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008(17)The final event summarized the results of advocacy campaigns, focus groups and surveys in several cities in the country, one of which was Ruse.

Over a period of 2 months (April – May, 2015). EQ organized an advocacy campaign relating to the development of a family policy to safeguard the welfare of children in Ruse. During the campaign, we held interactive sessions with members of the Roma community during which we explored the difficulties with existing practices in support of families. Themes were wide-ranging – health, education, employment and income support, housing, social assistance and child benefit, social and municipal services.

In parallel, intensive interviews were conducted with 12 representatives from the fields of education, social services, health and employment.

An analysis of the results of the focus group and this survey based on interviewing key professionals were presented at a roundtable in Ruse in June.

Analysis showed that many of the current policies in support of children and families in Bulgaria are not sufficiently effective especially with regard to the availability of employment programmes and the preparation of Roma children for school.

Those who participated in the focus groups referred to social and administrative barriers that they identified as major problems – low levels of literacy in the community and the lack of employment opportunities together with social   marginalization and the closed nature of the community. A change is needed, more flexibility in all systems affecting the welfare of children and families at local and national level.

The project of the National Network for Children made use of a financial assistance available via the 

thematic fund agreement- “Reform Fund linked to Civil Society Participation” under the Bulgarian Swiss Cooperation Programme.