On 25 and 26 March 2014, the National Network for Children, in partnership with the European Network for Children, Eurochild and the Ministry of Education, held a thematic workshop for the exchange of good practices in the field of early childhood development.
The international meeting was held as part of the project “Exchange and Cooperation to Improve the Welfare of Children”, funded with support from the operational programme Human Resources Development’s scheme “No Boundaries – Component 1 – Phase 2”. Representatives of organisations from 5 countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Bulgaria had the opportunity to present their best practices and discuss topics related to early childhood development. The seminar was attended by representatives of the State Agency for Child Protection, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Sofia Municipality and NGOs.
The first day was devoted to presentations of best practices, which were followed by fruitful discussions.
A non-government organization from Northern Ireland presented its “Toy Box” initiative, with a focus on inclusion and tackling poor performance and absence from school of children from marginalized communities, enhancing parental capacity and the social, emotional, physical, linguistic and cognitive development of children.
Professionals from the “Step by Step” center, Romania, talked about the “Successful Start in Life” project, the main purpose of which is to improve the quality of services in the field of early childhood development . The specific objectives of the initiative include establishing partnerships with local authorities, increasing access to and inclusion of children aged 2 to 4 years in services for early childhood development, professional competence for integrated early childhood development, increasing the skills of parents and creating a group of experts within the community.
SOS Children’s Villages Bosnia and Herzegovina presented their “Mobile kindergarten” best practice, designed to provide pre-school education, training and personal development for children in need.
Scottish non-government organizaction “Licketyspit” presented its practice of early childhood development that promotes the emotional, cognitive and social skills of disadvantaged children through participation in theatrical drama.
The Bulgarian “Helping Hand” Foundation’s “Prevention through early education” project outlined a model of working with ethnic minority children and their parents so that the family receives comprehensive support in the earliest stage of the child’s development. Children involved in the project were aged 4-6 years and divided into two preschool groups. An important approach in the work of the team is the involvement of parents in activities with children and the use of a mediator from the Roma community, as this facilitates communication and access to families and children.
Throughout the second day of the workshop, participants discussed the possibilities of sustaining best practices. They also discussed how the political context affects services for early childhood development, the necessary components to ensure service quality and the relationship between early childhood development and school dropout prevention. In addition, partners discussed possible strategies for advocacy at European and national level and how to identify common deficiencies and major difficulties in the system of services for early childhood development.
The event in pictures
Translator: Morgan James, volounteer