Early intervention has best results when the intervention is provided in child’s natural environment through repeated routine activities. In this way 7 out of 10 children leave the program and don’t need additional services later because they have caught up with their peers!” – added Mrs. Vargas-Baron.
The early intervention specialists need to make visits in childcare settings as well as in child’s home where they provide support to parents and staff. They assess child’s strengths, set expectations and work from the current level of development of the child.
During the meeting in Varna, Mrs. Vargas-Baron pointed out the expertise of Karin dom and gave recommendations about the development of a National strategic plan with all sectors involved. The rules and regulations to be developed will be based on the experience of those working in Varna, Rousse and Sofia.
Mrs. Vargas-Baron visited Karin dom and expressed her admiration for the devotion of the staff to their work with children. She shared about the ECI model in Georgia and gave valuable feedback to the team. The meeting with the parents was emotional, too. They shared their experience with the ECI program and received encouragement form Mrs. Vargas-Baron who will continue to help with establishment of sustainable policies for early childhood development in our country.
Photo: National Network for Children