Early Intervention and Home Counseling



There are many people in Bulgaria-specialists and parents, who are convinced that children should be raised in a family environment. But there are thousands of children with disabilities who live in specialized institutions, separated from their families due to the lack of service for prevention from abandoning in an institution, namely the early intervention and home counseling. Poverty, disability, lack of information or access to services are also possible reasons for abandoning children. Our goal is to improve their life and to give them the chance to get a better quality of care, corresponding to their individual needs.

First of all, parents with small children should be prevented from being forced by circumstances to send their children to institutions. Parents with disabled children should be supported in such a way, so that they will be able to take care of their own child. Not only the researches we have made show that parents with disabled children need information, emotional, practical and social support. They should be provided the necessary information in an accessible language, so they can understand in and make informed decisions in order to realize what happens to them. This encourages parents to be more responsible to their children. They should obtain information about social services in the region, where they can ask for assistance. Currently, parents obtain little financial aid, provided in case they admit the disability of their child and submit the required documents in the local social services.

         Prevention from abandoning children with disabilities in institutions

This action is related to the implementation of early diagnosis and intervention for stimulating the development of a child and supporting his/her relation to the family. In the beginning, each child-client of the service will have his/her needs evaluated by the multidisciplinary team. Our intention is each child and family to work systematically and long enough, so that a real benefit from the intervention can be accomplished. After the exact needs of the child and the family are established, a certain individual schedule for the development of the child, the work of different specialist and visits to the family will be prepared. The number of real clients will be a few times bigger, because in order to support the child, we have to work actively with the representatives of his/her closest family circle.

The early intervention should give parents the feeling that they are good parents, capable of coping up with the special needs of the child. Parents are the best teachers for their child. They can teach him/her many things if they know how to stimulate his/her development.

With professional assistance parents learn how to react in a sensitively appropriate way for the child.

Parents need to talk about the emotional impact to have a child with a disability. Professional assistance is necessary, but contact with other parents of children with disabilities is also useful.

Families with disabled children should obtain additional practical, financial and household assistance, day-care centers, specialized nannies at home, etc.

Since 2009, during meetings with parents, they have expressed the need to know more about stimulation and the early development of their child, they want to be supported emotionally, practically. Specialists from the team for early intervention can help them become even more confident in their abilities to be “teachers” of their own child.

On the other hand, our researches show that children can do well in day-care centers, but cause many problems at home. This leads to the need of mobile service so that parents can be assisted and given practical advice in their particular home environment, including all members of the certain family.

In order for the service “Early Intervention and Home Counseling ” to work effectively, several components are necessary.

  1. Identifying children and families who are in a need for the service “Early Intervention and Home Counseling”

This activity is related to the establishment of contacts with neonatology wards in general hospitals in the municipality of Pazardzhik, Social Assistance Services, Department of Child Protection, local administration, medical practices, children wards, social institutions, etc. Through meetings, correspondence, telephone conversations and information materials they will be familiar with the service. These communicational channels are extremely important.

Customers of the service will be collected through direct application by parents as well. Customer of the service can be each child from 0 to 10 years, which is in a risk of abandonment, as well as each family that faces difficulties in raising a child due to his/her disability. A necessary requirement (therapeutic) is customers to be willing to ask for help or to be hesitating about their decision.

     2.   Preparation of methodology and documentation for the “Early Intervention and Home Counseling” service

With the start of the project our team will be involved in the preparation of specialized documentation for the organization of the working process. Within the activity, Methodology for providing specific services in early intervention and home counseling /mobile care/  will be developed (psychological, social, educational, speech, rehabilitation, medical), which will be a common tool for the synchronization of the responsibilities and actions of the team.

  1. Home counseling and family support

The activity aims to increase the capacity of parents and to support relatives of a child with a disability through the conduction of social, psychological and medical consultations in a home environment, which will help the family overcome specific problems related to the raise of the child, develop the child-family relationship and become the basis for prevention from abandonment.

  1. Multidisciplinary team:

After an evaluation of the experience gained through the implementation of other projects and human resources available to our organization, we decided to form the following multidisciplinary team which will correspond to the offered services.

     Manager and special pedagogue, whose responsibilities are establishing a system for project management; assigning tasks and responsibilities to members of the team; monitoring project activities; preparing project execution reports; managing relations with institutions and supervising authorities; coordinating project operational activities. As a supervisor of the Center for early intervention and home counseling, he/she will administer the business, implement contacts between institutions and monitor the provision of quality services for customers. He/she combines the work of the second special pedagogue as well.

     Accountant– half- time occupied, who will be responsible for the daily management of funds; preparation of financial statements; coordination of financial operations; preparation and conduction of the complete financial documentation.

     Pediatrician/nurse– part- time

     Psychologist– half- time, will be related not only to the work with children with disabilities, but to the one with their families and relatives as well. With regard to the work with children, the psychologist will implement psychological help and support, observe their current status, contribute to the development of a parent-child relationship, support their social inclusion, etc. In addition to this, the psychologist will consult the family of the disabled child while supporting it to accept the disability of the child.

     Physiotherapist / rehabilitation– his /her specific functions are related to the conduction of rehabilitation and physiotherapy procedures, consulting parents how to continue the stimulation in home environment, following the children motor development and their emotional tonus.

     Social worker- coordinator– will be involved in the coordination with all institutions, relevant to the well-being of the child and its relatives, will carry out social evaluation of the family, support the clients in their need to use public resources, consult clients and their families on social issues, establish a connection between other institutions and professionals.

Special pedagogue- his/ her main task consists of training the children , preparing individual working plans for each child, working on basal and sensor stimulation, cooperation with parents.

     Speech therapist– the work is related to the assessment of the speech development of the child, communicative disorders diagnosis and selection of appropriate therapeutic methods and means, individual speech-correction work, speech therapy of communicative disorders in development with linguistic deficiency and  secondary disorders of the oral language, consulting parents and relatives to help children speech development.

     Sanitary officer– two hours per day (10 hours per week totally)

  1. Facilities   

The NET Foundation has a dispose of the first floor in the building of the former Regional Pedagogical Center, located in Pazardzhik, bul. Alexander Stamboliyski 48, with a total area of 100 squared meters and a big yard, which can also be used for basal and sensor stimulation of children with disabilities, for an open- air work as well. The building is situated in the central part of the town near the Child Protection Department, referring  to the Department of Social Support- Pazardzhik

Our main idea is to invest in a pilot project, where professionals and parents can develop the best practice together. Both parts to be equal partners in the process of transition. Parents want to take full responsibility of their children, but they feel the necessity of being supported. Both sides- parents and professionals want to be a part of this project for early intervention and home support.

This is also a possible way for prevention from being settled in specialized institutions for children with disabilities. Not less important are the new working places available for the implementation of the service- special pedagogue, psychologist, speech therapist, accountant, social worker, rehabilitation therapist, part-time pediatrician, nurse and a guaranteed increase in the knowledge of the team which will be conducted through the already existing international contacts with partners- trainers. For the realization of this service, we do possess sufficient knowledge and skills and would like to be supported.