UNICEF and Montana Region Continue Cooperation for the Well-being of All Children
Dr. Jane Muita first field visit in the country in the region of Montana
Sofia, 6 July 2018 - Dr. Jane Muita, the newly-appointed UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria, made her first field visit in the country in the region of Montana. She wanted to personally learn about several joint projects of UNICEF, the Montana Region Administration and all municipalities in the area. These joint projects started in 2013 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at the regional level to enhance the well-being of all children. The main objective of the partnership is to create a functional model and a system of effective services to support young children and their parents, children at risk and vulnerable families and communities. The interventions include: implementation of some of the best practices in the world regarding child care, child protection, juvenile justice reforms and actions to establish and safeguard the proper implementation of the UN Child Rights Convention.
Dr. Muita had meetings with representatives of local authorities, central administration, service providers, families and children where she saw the progress and discussed opportunities for improvement. She also introduced the main components of the new Cooperation Programme for the period 2018-2022 between UNICEF and the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria. It was noted that strong and sustainable progress in child wellbeing and child protection can be achieved only when local authorities and communities, central administration, business and civil society join their efforts and work together.
“I am really impressed with the passion, expertise, commitment and collaboration of the different partners contributing to the fulfilment of rights of children in this region. UNICEF will continue to partner and provide technical support in the areas covered under this new country programme 2018-2022 achieving greater results for children.” said Dr. Muita.
The implementation of the MoU in Montana region is facilitated by a Regional Coordination Group, chaired by the Deputy Governor – the group includes representatives of all 11 Municipalities, Regional Directorate Social Assistance, Regional Education Inspectorate, Regional Health Inspectorate, Regional Police Directorate, Regional & District Courts and Prosecutors’ Offices, NGOs. The following services have been developed within this cooperation and Dr. Muita was able to visit some of them:
1. Family Counselling Centre (FC). In 2016 in Montana Region 2 FCs were set up – in the towns of Montana and Berkovitsa, with 1 branch in Varshets. Social workers, social assistants, nurses and psychologists work in the FCs. FCs offer a package of programmes and services tailored to the needs of communities:
:: Training and support for skills development in care for young children – feeding, nurturing care, stimulation, education;
:: Prevention of early marriages and early childbearing – changing community norms, identifying girls at risk, knowledge and skills for sexual and reproductive health;
:: Motivation, assistance and support for enrolling in education services – kindergarten, school, completion of a particular level of education by adults;
:: Prevention and identification of violence against children and women;
:: Information provision, mediation and support for family planning;
:: Mediation and information provision on access to public services – social assistance, health care, housing.
2. Innovative Service for Children Victims and Witnesses of Crime “Zona ZaKrila – Child Advocacy & Support Centre” – launched in 2015 in Montana. The Child Advocacy Centre aim to support children victims of violence and their families during all judicial proceedings (the process of preliminary investigation, the pre-trial and trial stages), as well as in the process of physical and emotional recovery. With the introduction of the Child Advocacy Centres, UNICEF aims to support the development of a model for community-based service for children victims of violence and their families as well as an effective mechanism for coordination and collaboration at local and national levels in the recognition and response to violence against children. After independent evaluation of the impact, UNICEF will support the Government to scale up the model nationwide.
3. “Let’s Grow Together – Workshops for Parents” programme - since 2013. That is a program for early childhood development, organized by UNICEF in Bulgaria in partnership with community centers, municipalities, libraries and kindergartens. The Workshop provides parents of children up to 4 years of opportunity to share their experiences, knowledge and concerns about raising and communicating with their young children in the presence of specialists. During the Workshops, parents learn about the main psychological needs of children in the respective age group, and how to encourage their child’s cognitive and emotional development, how to set boundaries without ending up resorting to abuse, and how to communicate with their young child efficiently.
4. Implementation of the “Together from the Kindergarten” project – launched in 2015. It promotes an inclusive learning environment in 3 kindergartens in Montana - Detelina, Buratino, Prikazen sviat, where children with disabilities can realize their right to learn, play and grow together with their peers.
5. Introduction of Child Rights Education in schools – following the recommendations from the 2015 national consultation with children, UNICEF Bulgaria in partnership with the Ministry of Education supports the introduction of CRE in ten pilot schools as an extra curriculum activity through the establishment of UNICEF Clubs. During 2017-2018 school year four Clubs in Montana region have continued their activities and developed different initiatives to promote child rights – in Montana, Berkovitsa, Vladimirovo and Lom.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.