• English
  • български

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

Method –

  • 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.

The final ideas are summarized in the material ‘Evaluation of Childcare & Family Support Services focusing on the Impact on Beneficiaries –  Inherent Difficulties, Ethics, Key Principles, Suggested Approaches and a Selection of Related Tools‘

Read more…