Members have all made significant contributions to the process of deinstitutionalisation in Bulgaria and together we work to sustain the initiative and preserve the key principles expressed by the government in its 2010 vision statement.
The coalition hosted a conference on 24th & 25th February entitled “Stories with Happy Endings”.
The event started with expressions of gratitude to the members of the coalition from Maya Manolova, the national ombudsman and Eva Zhecheva, chairperson of the State Agency for Child Protection.
The historical context for deinstitutionalisation and the broad progress to date were described by members of the opening panel – Valya Simeonova, Nafya Shabani and Totj Mladenov all of whom have occupied senior positions in the administration.
The conference was broken into three sections – Prevention of Abandonment, Closing Institutions and Creation of Alternative Services and Increasing the Capacity of the Child Protection System.
Equilibrium’s chairman, David Bisset, was a member of the panel of speakers on capacity building. In his talk, he illustrated how the delivery of the first phase of closures of institutions could seem like a Pyrrhic victory to the frontline service providers that made this happen. Success came at a cost – managerial stress, increased staff turnover and absenteeism and significant problems recruiting people with the requisite skills, experience or qualifications. There was a constant plea for more human and material resource. However, he explained how improved mobility, flexibility and pro-activity among different service providers can ensure better use is made of existing resources and can create more unconventional and creative solutions for children and families. Resources must flow within the system. They cannot be locked inside scattered facilities managed competitively. .