XI National Forum of Social Service Providers – Challenges for Local Authorities During New Programming Period
On April 13 and 14, 2016 in the city of Veliko Turnovo the XI National Forum of Social Service Providers was held. It was organized by National Alliance for Social Responsibility in traditional partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), National Association of Municipalities of R Bulgaria (NAMBR), Municipality of Veliko Turnovo and Municipality of Ruse. The extremely significant question about $ “Challenges in front of local authorities during the new programming period” was the leading topic of the conference whereas over 220 representatives from local authorities, municipal structures and their main partners – government, NGOs and media, attended. For eleventh subsequent time this Forum gave opportunity for joint work in a common partnership of all governmental, local and private bodies, organizations and stakeholders responsible for the development of social policies and services in Bulgaria. Representatives from four ministries – MLSP, Ministry of Finances, Ministry of Education and Science and Ministry of Health, as well as experts from the Agency of Social Assistance and State Agency on Child Protection also attended the conference. This wide range of stakeholders highly increased the significance and expectations for higher efficiency of discussions during the conference itself and the forthcoming activities following the conference.
Georgi Georgiev, NASO President, Lazar Lazarov, deputy minister of labour and social policy, Dr. Vanyo Sharkov, deputy minister of health, Lyubomira Popova, deputy governor of Plovdiv District, Gancho Karabadzhakov, deputy-mayor of Veliko Turnovo, Ivan Grigorov, deputy mayor of Ruse, and Franz Wolfmeyr, president of EASPD welcomed the participants during the opening of the conference. Mr. Lazarov pointed out that local authorities and NGOs are the natural and major partner of MLSP in service provision and implementing policies and measures for quality of social care. He presented the vision of social service development whereas the main accents were set on cross-sector partnership, DI process of children and adults services, guarantees for people’s rights, individualized approach and complex needs assessment. On behalf of Ministry of Health Dr. Sharkov confirmed that the partnership and common activities with all stakeholders would continue in future too, whereas new approaches for integrated children services and early child intervention will be developed.
In his opening speech, Mr. Wolfmayr pointed out that Bulgaria can be proud with the achievements in the DI process. He recommended that UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities should be used as a ground for all new policies and measures. “Social sector shouldn’t be accepted as a source of additional financial burden but just the opposite – as an investment in people and social economy development,” said Mr. Wolfmayr in his opening.
The first panel was focused on the development of social services, the draft of a Law on Social Services, the responsibilities of government and local authorities and DI process of children and adults. Deputy Minister Lazarov opened the panel with a key presentation. The panel also included presentations and speeches from Ivaylo Ivanov, executive director of Agency for Social Assistance, Daniela Ushatova, NAMBR, Eva Zhecheva, chairperson of SACP. Mariela Licheva, Ruse Municipality and Dr. Sabina Sabera, International Social Service – Bulgaria, presented good practices. The second panel was dedicated to the European structural funds as a tool providing new, qualitative and sustainable social service. It was opened with a presentation on the opportunities of OP “Human Resources Development” presented by Zornitsa Roussinova, deputy minister of labour and social policy. Ivanka Sotirova, deputy mayor of Stara Zagora, and Zornitsa Kraleva, deputy mayor of Blagoevgrad presented good practices of social investments funded by the operatives programmes and ESF.
Social economy and entrepreneurship as a tool for better support for higher quality of life was the topic of the third and last panel. EASPD President Franz Wolfmayr made the key presentation including European models and practices for social economy development. MLSP presented the draft on a Law on social economy and cities of Troyan, Veliko Turnovo and Dimitrovgrad presented good practices in developing social enterprises.
There were active discussions on all topics whereas different points of view and recommendations for future development of legal framework, social service improvement and efficiency were presented. Different participants, NGOs and local authorities negotiated many future joint initiatives and new partnerships were developed amongst the attendees. All parties assessed the conference as an example of extremely valuable contribution to social development of Bulgaria.