An informational meeting dedicated to the promotion of foster care was held in the meeting hall of the municipality of Ardino. The event was organized by Hope and homes for children – Bulgaria (HHC-Bulgaria), CPD Ardino, the regional foster care team and Center for Community Support, Ardino.
Kremena Stoyanova, national expert on children’s policies, introduced the attendees to the work of Hope and homes for Children – Bulgaria. She informed that there are 62 children with disabilities in the country who need to be raised in a family environment. These are children who are placed in the Homes for medico-social care for children in the country and who need to be removed from these institutions in order to make better progress in their development. There are 13 children in Kardzhali district who need foster families. They are currently in the Home for medical and social care for children, but this institution has nothing more to contribute to their development and this may lead to a regression in their condition. At the same time, there are no available foster parents for these children. A solution to this problem needs to be found, because foster care must reflect the needs of society and benefit those in need.
“We at HHC – Bulgaria support every foster family raising a child with a disability, as well as biological families. Then, when the crisis in the family is material, we support the family with the most necessary things so that the child is not separated from his parents”, stated Kremena Stoyanova.
There are five free foster parents in Kardzhali District, one of them is in Ardino municipality, but their profile is to raise healthy children. Currently, children with disabilities, who seem to be doomed to live in institutions, need alternative care and this leads to other social problems. The purpose of this meeting was to find ways for free foster families to become motivated and willing to offer the service for children with disabilities.
In this regard, a foster parent told how a healthy child was placed with him, but he turned out to be disabled, and this was not an obstacle for them to train and now offer their support to children with disabilities. In this situation, a flexible policy and activism is needed for social services to respond to users.
The district coordinator of the HHC – Bulgaria Ivanka Taushanova emphasized that the municipality of Ardino is one of the first in the district with very well-functioning social services for children. “Kardjali region needs more foster families, especially those for raising children from 0 to 3 years old, as well as for children with disabilities.”
Social worker Veneta Ilieva presented information about the essence of foster care and what the conditions are for applying. “At the moment, there are 4 foster families with three placed children in the municipality of Ardino. Anyone interested can get more information about foster care at the office of the Regional Team in the building of the Sheltered House in the city of Ardino,” said Ilieva.
With active work and following good practices, 13 out of a total of 36 children placed in the Home for medical and social care for children in Kardzhali can find family care and a chance for development. This should be a goal for the responsible institutions to strive for. The rest of the children who need constant medical care find their place in the SGH with permanent medical care. When their condition improves and they are brought out to a family environment. All too often, deinstitutionalization is seen as a one-time process, and it must be ongoing and must lead to positive outcomes for every child.