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On 3rd and 4th October, David Bisset attended a conference organized by UNICEF and the National Network for Children. The conference enabled participants drawn from a number of disciplines to reflect on the challenges involved in building a system for Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) in Bulgaria that provides effective screening for signs of delayed development, disability, learning difficulty or familial risk and mobilizes groups of professionals to support the family.

Presiding over the event was Emily Vargas-Baron, a highly experienced practitioner from the USA who is playing a key role in helping Bulgaria develop a ECI strategy and framework for development.

Emily placed great emphasis on training, training and more training and on exposure to progressive models in other countries. While applauding the contribution of the NGO sector dedication and skill of practitioners in healthcare, education and social services, Emily stressed the need for specialists in early childhood development and early intervention who are likely to hold managerial roles at local, regional and national level.

Professor Anna-Maria Serano provided insight into the development of family centres in her home country of Portugal together with the operational and legal frameworks that regulate their operation.

Professor Manfred Pretiss from Germany helped participants understand the characteristics of trans-disciplinary teams operating with the family at the heart of the arrangement. He emphasized the need to closely with parents, siblings and other care providers both in the home and a variety of institutional and community settings – family centres, health clinics and therapy centres, social services and nurseries and kindergartens. Within the professional team, any individual can take on the role of leader / coordinator depending on the circumstances of the case and / or the preferences of the child and family and information should flow freely throughout the team meaning that it must be intelligible to all professionals and – more importantly – family members.

Members of the team from Karin Dom hosted a session during which they emphasized the need for a unified basis of assessment for children in the context of Early Childhood Intervention.

With its broad international profile, having developed the country’s first family centre and with significant experience in early intervention, Equilibrium has a significant role to play,