Vyara Panayotova after training in Italy about the play as a means of entertainment for children with development difficulties

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Vyara Panayotova, a social worker at For Our Children Foundation participated in a training course in Italy entitled “Games and Toys for All”. It was organized by the international network LUDI: Play for Children with Disabilities, operating under the COST program of the European Union, which supports research and technological development.   Vyara has returned a few days ago from her encounter with this inspirational form of Play. Here is what she told us about: what she learned; the novelties and the possibility to apply them to the work of the Foundation in support of the development of the youngest children with development difficulties:   The training was devoted to the children’s right to play and the game as a means of entertainment, especially for children with disabilities. Why did we need to remember that play was primarily fun? Because most of the therapies and trainings of children with developmental difficulties are in the form of a game where there is always a goal set. For these children, playing may not be fun at all, it can be even annoying, that is why the lecturers of the event focused more on the free, unstructured play with which … you just have fun.   We exchanged experience and knowledge with colleagues from other countries about our working methods, and I also had the opportunity to see things from the perspective of toy designers and playground operators who were also participants in the training.   Particularly valuable was the opportunity to put into practice the things that were theoretically presented to us. We had real fun! Full with experiences and emotions were the last two days in which we met 6 children with different developmental difficulties. The lecturers divided us into groups and set us the difficult but extremely enriching and responsible task of constructing a game according to the interests, dreams and wishes of each child, but also suitable for their specific needs and potential.   This training brought me back to my childhood when I jumped on a rope, together with friends threw a ball, played with puzzles. I remembered the time when we did not know any of the complex terms I now work with on a daily basis. It also reminded me that in my work with children with disabilities it is important first and foremost to make them feel good and have fun, because that is the only way we can achieve truly lasting results.   I will share the knowledge with colleagues in Sofia and Plovdiv, and we will apply it in our direct work by adapting play and toys to the specific needs of children with developmental difficulties who visit the Community Support Center “St. Sofia” and the Community Support Center ” For Children and Parents”. That is how we will increase our capacity to deliver “I Play and Dream” development services, which we are launching this year. We will also think about creating games, keeping in mind the interests and dreams of each child, in order to make them  more entertaining.    …

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“For Our Children” Foundation trained healthcare professionals from the University Hospital in Plovdiv

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Healthcare professionals from the Department of Neonatology of the University Multiprofile Hospital for Active Treatment in Plovdiv participated in a two-day course called “Maternal Breastfeeding in a Neonatologically Intensive Care Ward“, organized by “For Our Children” Foundation and the Bulgarian National Association of Support for Breastfeeding. Dr. Aneta Popivanova, Chair of the Association, and Hristina Yaneva, breastfeeding consultant, led the training.   By giving real examples and practical directions, the lecturers drew attention to a variety of topics related to breastfeeding of premature babies, its great importance for the development of children, good practices, challenges facing young mothers, among other topics. Health professionals from UMHAT-Plovdiv received valuable advice on how to provide full support to the mothers of premature babies, encouraging them to feed them naturally and in the conditions of the neonatal ward.   The training was part of a series of training for healthcare professionals, organized under the Early Child Care Project, implemented by “For Our Children” Foundation and funded by the Oak Foundation.   The primary objective of the Early Childhood Care project is to improve the development and well-being of children in early childhood (0-7) by introducing an integrated health, social and family-centered approach to care. Through research and advocacy activities, as well as piloting of social and health services for direct work with children and families, the project aims to improve the policy and practice regarding the early child development in the health, social and educational systems in…

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“Childhood 2025” Coalition demands that the problems at FTPCs be urgently solved

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The “Childhood 2025” Coalition, part of which is also “For Our Children” foundation, send an open letter to the media, regarding the subject of “Family type placement centers and the process of deinstitutionalization of children”. The coalition summons all intrigued parties to resume the dialogue, which in recent years has been neglected, in order to deal with important matters, such as the quality of the care for children, accommodated at FTPCs and other centers.   The recently shown video footage of violence at the FTPC “Hrizantema” is only a consequence of many reasons and problems, which the coalition, together with many other organizations, has written down a number of times and sent to the ministers of labor and social politics and minister of healthcare, as well as brought upon during different expert groups: There is an inadequate financial standard, which cannot cover the specific needs of children and adolescents; not enough personnel – low-qualified, low-paid personnel that does not receive trainings and professional support to handle the many obstacles in the care for children – a question which has been thrown around between the Ministry of labor and social politics and the Ministry of finance for the last several years. Non-existing specialization of the FTPCs in order to ensure that the specific needs of different children and adolescents, with or without disabilities, will be met accordingly. Ineffective and insufficient cooperation between different residential services, the healthcare and education systems, the police and many other institutions, which leaves the personnel feeling that the entire responsibility about this community care for children, falls on them Lacking of constant monitoring of the quality to register different problems in a timely manner and will help solve them; monitoring that will give objective proof for the quality of care for the children and ideas on how to improve the professional capacity.   These are system problems which, if postponed, will put all of the accomplishments by far, all of the successes in terms of the process of deinstitutionalization of children in Bulgaria, at a grave risk.   Read the complete text of the open letter.   The “Childhood 2025” coalition derives its name from the Vision of deinstitutionalization of children in Bulgaria and is a unification of civil organizations and networks, representing mora than `150 NGOs from the entire country, which have been working towards the deinstitutionalization since the year 2000. Our aim is to make the process of deinstitutionalization sustainable, despite of the political changes, and having as a main priority – the development of the individual care in the community for each and every child and guaranteeing that its rights would be respected….

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In 2017 “For Our Children” foundation supported close to 1900 children and families

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Close to 1900 children and families entrusted “For Our Children” foundation in the year 2017. Our experts worked with more than a thousand children and families at our Community Support Centers in Sofia and Plovdiv, our Foster Care Center and our Children’s House. We supported 708 children and their biological, adoptive or extended families, 41 children were accommodated in our loving foster families, and 13 babies spent the first moments of their lives in the comfort and warmth of our Children’s House. More than 270 other present and future mommies and daddies took park in our parenting skills groups and courses.   With our project “Care in the early age” we managed to support more than 800 children, parents and health specialists, providing them with consultations, training and visitations when needed.   Last year, “For Our Children” foundation worked on more than 500 cases of prevention of abandonment of children. From those 500 cases, 116 were cases of children at risk of abandonments after birth. We saved 73 newborns, thanks to our active cooperation with hospitals and the timely support we provided to the parents in need.   Besides with the families that declared their intentions to abandon their newborns, our experts worked with 399 large families, families suffering from poverty, parents with disabilities or addictions, parents of newborns with disabilities or health issues, as well as parents of prematurely-born babies. All of the children stayed with their families. With this program we also helped 22 children residing with their extended families or relatives, 17 adopted children, 11 children, victims of violence, 51 children at risk of expulsion from school, 9 children with behavioral issues. We supported 45 parents undergoing the process of reintegration.   The cost-free parenting skills courses that we organize on regular basis continues to intrigue many present and future parents. More and more popular became the consultations on primary prevention of abandonment and the courses for future adoptive parents. We trained 86 future adoptive parents, and organized 65 courses and groups for primary prevention.   The support for biological, extended and adoptive parents, that the foundation provides under internationally established methods, has a positive effect on the children, our researches categorically determine. As a result of our work, in 180 out of the 206 children who we assessed, we constituted a shift in the positive direction, their parents are taking good care of them and meet their needs adequately. The parents of 26 other children still need our support. We worked hard to build an emotional connection between parents and their children. 171 children at risk of abandonment remained in their biological families. The number of supported children and parents since the establishment of the “For Our Children” foundation 26 years ago, now exceeds 11…

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Belated presents for 16 children arrived at our Community Support Center in Plovdiv

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Belated presents from our friends from the NGO “Operation Teddy Bear” surprised 16 children, that our Community Support Center “For children and parents” in Plovdiv works with.   Children’s books, musical instruments, puzzles, Lego sets, miniature trains and other wonderful toys, brought joy to the children, which did not wait to go back home to open up their presents.   We are grateful to the NGO “ Operation Teddy Bear” which, for yet another year, provided the dream presents for the children, which our CSCs in Sofia and Plovdiv, as well as our Foster Care Center, work withs.    “For Our Children” foundation’s CSC “For children and parents” was founded in 2010. Everyday, out social workers, psychologists and specialists make sure parents in need would not abandoned their newborns and children, and work for the return of already-abandoned children back in the secure environment of their biological family. In 2017, our experts from CSC “ For children and parents” supported 292 children and their families. They worked on 51 cases of prevention of abandonment of newborns and saved 43 babies from being abandoned. 235 families did not separate with their children thanks to the experts at the center. The cost-free courses for parenting skills that we organize on a regular basis continue to be of interest for a large number of present and future parents. 160 mothers and fathers took part in them last year.    …

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“For Our Children” foundation and Bulstrad Vienna Insurance Group – together again in the name of happy childhood in a family

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“For Our Children” foundation is amongst the 4 organizations which were chosen to be beneficiaries of the 2017 competition “Tales of kindness”, organized by Bulstrad Life Vienna Insurance Group.     The foundation will invest the funds, donated by Bulstrad Life, in the development of the care and improvement of the quality of life of the children, that reside in our “Children’s House“, as well as in broadening the scope of our “Support for families” program, via which our Community support centers in Sofia and Plovdiv assist families and children in need, providing them with material and financial support, as well as expert advice.   The “Children’s house” is a place for little children (up to 6 children, age from 0 to 7), abandoned by their parents, oftentimes right after birth. At our House, the babies receive full-time care, attention and lots of love. For the 5 years since its foundation, 38 children found their temporary home in our “Children’s House”, 34 of which are already adopted. Thanks to the professionalism of the team and our positive cooperation with the Departments of Child Protection, on average the children reside in our House between 4 and 6 months only, after which they are either returned to their biological family, adopted, or given to a loving foster family.   At our Community Support Centers in Sofia and Plovdiv, teams of social workers, family therapists, psychologists, early childhood development specialists and more, support children and families in need to overcome the obstacles they face in their everyday lives so that they stay together. Besides the expert opinions of our specialists and their professional advice, we try to ensure additional forms of support for children with disabilities, including innovative therapies like hypotherapy, hydrotherapies, music-therapy and rehabilitation. Oftentimes these therapies are too expensive for most of the parents, as the fees for a single session could vary between 20 and 25 leva, and in order for them to have any effect on the child, they need to exercise regularly and visit between 2 and 3 sessions per week. Thanks to the financial support of regular donators, in 2017 we managed to provide regular hypotherapy sessions for 4 children. More than 20 children took part in our weekly music therapy group sessions. With some of the children, our specialists even worked individually.     The partnership between “For Our Children” foundation and Bulstrad Life Vienna Insurance Group dates back to the year 2015, when the company first donated funds to support the foster families and children, which our Foster Care Center works with, as well as for the “Prevention of abandonment” program which is realized by the 6 biggest maternity wards in Sofia and Plovdiv….

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="Тази Коледа чудесата правите Вие!"

38 000 BGN were donated by the employees of 48 companies in support of children at risk during the campaign “This Christmas You Make the Miracles!”

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The employees of 48 socially responsible companies donated BGN 38,000, in order to support the prevention of child abandonment, during the fifth edition of the charity campaign “This Christmas the Wonders You Make!” organised by “For Our Children” Foundation.   The biggest donations for this year’s cause were provided by: Progress, Sutherland global, Kreston Bulmar and Profi Credit – traditional campaign participants.   The employees of 18 companies joined the charity initiative for the first time. Among them were the children and parents from the Bulgarian School “St. St. Cyril and Methodius “in Leiden, the Netherlands, who raised funds during their Christmas concert.     The participants donated through various initiatives such as: Christmas Lunch, Auction, Stand-up comedy performance, Cinema at the Office, Morning Coffee for Employees, and Multiplayer Gaming.   “For Our Children” Foundation wishes to thank all socially responsible companies and their employees for their support, thanks to which more children will stay in their families and grow happy and…

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Today our FTPC “Children’s House” said goodbye to its loudest occupant

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Today we said goodbye to our sweetheart – Ivan, who we sent off in the arms of his new mommy and daddy.   The first time we laid eyes on Vanko was 6 months ago, when we has only 2 weeks old – a very tiny baby, with curly black hair and beautiful brown eyes. Even then Vanko was the loudest baby at out Children’s House and even though we rarely heard his voice, he was truly scary whenever he got mad and started to cry. A child with an established character, the baby-sitters commented amongst themselves.   Besides being loud, the baby had an unique charm and was a true fury – he always liked to be the center of attention, never stopped crawling and messing with all the other babies. For his new mommy and daddy, Vanko has prepared a wide repertoire of all sorts of baby performances, which we believe will bring a lot of laughter and jolly moments to the new family.   Vanko is one of the 7 children who spent the first months of their lives in the cozy environment of our Children’s House, and for whom we managed to find a loving family in 2017.  Five of them were adopted, 1 we returned to its biological family, and 1 we entrusted to one of our loving foster families and is now waiting to be adopted. Our Family type placement center “Children’s House” is a place for little children (up to 6 children, age 0 to 7), abandoned by their parents, oftentimes right after birth. At our Children’s House the babies receive full-time care, attention and lots of love, while our experts seek a more permanent solution for each and every one of them – return it to its biological family, adoption, or accommodating it in a foster family. In the last 5 years since its foundation, our Children’s House has been a temporary home for 38 children, 34 of which are already adopted. Thanks to the professionalism of our team and our positive cooperation with the Departments of Child Protection, each of the children only stays at the House between 4 and 6 months, after which it is either reintegrated, adopted, or entrusted to a loving foster family.  …

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A father hugged his son at home after a three-year-long battle with the institutions

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About three years ago, on the door of our Community Support Center in Sofia knocked Vladimir – a dad, carrying much bitterness in his heart and sadness in his eyes. Completely heartbroken, having lost all faith in the governmental institutions, Vlado was looking for support, to bring back his son. He told us about Vesko – his long-awaited, wanted and only son, who had just been born. On Easter. But the special day was ruined when social workers ripped Vesko from his father’s arms and took him away, somewhere where he would have to share the “love” of some unknown women with other, abandoned, unsought children. Which Vesko is not.   We took upon the case and worked on it for three whole years, during which we were by Vlado’s side, supporting him in his battle for his son, for his family, for his inherent right to be a father to his son, to take care of him, to love him. We accompanied him to all authorities, pled for him in court, worked side by side with his attorney. We nurtured his development as a person and helped him continue to be the father, who his other child – the beautiful Stella- needed.   Thanks to the dad’s perseverance and our team’s professionalism, a month ago Vlado finally brought his son back home. Today, father and son are together with mom and Vesko’s older sister. The happy family celebrated Christmas together at home – where the little guy was always awaited, having his special place.   Vlado and Vesko’s journey tells a story about distrust and misunderstanding, many fears but also tons of courage. It tells us about what it is like to have 2 children with a mentally-ill partner, what it is like to fight daily without the right to give up, and despite the fatigue, to not be able to fall asleep at the end of the day because one of your children is somewhere far away, preordained to spend the first years of its life away from its family….

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Another newborn baby was accommodated in one of “For Our Children” foundation’s foster families

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During the first 11 months of last year, 5 abandoned newborns were urgently accommodated in loving foster families, which “For Our Children” foundation works with. Today, this happened also with the little baby boy Ivaylo, who, thanks to the wonderful family of Galina and Alexey Angelov, will not spend the first months of his life in the solitude and loneliness of the orphanage but will be well taken care of and truly loved, just like any other child.   Ivaylo was abandoned right after birth – unwanted by his parents, the little boy spent the last 3 months in the hospital, awaiting his new mommy and daddy. The child was born with a problem in his development – one of his legs is not as well developed as the other. Although this problem is normally easy to overcome with regular rehabilitation, if neglected, could cause serious complications in the future. Because of this, it was very crucial for Ivo’s future development that he was moved into a loving family.   We, from “For Our Children” foundation are grateful to Galina and Alexey, which opened their hearts and home for yet another child, deprived of parental care. The family has been taking care of abandoned children since 2012 and by far has helped raise 4 children, 1 of which was reintegrated in its biological family, while the other 3 were adopted. Galina and Alexey are an example of how if given the necessary attention, love and care, every child has a chance for its own family.   “For Our Children” Foundation founded the first Foster Care Center in Bulgaria (2011). There, a team of experts gathers, trains and supports foster care parents (and candidates), who have opened up their homes for children which cannot live in their biological family. Our Foster Care Center works with 32 foster care families in Sofia and the district, which at the moment are taking care of 34 children at different…

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