Regional meeting of social service providers in city of Haskovo
On February 18, 2016, in the city of Haskovo, a regional meeting on the topic “Perspectives for the development of social services in the region of Haskovo in the period 2016 – 2020” was held. The forum was organized by National Alliance for Social Responsibility (NASO) with the support of the Municipality of Haskovo. Representatives of local authorities from Haskovo region, the Regional Social Assistance Directorate as well as social services took part in the event. The participants were welcomed by Milena Trendafilova, Deputy Mayor of Haskovo Municipality, Georgi Georgiev, President of National Alliance for Social Responsibility (NASO), and Stefan Manahilov, Director of the Regional Social Assistance Directorate. Mrs. Trendafilova stressed the importance of the partnership with NASO in terms of the social services and policies development.
NASO presented the opportunities for national and international partnership through the already established partnerships, as well as of the involvement in working groups and councils for discussing key aspects of social policies. Additionally, the aims of the Alliance were presented, i. e. the importance of supporting its members and the structures established in the social sector in order to improve the quality and efficiency of social services in Bulgaria. Among the main topics discussed were the Law on Social Services and the normative changes related to the work of the professionals in the field, the approaches and models of work in the various municipalities in the region.
The Municipality representatives presented the leading practices in their work. Thus, representatives of the Municipality of Dimitrovgrad pointed out that the monthly meetings between them and social service experts were very useful in terms of finding solutions to work-related problems. Additionally, those meetings were leading to improving the dialogue and creating a professional network of specialists so that they could exchange information and work together more effectively.
In terms of the social sector development in Haskovo, the integrated approach and the comprehensive model of work were presented by the Community Center for Children and Families established under the project “Accessible world for our children”. The Center provides consultative and mobile health services for early intervention in the community, e. g. parental and health care counseling, training of parents, rehabilitation, consultations with a speech therapist, early intervention of disabilities, etc. Nevena Zhelyazkova on her side presented the work of a Family-type Accommodation Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities established under the project “Childhood for everybody”. She pointed out that the service was using its full capacity and was providing accommodation to 14 children and youth with disabilities. The children had already adapted to the new environment and were going to school. However, the lack of specialized trainings of the service staff and the still existing prejudices of society were something that required a further change. Additionally, it was recommended that the number of users of the Family-type Accommodation Centers was reduced so that the service was more effective.
Mariana Dimitrova, Director of the Social Service Department of the Municipality of Svilengrad, presented the administrative service implemented in the city, which was provided by a team of accountants administering the social services in the Municipality only. That was having a positive impact on the distribution of funds to social services, established under projects, and namely, three Day Care Centers, a Home Care Assistance, and Pensioners’ and Persons with Disabilities’ Clubs. The Day Center for Elderly People is being financed by the Municipality in order to support elderly people without funds.
The main aim of Topolovgrad Municipality Strategy is to provide accessible and qualitative social services as well as comprehensive care for people at risk. It was pointed out that difficulties were created due to the overuse of the service capacity, such as that of the Center for Social Rehabilitation and Integration – Topolovgrad with a capacity of 50 users serving approximately 80 users per month on the average, among whom 39 are children. At the Center, a Social Support Unit is established providing support to children aged 3 to 18 years. There is a wide range of services for children and adults implemented at the Municipality established under projects and then funded under the state budget.
During the discussion, the participants shared their problems related to the financial standards of the social services, which were not high enough for the provision of qualitative support, and hence, the municipalities were required to co-fund them. Recommendations for improving the work of guardians of persons under guardianship were made as well. At the end of the meeting, the participants agreed that further meetings of those kind involving municipalities, Regional Social Assistance Directorates and social service providers were implemented and conducted on a regular basis as they were giving a great opportunity for exchanging experience and discussing various work-related issues.