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adminRuse municipality has developed innovative services for young children and their families and these are to be accommodated in the building that used to house the home for medical care.

The initiative is named “Chance for a Happy Future” and it is part of a package of new integrated services for deinstitutionalization and prevention of abandonment of children aged 0-3. The funding flows through the Operational Programme Human Resources Development 2007 – 2013 that assists the development of community-based services to replace institutional care for babies in 5 pilot communities.

To ensure the sustainability of the services for which there is still no state regulation and funding, the municipal authority signed a memorandum of cooperation the Equilibrium and we will provide the team that will undertake the outreach work with families after the municipal project is completed.

An EQ multidisciplinary team (physiotherapist, social workers and special nurse) will the support of Roma mediators will provide mobile (home-based) support for nursing mothers and newborn babies. Besides monitoring the health of both mother and baby and watching over the infant’s development, the team can help the family access the requisite medical and social support.

In addition to the mobile work with individual families, EQ will provide group sessions in a new facility that is especially equipped for young families.

The first session was very well attended by parents and children from the Selemetya neighbourhood where EQ has a track record of working. This and future sessions will be devoted to exploring early childhood development and providing tips on how to stimulate infants and promote healthy development through play, storytelling, music etc.. Our physiotherapist also demonstrates techniques that support physical development and provides intensive support to families with young children who are demonstrating developmental problems.

Despite the unfamiliarity of the new setting the children, the children had a great time. Our team encourage parent-child interaction that is varied and intensive so as to assist different areas of child development — motor, social, emotional, cognitive, communication autonomy and independent activity. The next step is learning to tell stories in Bulgarian, besides the Roma mother tongue as well as songs and other language games so that children can be optimally prepared for nursery and preschool.

Feedback at the end of the session was very positive and the young parents are motivated to continue the joint work to give their youngsters the best possible start in life..