Focus group discussions on "Strengthening the child protection system in Bulgaria" took place with the participation of teachers, social workers to municipalities, other social service providers and representatives of the police, in different major cities of the country as part of a project STRENGTHEN, co-funded by the European Union. The discussions were organized by WCIF and “Education trade union at PODKREPA CL.
On June 16th, a focus group was held in the town of Stara Zagora with 13 participants. Highlights of the discussion were the good practices of working with children at risk conducted within the education system. The need for more regular involvement of parents was highlighted. The training needs were defined as "the need to regularly refresh the knowledge of social workers, teachers and other units in the system on the most effective approaches to protection and support for children at risk or in difficult life situations".
On June 17. a focus group was also held with 21 participants in the town of Harmanli. The focus of the discussion was the good coordination achieved at local level between the different units of the system, mainly due to subjective factors. The training needs were defined within the framework of the National Protection Strategy, which highlights the need for an in-depth assessment of each case and comprehensive support combining family support measures with individual work with the child itself.
The focus group discussion in Sofia on 25.06.2020 was held with 20 participants, including representatives of the State Agency for Child Protection. The main recommendations extracted from the meeting are related to improving coordination between the different units in the child protection system and access to courses to improve the qualification of child protection workers. The continuous updating of knowledge has been highlighted as an effort to improve the quality of services in the child protection system, which is shared by all stakeholders.
The results of the focus groups will be used in developing the training program of the STRENGTHEN project.