Implementation Period: July 2013 – May, 2015
Funding: Bulgarian Swiss Cooperation Programme
EQ’s role: leading, in partnership with Open Society – Ruse
Background: There is broad consensus among Bulgarian professionals that “a social service is of good quality when it positively influences the well-being of its users” (BCNP, Quality of the Social Services in Bulgaria, 2008). The government’s monitoring report on deinstitutionalization (2012-2013) acknowledges how a focus on structures as opposed to discrete services has created significant inflexibility in the funding of those services and acted as a barrier to understanding their impact. Impact-based assessment is on the political agenda but, in complex operating environments, identifying the impact of particular interventions is difficult.
Objective: Capacity-building in Bulgaria’s centre of social support (providers of integrated services) in preparation for a paradigm shift in service evaluation.
Focus: Working in 6 demographically and economically diverse districts (Ruse, Montana, Panagyurishte, Veliko Tarnevo, Razgrad & Teteven)
- Accountability – drawing inferences from stories told by service providers / their peers
- Feedback – drawing inferences based on stories from beneficiaries and those members of the community who are somehow related or in proximity to them
- Desk study on impact-based assessment: inherent difficulties, ethics, key principles, suggested approaches & a selection of tools
- Study visits to centres of social support (CSSs)
- Focus groups co-hosted by CSSs
- Testing and refinement of models – Accountability & Feedback
- Presentation of models – service providers / government officers – municipal authorities, child protection, Agency of Social Support, State Agency for Child Protection
- Curatorship model in accountability implanted in strategic locations
- Ambient Awareness model in compiling feedback implanted in strategic locations
- Working partnerships and recruitment of ambassadors for the models
- Comprehensive corpus of material + summary for presentation to government / principle stakeholders
- Identification of 5 key threats to successful transition to impact-based assessment
- List of characteristics of high-impact service providers
Conclusions: An assumption of homogeneity among service users, preoccupation with the universal applicability of working models and a focus on monitoring against minimum standards does not promotes an improvement culture or motivate professionals. We provide a success-oriented approach that caters for diversity and complexity.