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Consultations, additional support, emergency admission of children – these are just some of the activities that the Complex for social services for children and families, managed by NGO Equilibrium and Open Society Club – Ruse, achieved in the restructuring of the Home for medical and social care for children – Ruse.

During 2012r, 61 women received comprehensive advice on a variety of subjects relating to childbirth – family planning, contraception, caring for your first child, social assistance and domestic relationships. We focused on priority target groups – mothers who could potentially abandon their babies and those who were experiencing serious financial and social problems that would place a newborn in jeopardy. We provided additional material support to some families to help them out of crisis situations.

Regrettably, three children needed to be placed in the home for medical and social care. One child was severely disabled. Adoption was seen as the best option for the other two.

In 2012, 10 infants were placed for a period of one month in our emergency unit. This gives us time to work on family rehabilitation and consider options in the best interests of the children. Five children were returned to their families, one was adopted and four were placed with foster families (two were subsequently adopted).

During 2012, we supported the successful reintegration of five children from the home for medical and social care. Additionally, we supported the placement of two newborn straight into foster families and also the transfer of a child from the home into foster care.

During January 2013, two other children were transferred from institutional care to foster care and, currently, three other cases are worked on. The children were all disabled or suffering from chronic illnesses. One disabled toddler was transferred from the home to our small group home known as the Pink House.

All the above actions were part of our work in support of the re-structuring of Ruse’s home for the medical and social care infants. Additionally, to improve the coordination and effectiveness of efforts towards the prevention of abandonment of infants and young children a multilateral agreement was signed during April 2012. This involved Equilibrium, Ruse Hospital, the Directorate of Social Assistance (Ruse and the Regional) supported by the Regional health inspectorate.

At the same time, our emergency unit was adapted to accommodate newborn babies and very young children in an environment close to the family. Equilibrium signed a partnership agreement with Ruse Municipality for the development of foster care within the project “I have a family” which prioritizes children aged 0-3 years and children with disabilities.

As a result of these activities, no single child has been placed in residential care in the six months to January, 2013 on the basis of a protection order. This shows that a coordinated, multidisciplinary can ensure it identification of family-based alternatives to residential care for children at risk.

At present, the team of the complex for social services is actively involved in the closure of the ‘Raina Gateva’ home for children deprived of parental care by supporting the reintegration of children into their families or their placement in foster care.

In December 2012, Equilibrium supported the removal of the last two children from baby institution in Smolyan (now closed). This was a difficult case as involved siblings of different ages – a three-year-old boy who, fortunately, was showing normal development while his six-year-old sister was mute and quasi-autistic.

We transferred the children to Ruse and looked after them both in our emergency unit at the outset. This helped us to recognize the very strong emotional connection between them and provoked us to seek a foster family while assisting with what we expected to be a difficult transition. The placement was made just before Christmas and, since that date, they have made impressive and reassuring progress and have become well integrated into the family and among the neighbours They are about to start kindergarten where the little girl will receive special support.