On June 28th, 2013 at “Sofia Princess” Hotel 100 representatives of the public authorities, the NGO sector and other shareholders learned about a method for including children and youths in the decision-making process called Person-Centred Planning and discussed its future implementation in Bulgaria.
In February-May 2013 the method was implemented in the Family-type Centre “Siyanie” for Children and Young Adults with Intellectual Difficulty in Kyustendil, managed by The Cedar Foundation, as a result of a partnership between the Foundation, the Kyustendil Municipality and the Welsh organization Learning Disability Wales under the project “Users’ Involvement in the Decision-Making Process – a Step Towards a Complete Social Integration.”
Lindsay Saltsgiver asked the participants to raise their hand if they chose what to wear that day and then reminded them that a lot of children and adults with intellectual difficulty in Bulgaria are not given the opportunity to make daily choices like this. She presented the good practices for involving disadvantaged children and youths in the decision-making process in Wales and pointed out the flaws in Bulgarian legislation in this respect. Mrs Saltsgiver described the main aspects of Person-Centred Planning as a process of “constantly listening and understanding” through which we can gather information about what is important for the person with intellectual difficulty and how he/she wants to be supported.
Margarita Parmakova – Manager of the Family-type Homes “Siyanie” in Kyustendil spoke about the implementation of the innovative approach in the social service. Her story was accompanied by a presentation of some of the so-called “tools” that the approach uses as a means of expression for people with intellectual difficulty through which they present themselves in the community and plan their future. These tools can represent a photo album, a favourite item, a one-page profile, and so on and were shown by the users of “Siyanie” while their social therapists talked about the challenges and successes of their work with the approach. One of the users spontaneously decided to show the audience a newly-found passion – photography by taking a few pictures during the conference with his own camera. Similar tools were created by the participants in the conference in small working groups.
The project’s sustainability for the implementation of the innovative approach is ensured through the development of a municipal strategy for including the users of social services on the territory of the Kyustendil Municipality in the decision-making process. This aspect of the project was presented by Radostina Nocheva – Director of the Municipal Enterprise “School nutrition”. She also spoke about the achievements of the Municipality in finding jobs for some of the users of the Family-type Home “Siyanie”.
Source: The Cedar Foundation