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EQ has strong links with Moldova and during 2015 we hosted a visit by a group from the country’s capital, Chisinau. The visit was facilities by colleagues and friends from the organisation CCF-Moldova and representatives were drawn from the city’s child protection system.

During the course of the three-day working visit, the delegates visited an innovative new facility in Gabrovo offering integrated social and healthcare services for mothers and babies. The process of deinstitutionalization is in progress in both Moldova and Bulgaria and community-based options for infants was a special area of focus.

Our Moldovan colleagues showed great interest in the weekly playgroup that is hosted in the Ruse complex and they also took part in one of our informal meetings for mothers and infants.

A meeting with our group of foster parents and the municipal authority’s foster care team allowed a comparison between the systems in the two countries. In Moldova, the model of group foster care is well developed. Families can care for between 3 and 7 children in total (including their own biological children) and the professional foster parent is not only remunerated but also received financial support to cover household costs that relate to childcare.

The visitors were impressed by our pioneering work in placing children with significant special needs with foster families and the manner in which the team at the complex cooperate with the foster care team and child protection department to provide the families with comprehensive support.

Our guests were intrigued by the complex array of activities offered through the Ruse complex where social services are integrated – a centre of social support is linked to a centre for street children and emergency placement unit and the Pink House – our small-group home for children with disabilities – benefits from its being part of the network.

A strong working relationship between Ruse and Chisinau has been built over the years and departures always entail the exchange of gifts and discussion of plans for the future. We learn from one another, share successes and discuss problems. We’ll get together again in 2016 that’s for sure.