Meeting in Montana on Support and Cooperation in Social Services Sector
On November 24, 2015, in the Regional Administration – Montana, a meeting on the topic “Support and cooperation in the social services sector”, organized by National Alliance for Social Responsibility (NASO) and its representation in the region of Montana, i.e. Day Care Center – Montana, took place. Representatives of the municipal and regional administration of Montana, social service directors and experts from the region as well as NGO representatives participated in the occasion. When welcoming the participants, Maya Raikova, Chief Expert at the Social Service Department of the Municipality of Montana, presented the spectrum of social services provided in the city and the active work on projects of the Regional Administration, thanks to which the whole range of services for children was available in Montana. The team of NASO presented the opportunities for support and capacity development of social service providers at international, national and regional levels. Additionally, the last normative changes in the field of social assistance and services were presented as well as the concept of the new Law on Social Services. Special attention was given to the provision of information about supporting mechanism and instruments for funding. The open under the operational programs schemes as well as the forthcoming procedures within the indicative annual work programs were presented by A. Zdravkova, Regional Information Center – Montana.
During the discussion held, all participants had the chance to share achievements and challenges related to their work. Among the main topics brought to the table was the issue on the uneven distribution of delegated budgets in view of the minimum wage increase, which caused a minimal difference in the wages of expert and ordinary social service staff. The comments on the new Law on Social Services were positive, however, many questions regarding the provision of extra funds for increasing the quality standards were raised. The motivation of experts to remain in the social sector was also discussed and it was agreed on that it was a topic that needed to be further commented on. In view of the integrated services of Complex for Health Care and Social Services “St. Mina”, the need of a clear definition of the services as well as of a vision for their development was stressed. Also, methodological support and guidelines in order to ensure effectiveness and sustainability were needed. At the end of the meeting, the participants expressed gratefulness for the possibility to take part in the discussion and to exchange experience and information. Furthermore, they expressed their wish for conducting regular meetings on current problems and challenges. After the event, the team of NASO visited the Complex for Social Services for Children in the city of Montana, established in 2008 and consisting of a Center for Social Support, providing hourly services for children and families, and a Crisis Center, offering accommodation and support in crisis situations.