Conference in Stara Zagora on Social Services for Children with Generalized Development Issues: Challenges for Sustainable Development
On March 30, 2016 in the city of Stara Zagora a practical conference on Social Services for Children with Generalized Development Issues: Challenges for Sustainable Development was held. The conference was organized by Alternative 55 Civil Association – a representation of National Alliance of Social Responsibility for Stara Zagora. Almost 50 social experts from Burgas, Nesebar, Pomorie, Kazanlak, Karnobat, Cherven bryag, Plovidv and Stara Zagora attended the event. They were welcomed by Dr. Antonia Todorova, head of Health Care and Social Activities Department of Stara Zagora Municipality and Mr. Georgi Georgiev, President of NASO. Mr. Georgiev presented also the leading topics and activities in European, national and regional scale directed to the development of social policies and services, support for effectiveness improvement of social work, and raising the quality of social services. He underlined the significance of social work with children with special needs and their families and the responsible role of partnership between social services, local authorities and NGOs for the social integration of children with special needs.
In the practical panel Ms. Anastasia Vasileva, President of Alternative 55 SA presented the work of Family Center “Alternative 55” and the social service “Center for Social Rehabilitation and Integration for Children with Generalized Development Issues and Work with Their Families”. Ms. Alexandra Dimitrova, psychologist and family consultant presented some alternative social services for such children. A special focus was given on art-therapy and its different forms as well as their implementation in work with parents. It was pointed out that the art approaches can give positive results on social integration of children with generalized development issues. Another alternative approach of work is sport therapy. The teams of Sport Club Phenomenon and “Alternative 55” presented their program on hippotherapy and swimming as well the methodology for initial condition and progress assessment of each child.
The discussion focused on the main issues in providing social services for children. The gaps in the methodology of Center for Social Rehabilitation and Integration Service, issues with parents of children with special needs, the need for raising public awareness regarding the abilities of children with special needs and developing better support network were among the commonly shared opinions. Health care system was also discussed and a recommendation for better early diagnostics and intervention for children with special needs was given. The common understanding was that there is a need for development of better social infrastructure. Different approaches, methods, challenged and achievement in providing alternative social services with art-therapy and sport were discussed on an expert level.
The conference was part of one-month informational campaign of “Alternative 55” in support of children with autism and their families. The campaign included also a drawing contest and a children happening.