The National Foster Care Association is a Bulgarian non-governmental organization that assists children at risk in guaranteeing their right to a safe childhood, supported by adults. The organization has been working in partnership with „A1” Bulgaria for 7 years, and in 2019, after a large-scale initiative to introduce the SmartAd application, the organization received funding for the implementation of the “Parents+” programme. The “Parents+” programme is being implemented at a time when the country is affected by a pandemic threat - the development of COVID-19.
The “Parents+” programme aims:
• to support native families with an investment in their parental capacity,
• to increase their skills to take care of their children,
• to demonstrate a good model of interaction between foster parents and native families.
The main goal of the initiative is to prevent separation between children and families by supporting parents to take good care of their children.
Key priorities of the “Parents+” programme
• To develop a partner network of foster parents to support native families in financial difficulties;
• To invest knowledge, skills and competencies for good care;
• To reduce the opportunities and risks of violence and child abuse due to inability to take good care;
• Establish a relationship between foster parents and community social service providers, as well as a child protection system, with a clear understanding that the child is a value and parenting needs support.
The main resource of the programme
The main resource of the programme is the foster parents, who are the so called "Parents+". Their professional training as foster parents is a guarantee that they have the competencies and skills to recognize the symptoms of poor care, as well as the skills to educate and develop families at risk of separation between children and parents. The implementation of the programme includes 14 foster parents from 14 regions of the country, who provide support services to families to improve the care of their children. In order to meet the requirements of the state, the National Foster Care Association is registered as a provider of social services - Mobile center for information, counseling, training and support of adults at risk ( license number: 01686-0001 from 30.08.2019).
Licensing of social associates
In order to meet the requirements for direct social work with families at risk, the 14 social foster parents have a professional qualification in the profession "Social worker" 7620201 "Social work with children and families at risk"). Foster parents, in the role of social workers, participate in the implementation of various social activities, inform, research, support the planning of measures and activities, support the implementation of social work, including mobile, know and apply the laws and regulations in the field of social assistance, child protection. The activities carried out by social workers are aimed at helping biological parents to ensure their rights in the provision of social services: information, counseling and mediation.
Services provided to families at risk:
• For the rights in the health, social, educational system
• For the possibilities for labor adaptation and realization
• Recognizing the needs of children
• Seeking support and mobilizing it in the community
• Presentation to institutions and seeking support
• Social skills
• Childcare skills ( practical skills)
Key services provided under the programme
Formation and development of parenting skills
The service is aimed at future parents, parents from vulnerable groups who do not take adequate care of their children and put them at risk. The purpose of the service is to form parenting skills, to work on building the parent-child relationship, increase the self-confidence of parents and provide support. The programme supports pregnant mothers, future parents, parents of children from 0 to 3 years, parents who neglect their children. The programme provides individual work with future parents and parents of children at risk.
Family counseling and support
The service is offered in order to expand the opportunities for social inclusion of parents by developing social skills - communication, budgeting, job search and parenting; facilitating parents' access to various services and institutions; increase motivation for family planning by providing information on reproductive health, contraceptive methods, sexually transmitted diseases; overcoming child neglect and violence. The aim of the programme is to support families in raising their children, to overcome family difficulties and to develop skills and resources for full social integration and realization. The programme works individually with parents.
NFCA's partnership with „A1”
„A1” is a long-term partner of NFCA. From the beginning of the partnership until now the company has invested and supported various forms of financing foster care in our country with over BGN 300,000. The telecom supports the holding of an annual national camp for foster children, provides student aids for students from foster families, and the older ones receive career counseling for young people. In recent years, special evenings have been organized for high school graduates, as well as surveys that show that support for foster care in our country has been increasing.