Meeting in Plovdiv city on social services’ role in protecting children’s interest
On January 21, 2016, in the city of Plovdiv, a meeting on the topic “The role of social services in protecting the children’s interest” took place. The event was hosted by the representation of National Alliance for Social Responsibility (NASO) in the region of Plovdiv, i.e. Complex for Social Services for Children and Families. The discussion within the meeting was divided in two panels, whereby the first one was focused on the social service “Mother and baby unit” and the second one was dedicated to the social services for children in the context of the Draft Law on Social Services.
Participants in the meeting were social service specialists from the “Mother and baby unit” from the whole county, who took part in such a specialized meeting for the first time since the existence of the service. These units started functioning for the first time during the deinstitutionalization process and were related to preventing children’s abandonment and supporting pregnant women. During the last few years, key challenges, problems and good practices had to be taken into consideration. The update of the methodology for implementing the service was discussed due to the differences between theory and practice, the expansion of the target groups, etc. Within the discussion, a serious problem related to the lack of surveys in terms of emergency accommodation and ensuring the safety and health of the rest of the service users, was brought up. The specialists agreed on the need of methodological guidance in cases when mothers with HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis, etc. were to remain in confidentiality, and the prevention of the contamination of other mothers and children as well as the staff at the unit, and at the same time, securing the stay of the mother and the child during the first months after birth were needed. The participants agreed that the evaluation made by the Children’s Protection Department when entering the service was highly important for the efficiency of the service as well as the vision for the development of the service users after leaving the social care. It was necessary to make precise evaluations of the mothers’ capacity to raise a newborn child, their parental capacity as well as resources for leading an independent life without putting their children at risk so that the service provided was effective for the mothers as well.
During the second panel, the representatives of the social services for children in the city of Plovdiv, i.e. Family-type Accommodation Centers, Centers for Social Rehabilitation and Integration, Social Support Centers, Complexes for Social Services, etc., were in the focus. The Draft Law on Social Services of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies, which should refine the status and scope of social services, was discussed. Additionally, important questions related to the funding of social services, the increase of the salaries of the specialists in the sector and the introduction of quality criteria for the implementation of social services were raised.
The exchange of good practices as well as the shared common challenges and decisions were extremely important for the participants in the meeting. It is necessary to continue working together in specialized discussions on the various types of services and social service users, whereby NASO took the initiative to implement further meetings of that kind and to support the formulation of suggestions for changes in the normative documents.