MINISTRY OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL POLICY
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MUNICIPALITIES IN BULGARIA
EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF SERVICE PROVIDERS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
SEVENTH NATIONAL FORUM
OF SOCIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS
"SOCIAL POLICIES, SOCIAL SERVICES – A BETTER LIFE"
MELIA GRAND HERMITAGE HOTEL
GOLDEN SANDS – VARNA
June 4th – 6th, 2012
The Seventh National Forum of Social Service Providers was held on June 4th to 6th 2012 at Melia Grand Hermitage Hotel, Golden sands - Varna. It was organized by the National Alliance for Social Responsibility /NASO/ with support and partnership of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria and the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities /EASPD/.
The forum was attended by over 250 managers, experts, specialists and representatives of state and municipal institutions and structures, NGOs, socially responsible organizations, including the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Ministry of Education and Science, the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria, the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities, the Social Assistance Agency, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the National Alliance for Social Responsibility, municipalities, service providers, employers, schools, kindergartens and other educational institutions, social service users, representatives of national disability organizations, parents of children with disabilities, social and personal assistants and others.
This year's forum included several separate sessions.
The leading session included carrying out a meeting on Social Policies, Social Services - A Better Life of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy with municipalities, social service providers and users. Welcome speech on behalf of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Mr. Totyu Mladenov, was delivered by Ms. Zornitsa Rusenova, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy. On behalf of the Municipality of Varna, a host of the event, the participants were welcomed by Ass. Prof. Hristo Bozov, Deputy Mayor of Varna. Traditional welcome to all participants was also given by Mr. Luke Zelderloo, Secretary General of the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities. The meeting was attended by: Ms. Zornitsa Rusenova - Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Mr. Luke Zelderloo - Secretary General of the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), Mr. Ivaylo Ivanov - Executive Director of the Social Assistance Agency, Ms. Albena Atanasova – a representative of the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria and Deputy Mayor of Sofia, Ms. Yanita Manolova - Deputy Executive Director of the Social Assistance Agency, Ms. Pravda Ignatova - Director of International Cooperation and European Integration at the Social Assistance Agency. On behalf of social service users Ms. Vesselina Stoilova - an ombudsman for people with disabilities in Varna gave a speech at the meeting. Within this formal part of the forum the traditional annual national awards of the National Alliance for Social Responsibility for active and socially responsible policies and contribution to social and European development of Bulgaria were given:
- This year the grand prize was awarded to the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria. The award was given by the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Ms. Zornitsa Rusenova and the Secretary General of the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities Mr. Luke Zelderloo. On behalf of the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria the award was received by Ms. Albena Atanasova, Deputy Mayor of Sofia.
- Accessibility certificate was awarded to the host of the event – the Melia Grand Hermitage Hotel. The certificate was awarded to Mr. Juan Pedro Lemes, the hotel general manager.
Within the forum’s topic examples of best practices were presented by: Ms. Aneta Georgieva - a councillor in the Municipal Council of Sofia and a member of the Standing Committee on Labour and Social Policy (National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria), Ms. Donka Mihailova - Mayor of Troyan and a member of the Standing Committee on Labour and Social Policy (National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria), Ms. Rosica Dimitrova - Director of Social Work and Health at the Municipality of Veliko Tarnovo, Ms. Sabina Sabeva - Executive Director the International Social Service Foundation, Mr. Georgi Bogdanov - Executive Director of the National Network of Children, Ms. Ella Kobets - Cedar Foundation, Ms. Bistra Boteva - NET Foundation.
Within the event the participants were able to obtain information, exchange views and experiences, discuss and seek answers to questions and solutions to problems, and implement national and international partnership.
The participants and guests assessed highly the organization, effectiveness and usefulness of the forum. The vocational debate was held including a lot of presentations, shared experiences and discussed problems; a lot of recommendations and suggestions were also formulated. The main of them included the following:
- The participants in the forum expressed their gratitude and greeted the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly of Bulgaria with the successful ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- A positive assessment was given of the developed and adopted regulations in the social sphere concerning the strategy for employing people with disabilities, implementing the deinstitutionalization of services for children and allowing no financial cuts in the social sphere, despite economic difficulties.
- The efforts of the organizers to work together with representatives of institutions involved in social services at all levels were greatly appreciated.
- Together with the conclusion formulated that good decisions and practices were realized nationwide, it has been confirmed that there are greater needs for resources and solutions to improve the quality of life of the needy. Furthermore, the importance of social services was assessed as a tool to support the needy.
- Suggestions have been made to:
- The National Assembly for accelerating adaptation of the legislation in Bulgaria, corresponding to the ratified UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
- The Council of Ministers for raising the status, role and contribution of the National Council to integration of people with disabilities in order to mobilize all institutions to improve support and services to the needy;
- The Ministry of Finance for updating the financial standards of funding social services, social support, benefits, pensions and income of people with disabilities and other groups in need;
- The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy for:
- adopting quality standards of social services and increasing their efficiency and scope;
- ensuring development and sustainability of social services, including new ones, providing social activity and involvement, especially personal services and services for inclusive education, supported and integrated employment, etc.;
- overcoming failure and promoting successful development of the process of deinstitutionalization of services for children and starting deinstitutionalization of services for adults;
- providing opportunities through policies, programs and projects to include NGOs in the implementation of social policies and social services;
- planning the next programming period of EU funds to include the need for increased investment and financing in the social sector providing an opportunity for sustainability of activities and services and creating conditions for active involvement of civil society and other entities.
- Municipalities for:
- expediting the procurement process of implementation of social services to external providers, including NGOs, personally and professionally involved with groups in need and holding capacity and quality services;
- expanding the types and scope of social services and sources of funding.
- Providers of social services for:
- improving the capacity of providers, expanding the network throughout the country, raising the quality and effectiveness of services;
- implementing the contribution to removing "hollow" services and such ones with unused capacity;
- developing and introduction of a certificate of availability of capacity, expertise, loyalty and quality of providers.
- National disability organizations for:
- improving capacity expertise of national organizations and their contribution to improving the work of the National Council for integration and quality of life of persons with disabilities.
The second session of the forum included carrying out a national seminar with international participation on Inclusive Education. The participants were welcomed by Mr. Kosta Bazitov, Deputy Mayor of Varna. Leading presentations on the topic were given by: Mr. Luke Zelderloo - Secretary General of the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), Mr. Zoltan Varkonyi - Association for Lifelong Learning - Hungary, Ms. Lydia Shirokova –a representative of the Ministry of Education and Science and a director of the Resource Centre Varna, Prof. Dr. Vladimir Radulov - St. Clement of Ohrid University of Sofia. Models of good practice were presented by: the Municipality of Varna, the Agency for Social Development Vision, directors of schools and kindergartens. The discussion was attended by parents, social assistants, teachers and others. A European project to build a European network was presented and the participants were invited to take part in a European conference on the topic in Budapest in September.
Within the forum a constituent meeting of the Standing Committee on Labour and Social Policy of the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria was held. Ass. Prof. Hristo Bozov, Deputy Mayor of Varna, was appointed as chairman of the Committee's New Mandate.
The Seventh National Forum ended with holding a general meeting of the National Alliance for Social Responsibility where the organization’s strategic plan 2012-2015 was adopted.
An agreement was achieved between the National Alliance for Social Responsibility and the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria to summarize all the suggestions made by the participants of the forum and submit them to the competent authorities for decision-making within a month after the forum.