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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithin the project of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP) “Transnational network to support children and families and the deinstitutionalization of childcare” EQ was selected as one of 15 organisations (out of 50) that exhibit best practices  in prevention of child abandonment and early intervention for children with developmental problems.

The project was undertaken in collaboration with organizations and institutions from Italy that are engaged in policy development for children and the final conference took place in Sofia on April, 24th 2015. The results of the two-year project were presented including a comparative analysis of deinstitutionalization and development of childcare in the two countries.

Unlike Bulgaria, Italy passed a law to close down all institutions for children as early as 2001 and the whole process was completed within 5 years – in 2006. Now the biggest challenge faced by the Italian childcare system is immigration especially as unaccompanied children represent a sizeable proportion of immigrants.

The impetus behind deinstitutionalization in Bulgaria derives from 2010 when the country started implementation of an Action Plan linked to the Vision for Deinstitutionalisation of Children in Bulgaria that was adopted by the National assembly in that year. EQ is an active participant in this process both at local and national level. Our work in the areas of prevention of abandonment and early intervention involves interrelated programmes delivered via Ruse’s social services complex. These integrated services entail interventions at the local maternity hospital in the contexts of both preventing abandonment of newborns and supporting families of children with special needs. The family support we offer is comprehensive and holistic and is linked to mobile work in the community to improve health awareness for women at risk and marginalized groups in terms of family planning, tracking of their pregnancy to reduce the risk of giving birth to children with disabilities and improving parental competence in caring for rearing and educating young children.

Our profound belief in the right of every child to grow up in a family or family-like environment naturally leads us to place great emphasis on the role of the parent and focus on supporting parents to build on their strengths and competences..

EQ’s model of good practice will feature in a special publication of the MLSP that is to be published and distributed nationally within a month.