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From November 5 to 8, an international conference on “Deinstitutionalization of childcare: How do we invest in change?” Was held in the National Palace of Culture – Sofia, attended by over 250 representatives of universities, institutions and non-governmental organizations from Europe, Australia, Central Asia and the United States.

On the first day of the Equilibrium Conference, we presented our successful care model  (one of the hottest topics) – caring for chilren and youth in family-style centres. Galina Bisset – Executive Director of the organization presented the successful approach “Inside Out, or for the Meaning of Human Presence” through the movie “Flowers from Paradise”.

The film presents the stories of children housed at the family-style centre in Bylala (after removal from large residential institutions), which Equilibrium has been managing since 2016.

The name of the approach is borrowed from the organization’s eponymous publication http://eq-bg.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Otvatrenavan_FINAL.pdf on the problems and successes with the children in this centre who set the team and leadership straight the challenge of helping children who did not believe in anyone because of their difficult family histories and adverse circumstances throughout their childhood.

However, we succeeded because we believed in them, because they trusted us and together we walked an difficult but satisfying path that gave them more confidence and enthusiasm for their own future.

The international conference presented a successful model of deinstitutionalization, which has taken place in Bulgaria, despite the difficulties and problems along the way. This model shows that the efforts of state, local institutions, NGOs and the general public can be combined in the best interests of the children of Bulgaria. It has become clear that we are on the right track and that we are at a stage that requires a serious analysis of what has been done so far so that we can properly plan the next steps in this process.

For the organization of the international conference on this very important topic, the efforts of state institutions and NGOs were united: the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy of the Republic of Bulgaria, Know-how Center for Alternative Child Care, New Bulgarian University, Cedar Foundation, UNICEF, SOS Children’s Villages, Eurochild, Hope and Homes for Children, Lumos Foundatio