It is important to build bridges and to maintain them
“A bridge across time” round table took place in Pernik in January the 19th, 2023, in partnership with the Municipality.
The aim was to share good practices in family support work and to discuss the mechanisms for interaction and coordination between all partners involved in the process of reforming the child protection system to function without the presence of institutions and to always seek alternatives in a family environment and social service provided in the community.
The round table started with the presentation of the latest film of Hope and Homes for Children – Bulgaria – “Love is All”.
Georgi Simeonov, Executive Director of Hope and Homes for Children – Bulgaria opened the round table by congratulating all participants and thanking for the achievements and success in Pernik in the process of deinstitutionalization. He talked about the good and outstanding cooperation with the institutions, which in turn has led to spectacular results for the children and families. Mr. Simeonov then gave the floor to Ivayla Kasarova, Deputy Chairperson of the State Agency for Child Protection. Mrs. Kasarova thanked us for organizing this meeting and for the opportunity to participate and share her experience. She told about the beginning of the process, and namely the creation of the National Strategy “Vision for Deinstitutionalization for Children in the Republic of Bulgaria”, the participation of the Agency for social assistance and the State agency for child protection in the national projects for reforming childcare and the overall support of the process. Mrs. Kasarova emphasized on how dynamic everything was and how Pernik is really a great example of the work on deinstitutionalization. According to her, we are building bridges, but we need to maintain them, develop them, and build on them.
Then the Round table continued with a presentation of the work of Hope and Homes for Children – Bulgaria across the region of Pernik by the regional coordinator Milena Mateeva. She started her presentation with the symbolism of the bridge – it connects, supports, helps. In her introduction, she talked about the active family support as an essence and how she applied this model in her fieldwork together with all stakeholders. She also gave statistics on the work period for 2012 – 2015, the year the baby home in Pernik was closed. Milena Mateeva also shared the organization’s working model – the District DI Coordination Mechanism – a model that united us very much, she emphasized. The main reasons for the success, in her opinion, are the good cooperation and the effective communication between all parties involved in the process of deinstitutionalization and pooling their capacities and resources available to each party to achieve the best interest of the child. She also told the participants about two of the children supported and how they are doing today and what they have achieved, how well they have developed despite all the difficulties and obstacles.
Then Milena Mateeva invited Mrs. Rumyana Gerova – Head of the Child Protection Department – Pernik to share and talk about the process through her eyes.
Mrs. Gerova shared how she remembered the common cases we have worked on, she told us that in the beginning there was fear of this process. She then recalled the multidisciplinary work that was backed up by the Coordination Mechanism. She marked that without the support and assistance of Dr. Veselinova, the Director of the Home for medical and social care for chidlren at that time, the process would certainly have been very difficult. Of course, she expressed her satisfaction with our mutual case work and the overall support from our organization.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do it on our own” – Mrs. Gerova admitted and she also talked about a case of supporting a child in a foster family, where an extreme urgency had occurred and the overall support, flexibility and quick reaction of our organization were very crucial for the child. After Mrs. Gerova spoke, then Dr. Veselinova – the head of the Family type placement center with permanent medical care – Pernik took the floor. Dr. Veselinova also emphasized on how well and fast the communication and coordination between all participants in the process were, which created good working conditions. She shared that every child’s destiny is important to her, as well as the best interest of the child, and her aspiration is that every child can live in a family environment if they cannot receive quality services.
A discussion followed, in which colleagues from District foster care team, Pernik municipality, Regional Directorate for social assistance – Kardzhali, Social Assistance directorate – Pernik, “Equilibrium” Association, Hope and Homes for Children – Bulgaria took part. The colleagues from Pernik and Kardzhali exchanged their experiences regarding the closure of the Home for medical and social care for children and the support of children and families.
Our team thanked all the colleagues from the child protection system for their work and successful partnership.