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Equilibrium Association is a member of the newly formed Permanent Expert Working Group (PEWG) by order of the MLSP RD-02-55/12.04.2023, which held its first meeting on 16.05.2023. The Working Group is tasked with developing the first two-year operational plan for the implementation of the Action Plan, in line with Council Recommendation (EU) 2021/2024 on the establishment of a European Child Guarantee, as well as developing bi-annual reports on the progress and results of the implementation of the planned measures and activities.

At the first meeting, the framework of the plan was agreed and the implementation process defined –  activities with deadlines and responsible institutions. Equilibrium’s participation  provides an opportunity to propose concrete actions to complete the first stage of the deinstitutionalisation process, namely the closure of the remaining 4 Children’s Medical and Social Care Homes (CMSCHs), as well as the continuation of the reform of the protection and care system to better meet the needs of every child for family, love, safety and protection.

Some of the proposals made by Equilibrium for the first two-year plan relate to:

 – Ending the entrance to residential care for young children with severe disabilities;

– Completing the construction of 20 centres for specialised health and social care for disabled children in need of permanent medical care, which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health;

– The closure of the remaining 4 CMCHs (of course);

– Reducing the number of children separated from their parents through active work on abandonment prevention and increased direct work with families at risk and from vulnerable groups;

– Implementation of the model of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Deinstitutionalization (model of “Hope and Homes for Children – Bulgaria Branch”) in all districts of the country for solving cases of children with disabilities, including placement in foster care;

– Updating university curricula in line with current research/trends in early childhood development and maternal and child health;

– Preparation of an analysis of the effectiveness of existing maternal and child health centres at the hospital/UHCH in terms of supporting parents, foster parents and adoptive parents of children with severe disabilities, optimising their work and establishing foster care units attached to them;

– Increase the number of foster families for children with moderate and severe disabilities, for infants with developmental problems, for teenagers, following a thorough analysis of the number, profile and geographical location of foster families;

– Piloting a demonstration project to create an individualized set of supported independent living services for youth with intellectual disabilities aging out of residential and foster care and many other topics that we believe are agenda items to improve the care of children, as well as children and youth with disabilities in alternative care, so that they have a family-like and supported independent living environment.