With funding of OAK Foundation, “For Our Children” foundation is carrying out a project “Care at Early Age” through which is working on achieving its aim to improve the development and welfare of children at early age (0-7 yrs.). With research and advocacy activities, as well as through direct field work, the project aims to support the improvement of the policy and practice regarding early childhood development in health and educational system by introducing an integrated socio-health approach to the care of children at early age.
In our activities, we are led by the apprehension of the key importance of the investments in early childhood development as a leading tool for compensating the inequalities in the family environment and the stimulation of the economic growth. The early childhood and the programs for early childhood development play a crucial role in the health condition, education, social and emotional welfare and professional success in a person`s whole life. With this project For Our Children Foundation will support the improvement of the policy and practice regarding early childhood development in Bulgaria and will support the partnership and coordination between the systems for care in the name of the child`s best interest.
Period of performance of the project: April 2016 – March 2019
Funding organization: OAK Foundation, http://oakfnd.org/contact
Main aim of the project: Improving the development and welfare of the children at early age (0-7 yrs.) by introducing an integrated socio-health approach in the care.
Main directions of the project:
- Field work with children and families in need in at least 6 health/social institutions in Sofia and Plovdiv
- Research at national level of the influence that the systems around the child have on its development and safety
- Advocacy for development and acceptance of an integrated national strategy for early childhood development
Activities in the “Field work” direction
The aim of the field work is improving the policies and practices of providing care for children at early age in the covered health and social institutions in Sofia and Plovdiv. By introducing innovative models and a family-oriented approach towards the care of children at early age, the aim is the increasing of the resources and the capacity of the places for providing quality care. The activities are conformed to the needs of each place of field work according to its specific profile and the individual plan prepared on the basis of previous research. It is formed a mobile multidisciplinary team of specialists in the field of the care for children at early age (psychologist, early intervention specialist, babysitter, rehabilitation therapist), who supports all places. The field work also includes activities such as organizing special trainings, informational meetings, discussions, etc., which aim to increase the capacity of the staff for work with the child and the family, as well as improving the parental abilities, socializing activities with children and spreading information materials. It is also planned an exchange of good practices between the services and ennoblement of the physical environment of the places, for which is required an examination of the policies for child protection and their actualization with the purpose of confirmation and respecting child`s rights.
Activities in “Research” direction
The aim of the research is to examine the influence of the influence of the health, social and educational systems on children at early age (0-7 yrs.) and their safety, as the results will support the process of creating an integrated national strategy for early childhood development and the processes of reforming the systems for care for children at early age. The research is conducted in partnership with Child and Space Association and the Institute for Population and Human Studies at Bulgarian academy of science.
The research has the goal to examine the interactions and interconnections between the systems, as well as the level they work together at in support of early childhood development in the services, providing care for children at early age (cr?ches, hospitals, social services, etc.). The practical application of the family-oriented approach in the state care of children is examined – whether the health, social and educational systems use mechanisms for including parents, whether parents feel supported in the care for their children, as well as the place that the interaction between the systems and the parents takes. There is also included a research of the care for children with special needs and disabilities at early age, the effectiveness of the measurements of the state for integrating these children, as well as the support that is given to their parents. The data of the research will be presented at a national conference with a wide participation in May 2017.
Activities in “Advocacy” direction
The aim of the advocacy is to support the process of developing a national integrated policy for early childhood development, which will endorse the development of approaches and practices in the care, guaranteeing the interest and rights of the children between 0 and 7 years old. For that purpose is expected to be formed an Expert Advisory Board with representatives of a wide range of interested sides, including the responsible institutions, civil society, academic circles and international experts. The project of the strategy will offered for public consulting and will be conducted a wide range of consultations on expert level, as well as with the general public. The advocacy activities will also include a public campaign for providing social support for accepting of the strategy at a national level, as well as a re-active advocacy for achieving reforms in all spheres connected with the investing in the care for children, including the children of the vulnerable groups.
The project will end in the end of March 2019 with a national closing conference, on which will be presented the overall influence of the project activities and the results of the field work.