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On 31. 01.2017 Galina Bisset, the Executive Director of Equilibrium, was invited to present the point of view of the NGO community  as a member of  the panel “What change does child-centered monitoring bring?” at the conference organized by the Know-How Centre for Alternative Care for Children, NBU, representation of EQ in Bulgaria and the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria.   

Equilibrium took part in the project of the Know-how Centre within which they developed a quality assurance system for the childcare system. We shared our experience and achievements that lead to changes in the quality of life of children and their families and we tested the indicators that measure them, created by the team of the project. The system called “Child-centered monitoring” is an instrument for understanding the actions of politicians, managers, professionals and families as directly affecting the child. In cooperation with the Agency for Social Assistance this system is being piloted in three regions of the country.

For Equilibrium, participation in this project is a further way in which we work to improve the services we have been managing since 2009 and on which we focused during our project “Evaluation and Self-Evaluation of the Centres for Social Support” 2013 – 2015.

As social service providers, NGOs have interest in researching and improving the outcomes of their work and, in addition, advocacy depends on quality practices. Furthermore, they apply for the management of social services in conditions of competition for a certain period of time which demands constant self-reflection and self-improvement. All this urges NGOs to fully understand the unique qualities of their approach to service provision. By doing this, they show professional responsibility.  

Service providers, who self-evaluate their work, understand their achievements and the context they work in can support the evaluation process – they take care of their professional presentation, they are vigilant and finely tuned according to the changing needs of the community. The self-evaluation turns into a way of life. Success is visualized and pursued. Its analysis serves as a means of improving spheres of work, where higher goals can be set. The feedback from clients is embedded in the system.

We look for and accumulate authentic feedback from children, families, partners and the community. Service providers, who find ways to listen to and preserve the spontaneous and authentic opinions of their clients, can support the evaluation process – they help the service users tell their stories in ways that are easily accessible. There are numerous situations and forms in which sincere feedback can be obtained and they should be acknowledged by those conducting external monitoring.

External monitoring should recognize the organizational features and behavior, which presuppose quality of the services provided. They can look for evidence that the provider is:

  • Service users-oriented – focused on the success which is measured by the results for the children and their families the way the experts articulate them but also the way the users themselves feel and express them.
  • Community-oriented – provides high-impact services, which change communities and revive values such as help and care for the weaker.

The system of indicators, developed under the project of the Know-how Centre, is a good base for routine questioning inside the organization, which can lead to insights and ideas for work improvement – the organizational environment as well as case management. In this way the service provider is prepared to answer the question “Why are they doing what they are doing?” and to defend / protect their point of view. They are always ready for external monitoring – they understand and can present their success and achievements and have different forms of feedback. The process of external monitoring turns into a professional exchange, a discussion, which gives the provider another point of view and motivates them to improve their work.