The largest association of organizations working for the benefit of children and families held an annual meeting. For the 15th consecutive year, the National Network for Children brought together 150 civil activists and organizations, public figures, representatives of institutions and experts from all over the country, for whom child care in health, education, justice and social services is a cause.
The forum, which took place at the end of August in Pamporovo, had a busy schedule and included trainings, discussions, working groups in the fields of Family, Health, Education and Justice.
The children from the Megaphonе youth network also got involved to express their opinion on important topics for young people.
“Community, friendship, strength” – this is how the participants see the Network, became clear from a short survey during the opening. And how the Network members feel: “supported, connected, significant, confident, motivated, understood”, the survey showed.
The meeting was historic with a change in the Statute of the Network, which gives the right to individual membership. In this way the Network will expand its scope to include civic activists for whom children’s rights to grow up in a family environment, to receive adequate education and health care, and policies to ensure them, are a mission and vocation.
The establishment of a Legal Aid Network is another important solution for the organization’s activities – it will connect lawyers with an interest in the topic of children’s rights from all over the country and they will work strategically in cases that affect the rights and interests of children. Identifying problems and the need for reform of legislation and practice and formulating concrete proposals for changes is another goal of the Legal Aid Network. During the panels the main directions of work, Code of Ethics, indicators for selection of cases were defined.
A General Assembly was also held, at which a new Management Board was elected, which includes respected experts in the field of children’s policies: Antoaneta Ivanova from the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association, Gergana Efremova from the Together in Class Foundation, Nikolay Nikolov from a non-profit association The Faithful Guardian, Burgas, Nikoleta Gabrovska from the Single Step Foundation, Sofia, Rositsa Sredkova from the Development Initiative – Kardzhali Association, Tsvetelina Kaslovska from the School Board at the Hristo Botev Primary School, Tarnava, and Rositsa Bogalinska – Petrova from the Foundation for Children at Risk around the World, who is also the new Chairman of the Board.
National Network for Children already has 136 members, and the new organizations that have joined are: the Institute of Mediation and Dispute Management, the Three Foundation, the Association of Parents of Children with Kidney Diseases, Mission Wings Foundation, Organization of the Bulgarian Scouts, Will for Life Foundation, Hestia Foundation, Experience Learning Center Association.
Among the highlights of the workshops was the panel “Cooperation between local authorities and civil society organizations“. The services for Early Childhood Intervention were discussed – a good practice with which children from 0 to 3 years with disabilities and developmental problems receive timely support from various professionals and grow as full-fledged people. One in three children, who receive such a service, later does not need special preschool education and disability classification and has the chance to lead a completely normal life without resource support, without burdening the social and health system. During the meeting, two valuable guides were presented – information material on the model of work of RDI in Karin Dom and a handbook for state institutions.
A Vision for the support of the child and the family was also discussed. In the format of “World Cafe” a wide consultation was achieved by specialists and civil activists, who gave ideas and guidelines for developing a vision that will ensure the well-being of children and parents in Bulgaria.
The meeting was in a positive atmosphere, in a spirit of optimism. The shared understanding that working for the benefit of children and parents is of great public importance and that the efforts of the organizations are understood and supported in the Network, gave new energy to the members of the most authoritative association of civil society organizations.