Bulgaria Multi-stakeholder conference in Bulgaria

Project : MARIO 8 May 2012

3000_bulgaria_conf_2012_smallApril 6, 2012, Sofia, Bulgaria: In the framework of the project Mario ECPAT Bulgaria organized a multi-stakeholder conference for exchange of experience and good practices in protecting children at risk. Among the 43 participants– representatives of institutions and NGOs – members of the youth group established during the Mario project were also present.

The final multi-stakeholder conference summarized the experiences of ECPAT Bulgaria during the implementation of the national and international activities of the project Mario, the good practices, the challenges and some outstanding problems. At the conference the second Situational Analysis on Some Group of Children at Risk in Bulgaria was launched, which contains data and analysis of the situation of different groups of children and the risks for them to become perpetrators of crime or victims.

During the conference Alliance for Children and Youth shared their experience from the street observation on Bulgarian children in Greece and the main outcomes of the Report Vulnerability to Exploitation and Trafficking of Bulgarian Children and Adolescents in Greece. The results and the conclusions of the two Greek-Bulgarian bilateral meetings focused on international cooperation and effective child protection of Bulgarian children in street situation in Greece. The organizers put great attention on the advocacy issues related to the problems of the Crisis centers for children in Bulgaria and the recently implemented Methodological Guidelines for work of the Crisis centers triggered a lively debate. Special attention was paid to the presentation of the NGO practice working with young volunteers and the experience of the youth group which participated in Mario activities in Bulgaria. The adult professionals and NGO representatives had the opportunity to listen to the voice of the children about their role and problems in the community and to be informed about their assessment of the national project activities oriented to young people.

The conference gave the opportunity to wide-ranging discussion on different problematic areas related to the achievement of better cooperation between different institutions on national and local levels, partnership and exchange of good practices between state and NGO actors, ensuring better protection of the children from different risks in society and establishing stable opportunities for their social integration, mobilizing the stakeholders to hear the children and youth voices.

3001_bulgaria_conf_2012_2_smallThe project Mario received very good feedback from the representatives of institutions and NGOs, especially from the Crisis centers directors who expressed their gratitude for the attention paid and the advocacy work realized in relation to their problems. Ms. Mariela Todorova – Director of Balvan Crisis Center for children, expressed her thanks for the possibility to organise professional meetings between experts, directors and psychologists from different Crisis Centers throughout Mario project; and to establish regular communication with the staff of Neglected Children Society in the direct work on difficult cases. She said: “Thanks to the support of ECPAT Bulgaria, we had the warm feeling, that we are not alone in the difficult field of child protection!”

Ms. Eva Jecheva – Director of the “Child Rights” Direction to the Ombudsman Office, gave her high estimation of the Second Situational Analysis *and stated in her speech, that a great work has been done within the 3 years of the project which was very well oriented to the *needs of the professionals working with children on one hand and to the needs of the children at risk and the children – volunteers on the other hand. The experts from child protection units and Police shared their satisfaction that the Multistakeholder conference gave them the space for multidisciplinary discussions and exchange of different opinions which they usually miss in their professional practice. Inspectors from different specialized Police units, working with children, experts from the State Agency for Child Protection and the Crisis centers and representatives of NGOs expressed their opinion that some recommendations, results and conclusions from the Multistakeholder conference and the Situational Analysis should be put to the attention of the responsible government authorities. (LZ)

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