Government of Netherlands contributes €300,000 to UNICEF's social service project in Bulgaria
SOFIA, Bulgaria, 9 September 2008 - A project agreement for improving social services was signed between UNICEF Bulgaria and the Embassy of Netherlands. According to the agreement, the Dutch government will contribute € 300,000 euro to a pilot project, Regional Planning of Social Services, developed by UNICEF and the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy.
The official signing ceremony was hosted by Minister of Labor and Social Policy of Bulgaria, Emilia Maslarova. The ceremony was attended by Dutch Minister of EU Affairs, Frans Timmermans, Bulgarian Minister of EU Affairs, Gergana Grancharova, and other representatives from the Government and NGOs.
Minister Timmermans stated that the project is an example of EU solidarity and social inclusion agenda. Minister Maslarova expressed her gratitude both to the government of Netherlands and UNICEF for the support of the child care system reform. UNICEF Representative Octavian Bivol said: “We hope this project will make a real difference in the everyday life of children and will further improve the protection of child’s rights in Bulgaria."
The aim of the project is to optimize the utilization of human and institutional resources and to improve the access to quality services for children and their families. Capacity and interaction of regional and local stakeholders will be enhanced and a regional strategy for social services will be created. Regional and municipal authorities will receive the tools to assess the need for social services, to support high quality service delivery and to make optimal use of EU funds.
In February 2008, Mr. Timmermans visited Mogilino institution for children with disabilities where UNICEF provides assistance. During the visit, he was informed about the ongoing reforms and challenges. The Minister promised to further extend Dutch support for this sector, it being a matter of EU solidarity.
UNICEF and the Netherlands both have a long history in supporting these policies. UNICEF’s programme focuses on assisting development of social policies in the best interest of the child through implementation of projects as Technical Support Unit on Deinstitutionalization, Foster Care, Development of Alternative Services for Children and Families, Regional Planning of Social Services, Closure of the Institution in Mogilino etc. The Netherlands, through its MATRA program, has been providing since 1997 training and technical assistance and helped introduce models that focus on the needs of the individual child.
Tzvetelina Bonova, Communications Officer, UNICEF Bulgaria firstname.lastname@example.org, +359 828 424 443.