Christmas Charity Event under the patronage of Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova Mayor of Sofia

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Cause: fundraising to foster family care to 50 abandoned babies Fundraising: 2 399 EUR Special thanks to:   The world- famous designer Ugo Cacciatori – special guest at the event presenting his Spring/Summer 2010 jewelry collection; PUMA: the general sponsor of the event; LES FLEURS Hotel and its talented cooks that provided the abundance of delicious bites for the guests; PERNOD-RICARD BULGARIA that provided the high quality alcohol beverages; We would also like to thank all of you that have bought the invitations for the charity event as well as all the guests to the event and the participants in the auction. The Christmas Charity Event has been organized with the mutual cooperation of Farenah Concept, “For Our Children” foundation and “Apollo and Mercury” auction…

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Half of all Bulgarians in favor of becoming foster parents, pensioners most skeptical

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A nationally representative survey of Gallup International conducted in October this year reveals that 70 percent of Bulgarians are supportive of foster care; half of the respondents stated that they would become foster parents only if they don’t have their own children or their children are already grown. One-tenth of the Bulgarian citizens are skeptical about temporary care of children at risk. Gallup researchers document a common source of the negative attitude: most skeptics worry that children grow accustomed to living in a foster family and consequently suffer from the transfer to their real or adoptive parents. The survey results were presented during a press conference held by “For our children” foundation and Gallup polling agency. During the course of six months, “For our children” foundation implemented a campaign called “Fix the childhood. Become a foster parent”, in which specialists from the organization motivated Bulgarians to think about the possibility of carrying for abandoned children, without formally adopting them. Mrs. Elka Nalbantova, development director of “For our children” foundation presented the campaign results. For half a year, 507 Bulgarians sought information about foster care and 90 residents of Sofia attended information sessions with professionals from our organization. According to foundation’s figures, 34 individuals continue assessment and training. Since the beginning of the year, “For our children” foundation has helped 8 families to pass through the whole procedure and four of them already accommodated foster children. According to Elka Nalbantova, Bulgarians’ main concern is whether they can control the bureaucratic process and the lives of the children under care. Another burning topic for potential foster parents is the pain associated with placing the children back in their biological or adoptive parents. Bulgarians remain worried about societal attitude, as well. Illustrating this point, Mrs. Elka Nalbantova cited a case in which neighbors of a foster family began to spread rumors that the child was illegally born. Poll results suggest that the main driver that motivates future foster parents is the desire to help children needing a family. Ranked second is candidates’ aspiration to be parents. Asked about their chief hurdles, most foster parent candidates quote the complicated bureaucratic procedures, unsupportive attitude of state administrators and the lack of respect from fellow citizens and professionals. The survey also revealed that nearly one third of all Bulgarians, mainly people over 55 and those of Turkish ethnicity, are seriously skeptical about the prospect of becoming foster parents. Most open to this possibility are women between 25 and 55 years who live in regional or small towns. Despite their positive attitude, however, these respondents said they expect an average remuneration of 410 leva for their efforts. based on the findings, Gallup polling agency recommended more active work for attracting professional foster parents. “The situation may change with the introduction of a single financial standard for foster care and with recognition of this activity as delegated by the state”, stated Mrs. E. Nalbantova from “For our children” foundation. Thus, virtually all state expenditures for foster care will be consolidated and it will become clear how much money goes into foster care per child. The increased transparency will enable the state to fund directly foundations and local municipalities, which in turn will develop regionally-adapted foster care programs. Experts from our foundation predict that the proposed plan will facilitate greatly the whole process of selection, evaluation, approval and placement of children in foster families. A month ago, foster families from across the country sent a letter to the Prime Minister Mr. Boyko Borisov. Foster parents demand receiving advance funds and increased pay for their care, which will encourage more people to participate. Other requests call for removal of the distinction between voluntary and professional foster parents with respect to financial support and granting allowances for periodic training. The requests were formulated at the annual meeting of foster parents, organized by “For our children” foundation in October this year. During a media meeting today, the member of our foundation Mrs. Vera Kolesheva presented further requests: to enable professional foster parents to enter into other foster care contracts, besides those with the state; to receive security in the event of termination of their foster care commitment and for establishment of a specialized body for foster children and families. Placement in a foster family is one of the measures applied to ensure a child’s right to live in a family environment when his/her own parents are unable to provide care. During the first six months of 2009 66 children have been placed in professional foster families and 18 children in voluntary foster care, bringing the total number to 84. According to official SACP statistics, 218 children are growing up in foster care as of 30.06.2009. In Sofia, only 6 children are placed in foster care since the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, at the end of June 2009 there were still 7 109 children living in 138 social…

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Health Ministry to declare the closure of shelters and prevention of infant abandonment

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Mrs. Ivanka Shalapatova, director of “For our children” foundation, along with Georgi Bogdanov and Eva Borisova from the National network for children participated in a working session with deputy health minister Dr. Valery Mitrev. The focus of discussion was the national policy for babies and children under 3 years living in social institutions, as well as the matters of child and maternal health in Bulgaria. At the meeting, NGO experts and members of the health ministry, led by the Deputy Minister, agreed upon the creation of a 4 year program for ensuring children’s rights within the Bulgarian healthcare framework. Experts also agreed on the importance of developing a safe home environment for the young citizens by strengthening the prevention of child abandonment, closing social institutions for babies and developing specific forms of assistance for parents of children with disabilities. NGOs and the health ministry discussed the updating of children medical standards, including standards for accreditation of those institutions that provide medical and health care to children and their families. Deputy health minister Dr. Mitrev underlined that the capacity of his institution is very limited. He declared that the policy of his office will be to outsource services to external suppliers, including NGOs. Foundation “For our children”, for the first time in a long relationship with the Ministry of Health, sees a sincere political desire for cooperation and unification of efforts to achieve concrete results. Our team will continue to take a proactive stance to improve the welfare of Bulgarian children and we hope that the health ministry will support all policies that reduce the number of children in social…

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Ivanka Shalapatova participated in a meeting with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov

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  Mrs. Ivanka Shalapatova, director of “For our children” foundation, attended a meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Mr. Boyko Borisov. The meeting was initiated and organized by the National Network for Children, whose member “For our children” foundation is. Participants at gathering, including deputy social minister Mrs. Valentina Simeonova, discussed the conclusions of the report: “Twenty views on implementing children policies in Bulgaria on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of UN’s convention for child protection”.   The texts concerning children in social housing were developed by “For our children” foundation.Child poverty in Bulgaria stands at 17 percent, the highest number in Europe, according to analyses conducted by non-governmental organizations. Mrs. Valentina Simeonova expressed government’s intention to close at least 10 state institutions for children in the next 3 years. The first social homes to be shut down will be those for children with disabilities, where the living conditions are extremely bad. Furthermore, the deputy social minister stated that Bulgaria expects 20 million euro as part of EU’s operative program “Regional Development”. The money will be used to create family-like houses and family-type centers. Between 15 and 20 million euro additional funds will be allocated under OP “Human Resources”. Valentina Simeonova added that the Prime Minister Mr. Borisov had ordered the formation of a special working group, which prepared a policy document summarizing everything previously done in the field of child care. The report will provide guidance on what will happen in the next 4 years in terms of social policy for children placed in social care homes. The guidelines, presented to Mr. Borisov are five. The first concerns the provision of best possible family environment for raising children. According to the National Network for Children (NNC) early prevention is crucial in avoiding children abandonments. A second major focus of the report concerns educational reforms. NNC demands full time education for all children below 7th grade. Another important point of the discussion with the Prime Minister was that of children healthcare. NNC insisted that children be seen as special clients of the health system that should not be treated equally with adult patients. The meeting also revealed that child and maternal mortality in Bulgaria are two times higher than in other European countries. Juvenile justice was also part of the issues debated with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. The National Network for Children reported that children who appear in court are prosecuted in a very outdated manner, which violates a number of European conventions. NGOs insisted on the establishment of guarantees for fair trial of juvenile perpetrators, in order to ensure the effective protection of children victims of crime. Moreover, the representatives of NGOs demanded that children younger than 12 years be considered only an object of protection rather than perpetrators of crime. Finally, the Prime Minister was presented with the idea to form so-called “Children courts” where only specially trained lawyers and judges can deal with matters of juvenile justice….

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“Crystal Purity of the Pancharevo Lake for Every Child”initiative was supported by our team

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In September 2008, Postbank officially launched its long-term programme of corporate social responsibility Crystal Purity of the Pancharevo Lake. With this initiative, the bank made a lasting commitment to care for the purity and maintenance of the area around the lake of Pancharevo. For third consequent year the Pancharevo region became clean thanks to the efforts of Post Bank employees, their friends and families. This year the bank focused on children and included in its traditional initiative with child party and picnic for children deprived of parental care, who live in social institutions in Sofia. “For Our Children” Foundation partnered this event. The slogan of the environment prevention project was “Crystal Purity of the Pancharevo Lake for Every Child”. During the traditional cleaning the volunteers collected more than 1 ton garbage. After the cleaning they took part in the planned child party and enjoyed the music entertainment and the tricks show provided by the bank.   Mrs. Emilia Milanova – Chair of the Board of Directors of Post Bank, Mr. Svilen Neikov – Minister of the Physical Education and Sport, Mr. Svilen Mitrev – Mayor of Pancharevo Municipality, Mr. Yordan Georgiev – mayor of Kokaliane and Mrs. Ivanka Shalapatova – Director of “For Our Children” Foundation.   „I congratulate Post Bank for this wonderful initiative that gives a chance to many Bulgarian children to experience pleasant emotions in the nature and to receive the care and attention they deserve. Our organization is responsible to prevent child abandonment in social institutions, but at the same time we never forget those children who are already in institutions. It really important for us to help them to find new families that will love and care for them.” – said Ivanka Shalapatova Director of “For Our Children” Foundation….

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The mayor of Sofia – Yordanka Fandukova has become a godmother of three children

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The mayor of Sofia – Yordanka Fandukova has become a godmother of three children – Angelika, Christian and Viara. The social workers and psychologist of “For Our Children” Foundation helped the children to live in their families.   All the children’s’ stories has had a happy ending thanks to the support of the social workers and psychologist from “For Our Children” Foundation. Viara is 4-years old. Her mother had abandoned her in the maternity ward and the social workers from “For Our Children” Foundation found her adoptive family – the Alexandrovis family. The little Christian was in risk to be abandoned in the maternity ward, but the suitable intervention of the social worker in the hospital helped the mother to make a decision to keep her child. Angelica’s parents were decided to abandon their baby and traveled from Burgas to Sofia so the mother to give birth in the capital and to go back in her hometown without the baby. In maternity ward “St.Sofia” the mother had been consulted by social workers from the Community Support Centre “St.Sofia” and she decided to take the baby with her. Before the start of the ceremony, Ivanka Shalapatova – “For Our Children” Foundation Director greeted all guests and said: Our task is to encourage the parents to take rights decisions for their children, to have responsible attitude to their kids. We believe that there aren’t bad parents in Bulgaria – there are people who need support to fulfill their parental responsibilities. Certainly our aim is every child to have family, but not at any price – when there is a risk fro the child, we are the first ones, who take measures to place the children in another family. ” Ivanka Shalapatova express her gratitude to the Sofia Municipality for their support and to the expert team of the foundation who makes future in families possible perspective for the children. The Sofia mare Yordanka Fandakova gave each child a cross and wished them to be healthy, loved, and supported by their parents. “I believe that the rights place for every child is in the family. We, in Sofia Municipality, support the social institutions for children, but we are aware that nobody can look after the child better than his/her mum and dad.”- said Yordanka Fanakova. She promised that she would follow the children’s development as their Godmother and would encourage the parents to do their best for their kids. The Community Support Centre “St.Sofia” is founded in 2007. Social workers, psychologists, family therapists, rehabilitators and doctors work there and consult young mothers not to leave their babies, foster and adoptive parents, and families that experience difficulties in taking care for their kids. The centre is funded by the municipal budget. “For Our Children Foundation” won a tender and will manage the centre till 2012. Since the beginning of 2010 the Centre helped more than 120 children and 37 candidates and approved for foster carers parents….

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“Pricewaterhouse Coopers Bulgaria” supports the prevention of infant abandonment

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“For Our Children” Foundation and “Pricewaterhouse Coopers Bulgaria” signed a long-term partnership. The audit company supported “Fix the Childhood. Save the baby” project aimed at prevention of infant abandonments in social institutions.   On a meeting in the Community support Centre “St.Sofia” Paul Tobin – managing partner in Pricewaterhouse Coopers gave a check for 20 584 leva to “For Our Children” Foundation Director – Ivanka Shalapatova. The Funds will be utilized to provide specialists, social workers and therapists to prevent infant abandonments before and immediately after the birth.   Paul Tobbin and representatives of the audit company team demonstrated their support to the important cause abandonment prevention and showed that the responsible attitude towards society and particularly the most vulnerable children is “Pricewaterhouse Coopers Bulgaria” priority.   Ivanka Shalapatova expressed her gratitude to “Pricewaterhouse Coopers Bulgaria” and its employees for helping children to live in family environment instead of social…

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For Our Children Foundation Statement: Minor girls must not give birth!

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Each year in Bulgaria there are reports of minor girls giving birth. Most young mothers keep the children, but some abandon their babies in social institutions. In 2008 alone, juvenile mothers abandoned 98 infants. Just a few days ago, the 12-year-old Naska from the Roma neighborhood in the village of Stryama became mother to a girl. The baby was born without complications in a Plovdiv hospital. “For Our Children” Foundation is deeply concerned with the fact that minors become parents. Earlier sexual encounters are a going trend in the developed world. Nevertheless, physical maturation is a long process and early births pose serious risks to minor mothers and their babies. In most Bulgarian cases, the young girls who give birth are totally unprepared for the important social function of motherhood. At the same time, some defenders of the Roma ethnicity believe that early births are a normal cultural feature. We, however, disagree with this argument because: 1. In today’s world, physiological maturity cannot be the sole determinant of when to become a parent.2. Minor mothers usually have limited social skills and are unaware of the alternative choices they have (e.g. to study, to have a normal social life). Thus, pregnant minors cannot make an informed decision and commonly follow the decisions taken by their parents or their community.3. The legislation in most developed countries prohibits sexual relations with minors and considers such acts a crime. Therefore, “For Our Children” Foundation will recommend to the Bulgarian state prosecution to investigate all cases of pregnant minors and to determine whether or not a crime had been committed. In this connection, we also recommend the following: 1. Minor mothers and their newborns should be a subject of state protection until the mother comes of age.2. Child protection experts should guarantee that minor mothers are supported until at least the age of 18 by people with parental skills.3. Minor mothers and their partners should receive free counseling, parenting skills training and family planning information.4. All high-risk communities should urgently be educated on the topics of family planning and children’s rights.5. State prosecutors should open investigations every time when juvenile pregnancies and births are reported in the public…

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The good practises for working with children become standarts

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The second training of the expert team of the project “Protected children in secure families” took place in Sofia from 18–th to 20–th of May. The project is aimed at achieving agreement among all stakeholders about the gaps in existing policies and practices for the protection of children raised in family environment and suggest strategies for improvement. The meeting was focused on creation of standards for the protection of children in family environment. The expert team ,that participated in the work shop, was coached by Dr Galina Markova from New Bulgarian University, Dr Andy Bilson who is Professor of Social Work at the University of Central Lancashire and Phil Smith, a child protection expert from Foster Care Associates. The approach to creating standards is unconventional. More often than not, rules are set based on what is missing or wrong. These standards will be established and implemented as a result of all participants – children, families, professionals, sharing personal stories on what protected children do in their families. During more than four months the expert teams collected stories for happy and safe memories in the family from children, living in biological or foster families, children deprived of parental care and parents. At the end of the training session Dr Galina Markova said to the experts from the child welfare system: “Your good practices will become standards and will be helpful not only for you as professionals, but for children and families.” At his turn, Dr Andy Bilson encouraged the participants always to be positive: “When you look on the strengths you put yourself in a different paradigm and start looking for a solution.” In the next month the project teams will start testing the standards before they are suggested to state recognition. The testing of the standards will take place in minimum 20 families. These families will be trained and supported for the introduction of the standards….

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“For Our Children” Foundation Board approved the annual report for 2009

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On a special session the members of “For Our Children” Foundation Board – Zlatka Mihova, Maxim Behar and Plamen Dimitrov approved the For Our Children Foundation annual report for 2009. Representatives of the management team of the organization, who also participated in the session, had the chance to share their vision about the successes and challenges in 2009. The members of the highest governing structure of “For Our Children” Foundation also approved the foundation action strategy for the next three years. The strategy continues the efforts of the organization to work for the most disadvantaged children during their early age and to develop alternatives of the social…

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