On July 22, 2020, in Hall A of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sofia, in compliance with epidemiological measures and mandatory social distance, the final conference of the project “Children in focus” was held. The For Our Children Foundation is a partner of the project, together with the National Network for Children, the Parents Association, the Social Activities and Practice Institute, and the leading organization is the Association of Professional Mediators in Bulgaria.
The event started with satisfaction, thanks to the partners and a balance sheet for the work done since the beginning of 2019. It was reported. The first draft act of publicity in April 2019: Round table, during which we promoted the idea of ??the need for an interdisciplinary approach, commented on the following steps towards the main goal: to analyze practices in court proceedings in order to create a “Unified methodology for examining the best interests of the child ”. The analysis of the problem, made through surveys to courts and mediation centers in the big cities of Bulgaria, led to the conclusion that all court proceedings on family disputes concerning children move within 6 months: these are conflicts related to natural relations, which are multiplied in 7 – 8 – 10 cases, are often linked to cases under the Domestic Violence Act, the relations recur. In practice, administrative battles have been going on for years.
A study of foreign legislation found that foreign case law has tools to help them navigate complex cases of family disputes. Within the project, with joint efforts between the partner organizations and the various specialists / lawyers, mediators, psychologists, family counselors, social workers /, materials were developed for more sensitivity about the effect that a lawsuit has on children in the family. The materials were further refined and tested by experts from the project team. The “unified methodology for examining the best interests of the child” has long been a fact and is available to everyone online.
A model for information sessions for parents in conflict was created, with the message: “You are here because you love your children and want the best for them.” Of course, the unforeseen circumstances surrounding the epidemiological situation and the necessary processing of the materials online were also commented. The positive effect of this 5th project activity is a fact, there are statistically summarized results of the effect that the information sessions have on the behavior and decisions of the parents in conflict. There is also an effect from the hypothetical letter, which at the end of the form, the child writes to his parents: “Dear parents, I love both of you and this will not change after her separation.”
It is envisaged that in parallel with the option of family mediation, information sessions will exist sustainably in the courts as an opportunity to intervene in the disrupted communication between parents in conflict. Given the findings of the pilot information sessions, it was commented on upgrading and expanding the model with the participation of psychologists, therapists, consultants, child development specialists, who are from the teams of the partner organizations of the project “Children in Focus”.
At the end of the project activities, a Final Report will be prepared, taking into account all the nuances of the discussion during the conference. The event ended with the agreement of all that the conflict, in addition to a serious crisis, should be seen as an opportunity for development and change.
The project “Children in Focus” is implemented with funds from the European Social Fund, Operational Program “Good Governance”, budget line GBG 05 SF 0P001-3.003-0063, for 18 months, at a total value of BGN 85,745.48.