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Meeting on Early intervention – an alternative to institutional care

23 June 2013

On June 14th, at Karin Dom was held a meeting at which we presented the results of the research project “Early Childhood Intervention Services for Children with Disabilities in Bulgaria: an alternative to institutional care for 0-3″, undertaken by Karin Dom Foundation in partnership with Open Society Foundation, Sofia.

The research covers issues regarding the role of early intervention among other services for children with disabilities in Bulgaria; the challenges in front of the service providers implementing this practice in the country; and what are the financial and managerial opportunities for the integration of early intervention in the system of services for children with disabilities and their parents, as regulated by the state.

Apostol Apostolov, PhD, and Veselina Vasileva presented a summary of the report and summerized the main recommendations: 

  1. Cooperation is needed between those who work on the Project for social inclusion of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Action Plan of the State Agency for Child Protection - “Vision for deinstitutionalization of children in Bulgaria.”
  2. Budgets should be planned according to the methodologies developed specifically for early intervention services so that funding can be adequate. Mobile teams can be created to overcome resource differences between municipalities.
  3. Support for breastfeeding should be provided at the maternity hospitals because breastfeeding is a key factor in the prevention of abandonment of children and contributes to their health.
  4. NGOs with good practices should be actively involved in the process of deinstitutionalization.

The meeting was attended by representatives of 22 non-governmental organizations, members of the National Network for Children, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Health, Department for Child Protection in Varna and Devnia, Regional Directorate of Social Assistance and Varna Municipality. The discussion covered issues related to the interaction between social and health services, and early intervention services and health services; to the delegation and financing of social services from municipalities and the process of deinstitutionalization. Participants agreed on the idea to create a national policy for early intervention to ensure its sustainability after the completion of Project for social inclusion and the process of deinstitutionalization.

As part of the meeting, the participants had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the activities of the Karin Dom Center and in particular – the work of specialists in the field of early intervention. Karin Dom’s Early Intervention Programme launched in December 2010 and by May 2013 237 children and their families have recieved support throuhg the main service in the program – the home visits. Besides the positive effect on the development of those children, the program has contributed to the significant improvement of the breastfeeding support at two maternity wards; an informal parent support group has been formed; counseling for prevention of abandonment of children with disabilities has shown good results.

Forum participants agreed that early intervention for children with disabilities is not only a good practice, as evidenced by the experience of Karin Dom, but an essential step in the deinstitutionalization process, which has to become a state policy.

Research Report – Early Childhood Intervention Services for Children with Disabilities in Bulgaria: an alternative to institutional care for 0-3

The full report, as well as a short bochure outlining the main points, can be found on the Early Intervention Programme page.