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The “Equilibrium” and “Children and Space” associations hosted a focus group led by an international consultant on March 29th, 2018 in Ruse.

The focus group and the visit of Dr. Emily Vargas-Baron were hosted by the National Network for Children, on a project launched at the end of last year. The project “Putting the Puzzle: Sustainable Family-Oriented Approach and Early Intervention in Bulgaria” of the NNC is supported by grants from the “Open Society Institute” Foundation in cooperation with the “Early Childhood Program” of the “Open Society” Foundations. The project aims to mobilize the efforts and resources of the non-governmental sector, international organizations, donors, national and local authorities and all stakeholders working in the field of early intervention and to unite them in a common advocacy and communication strategy related to policies and the legal regulation of early intervention in the country.

The focus groups in Ruse and several other cities in the country are aimed at assessing the needs of the legal and political framework of early intervention in the country, putting forward suggestions and recommendations for its improvement in order to achieve sustainability and quality of early intervention services. The evaluation will be carried out by Dr. Emily Vargas-Baron, Head of the RISE Institute and International Consultant and Researcher in Early Childhood Development and Early Childhood Intervention and Education with a focus on developing and implementing national policies in this field.

In Ruse the focus group was held in the hall of the United Children’s Services “Slancho”. Representatives of the Directorate of “Health and Social Activities” of the Municipality of Ruse took part in the event as well as representatives of the Department of Child Protection at Ruse, representatives of the Maternity Center and children’s health from the Medical Center of Ruse and the “Equilibrium” and “Children and Space” teams, which are the two main organizations in the city providing early childhood development services and early intervention services.

During the focus group there was an evaluation of the availability of early childhood services at municipal and district level as well as the needs for developing missing services such as patronage care and others with an increased focus on the mobility of this type of family assistance activity, raising children at an early age.

There was also a need to create academic specialties that professionally and collectively train staff on topics related to early childhood development and early intervention.

Dr. Emily Vargas-Baron evaluated with a high grade the services of the Municipality of Ruse and the ones she attended, managed by “Equilibrium” and “Children and Space”. She had the chance to meet  with parents of children with disabilities at the Day Care Center for Children with Disabilities at  “Slancho”, as well as with a family whose child is being raised within the innovative service run by “Equilibrium” – a family-type placement center for children and young people with disabilities and the need of permanent medical attention.

The research and outline recommendations will be discussed and validated by stakeholders at a dedicated national round table, which will be organized by the National Network for Children.