Early childhood intervention is the best and proven way of working with children with disabilities, developmental delays, behavioral and mental problems. This is also the most effective prevention of separation of parents and their children and placing them in institutions and homes for children with disabilities. A national system for early childhood intervention based on a family-oriented approach has to be established in Bulgaria. This was the conclusion made during a round table, held in Sofia on 21 June. The event was organized by the National Network for Children and gathered nearly 50 representatives of institutions, civil organizations working in early childhood intervention, universities and municipalities.
Early intervention helps 70% of children, but only if it is applied on time, professionally and includes the support of parents and wider family circle. In this way children can reach their full potential for development and become more happier and productive members of society. Early intervention reduces health and social services cost, dropping out of school and isolation of the child and his family.
This data, based on the US practices was presented by Dr. Emily Vargas Baron – one of the most prominent international experts in this field, who was a special guest of the event.
She visited Bulgaria several months ago and assessed the legal and strategic framework for establishing an integrated and sustainable system for early childhood intervention in Bulgaria.
Currently, there are such services in Bulgaria but they are fragmented and there is no national policy to support families of children with similar problems and sustainable funding.
To prepare the analysis Dr. Emily Baron held a series of visits and meetings with key representatives of institutions, local authorities, parliamentarians, academics and non-governmental organizations providing early childhood intervention services in the country.
During the discussion Dr. Baron presented the main recommendations for Bulgaria, the possible policy tools and actions in strategic planning to develop a sustainable and integrated national network of early childhood intervention services.
Participants had the opportunity to see a short video created by Foundation Life with Down Syndrome – Varna, with parents and brother of little Mikaela showing how bravely and joyfully she overcomes all prejudices and external limitations and how she attends a kindergarten being completely independent and developing so fast as the other kids do.
“After intensive work with children with Down syndrome at early age, they can achieve 90 points and even more on IQ tests as the average is 100 points. In the past, when the early childhood intervention wasn’t applied, children with Down had reached only 40-50 IQ points, “said Dr. Baron.
The event is part of the project “Assembling the Puzzle: Sustainable Family-Oriented Approach and Early Intervention in Bulgaria”, supported by a grant from the Foundation Open Society Institute.
See Summary of Dr. Emily Vargas Baron’s Final Report Early Childhood Intervention Final Report Early Childhood Intervention (DOCX, 25 KB)