Day-care Center for Youth: alternatives to street life

Project location: BULGARIA
Project start date: July 2006 - Project end date: July 2009
Project number: 2006-10
Beneficiary: The Alliance for Children and Youth

MAY 2008 Update 


Activities and services under the project:

Based on the understanding of homelessness as a temporary crisis and not as a permanent unchangeable phenomenon, the work of the 16+ team is set on three main levels:

Work with children and youths in crisis.
Work for support and maintenance of the achieved results.
Programs for positive change and development.

1. First level - work with children and youths in crisis.

Life under stress in a risky environment is often bound to result in a crisis. Therefore, we concentrated on the first level on children and adolescents who have experienced violence, suffered losses, been in detention while awaiting trial and being released from penitentiaries and reformatories. The activities involve crisis interventions, rendering psychological aid and social assistance, as well as establishing contacts with partner organizations for further referral when it comes to the best interests of the clients. About two thirds of the 16+ YDCC clients are in a crisis situation and need special assistance. The assistance rendered on this level is rather specific and on a case-by-case basis, while the general objective is to get the clients out of this level and incorporate them into the next two levels.

In the grant period, the vast majority of our efforts were concentrated on adolescents in a crisis situation. In addition, our team maintained close contacts with the relevant physicians when the term of delivery of mothers-to-be from the 16+ YDCC was drawing to a close - 2 cases.

We often had to provide emergency care to girls who had found out that they were pregnant a bit too late. In order to overcome the stress, such young women were badly in need of both psychological and medical care; in addition, their pregnancy had to be regularly monitored - 3 cases.

Our team also provided assistance to young married couples, whose children were in hospital, by purchasing medicines for the children and rendering psychological assistance to the parents - 5 cases.

Jointly with the media, we took care of some young people who were going to be left on the street after they had arrived in the city from the country. After helping overcome the initial crisis, we followed up the development of the said cases, coordinating our efforts with those of the relevant government institutions which were in charge of accommodating such persons in places where they were going to be protected - 2 cases.

We managed to accommodate 2 young mothers in mother-and-baby institutions and maintained contact with them all the time, thus managing to prevent them from neglecting their babies in orphanages.

We continued to render psychological and social assistance to the young people who had either been released from penitentiaries or reformatories or were still accommodated there. We would also like to mention our joint work with the teams of the crisis centers outside Sofia where some of our clients spent a period of time - 12 cases.

During the period under review, we managed to help a solitary mother, who was living in an institution for temporary placement with her baby, to get a flat from the municipal housing stock where she lives now and expects to give birth to her second baby.

There was another case where some young people and their family were going to remain without a home due to demolition of the house in which they lived. We undertook in this case a number of social and psychological interventions in order to render support to their health and their psychological state - 3 cases.

We continued to help the young people to obtain the documents they needed in order to be accommodated in institutions for temporary placement. To this effect, and on an entirely new level, we already have our relationships with the social assistance services of a couple of municipalities. We have also managed to further consolidate our cooperation with the Child Protection Departments in a number of towns throughout the country.

During the same period, we established contacts and coordinated our efforts with a representative of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee in a law-suit against skin-heads who had attacked two of the 16+ YDCC members. We also worked in close cooperation with the police departments and the juvenile probation institutions. When rendering assistance to adolescents in a crisis situation, we often got the support of volunteers, some of whom lived abroad.
During the period we worked with more than 15 young people who were accommodated in the home for temporally placement but they had to leave this home because of changes in the regulation.

Very important was our work with sexually abused young women together with different partners from governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

2. At work for support and maintenance of the achieved results level.

Activity 1 - Outreach. The field work of the team involved protection against exploitation, physical and psychic abuse. Working on the street, the team-members helped to bring up-to-date the existing database concerning the number of homeless and unemployed children and adolescents, collected and analyzed information about their age, sex, state of health, education, addictions, how they earned their living, where they slept at night, etc. They also gathered information about the social and family background of these people, as well as of their criminal records, in order to be able to make an assessment of the individual needs. Any field work involves the use of the methods of social and psychological work, such as: showing understanding and rendering support, providing information about some health problems and the harm caused by drugs, as well as about contraceptives and safe sex, referring the young people to the 16+ YDCC and some other institutions and organizations, as the case may be.

The team of social workers made 169 rounds of the streets (including the ghettoes), thus carrying out different assignments. During the field work this year, we managed to motivate some young people who had not visited the 16+ YDCC for a couple of months, to visit it again with their new requests, and, as it turned out, with problems with some institutions, such as Child Protection Department and the regional police directorates.

During this period, we worked in the field with a 16+ YDCC-member - a young woman who, due to a serious family crisis, had gone out in the street again, leaving her children to be taken care of by her partner. We repeatedly organized meetings with the partner and with members of the extended family and, as a result, the previous relationship was restored.

In addition, during the field work we rendered assistance to a young man who was quite helpless, as he had a mental disease and lived permanently on the street. We had received a signal about this man which indicated that the people think of the 16+ YDCC as a place which offers prompt and professional care to the people from the street. While working on this case, we enjoyed the understanding of some of our partner-institutions, and were, at the same time, confronted with serious difficulties and bureaucratic irregularities which makes it impossible to settle the problems of such people with mental and physical disorders once and for all.

Activity 2 - Socio-psychological work - a major activity that underlies all other activities performed in the 16+ YDCC. It involves an individual request that has to be filed by every adolescent or young person. Every request is to be discussed by the 16+ YDCC team, which is to decide upon the admittance of the young person on the basis of specific requirements. Afterwards, a mutual agreement has to be reached with the young person on the work to be done with him/her, and an individual integration-oriented development plan has to be jointly mapped out.

Total number of social and psychological services provided - 4714.

Within the framework of this activity, we updated the personal development plans of 178 young persons on the basis of the short-term and long-term objectives that had been agreed upon in these plans.

24 young people were issued personal identity cards and one adolescent was issued a foreign passport so that he could take part in a festival abroad.

19 young people got permanent jobs and already receive legal income.

11 young people maintain successful registration in the employment services.

9 young people were rendered assistance to find a family doctor.

Assistance was also rendered to some young people who had been released from prison.

19 young people were enrolled in construction courses, 10 young girls - in dressmaking courses, and another 6 young girls - in hairdressers' courses.

Throughout the period, social and psychological assistance was granted to some young mothers and their partners, who already have babies.

In addition to the clients that normally visit us, we worked with 16+ YDCC clients who are either serving a sentence or live in the country. Our team continues to rely on the cooperation of external partners that render substantial assistance to the young people who are going through difficult times in their lives.

During the students' internships and practices, some university students established very useful contacts with the young people.

We often offered advice to mothers whose children are in institutions. In some of the cases this resulted in more frequent visits to their children which, in turn, had had a favorable effect on the children themselves (according to the teams of the relevant institutions with whom we maintain regular contacts).

Some of the couples that live out of wedlock had continuous problems with their extended families, which made it necessary to offer daily social and psychological advice to the young men and women and to jointly analyze the problematic relationships.

We continued to offer assistance to some young mothers, trying to help them to enroll their children in the kindergarten but this turned out to be extremely difficult because of the insufficient vacancies there.

We worked jointly with some NGOs which resulted in enrolling one 16+ YDCC member in a literacy course.

We continued to assist other 16+ YDCC members to obtain certificates of corrections and medical certificates which they needed in order to get appointed to work.

During the last quarter of 2007, our team offered extensive assistance in the process of finding jobs not only for the 16+ YDCC members, but also for some young people from the "St. Sophia" Institution for Temporary Placement of Orphans, some of which expressed the wish to become our members. Similar assistance was also rendered to all those who visited the 16+ YDCC as guests.

Throughout the year we concentrated our efforts to motivate those whom we had helped to find jobs, to keep their jobs.

During the same period, we had to offer regular social and psychological advice to some married couples with children and invited for the purpose to the 16+ YDCC members of their extended families. Some of our team-members had to visit some 16+ YDCC members in their homes because of some health, social and everyday life problems which had cropped up in their families.

We continued to help the young people in the process of obtaining their personal identity cards and birth certificates by establishing contacts with the regional police directorates and the relevant municipalities.

Activity 3 - Legal Advocacy Clinic:
A total of 593 legal consultations were provided to 139 clients. The consultations are provided by an external lawyer.

During the period under review, the lawyer provided 259 consultations and offered advice in the area of social assistance and of administrative, employment, social security and family law; there were some other consultations on the provision of social assistance benefits, on the conditions for the provision of social services, on filling out documents for card-indexing and work, on origin claims and increases in the child support money, on the exercise of parental rights, origin, and adoption, on measures for the protection of children at risk, on accommodation in special institutions, on discrimination, on transfers to other jobs for health reasons, on the access to health care and protection of the health insurance rights, on filing applications for the provision of housing from the housing funds, on the issuance of personal identity documents and registration of the unemployed, on the enrollment in training courses, on finding jobs, signing of employment contracts, protection of the rights to employment, etc. Assistance was rendered to some young people, helping them to obtain new birth certificates and a personal identity cards which were to replace the ones that had been either stolen or lost.

The other set of legal services that were provided by the lawyer were in the area of criminal law and legal proceedings, and involved clarification of the rights and obligations of young people as perpetrators or victims of a crime; assistance was rendered to the young people in their contacts with the investigation service, the court, the public prosecutor's office, the police, the penitentiary institutions, and the probation services. The young people were offered advice in the pre-trial phase of the penal process, involving their ex-officio defenders who had to see to the observation of their procedural rights in the two phases of the penal process.

During the period under review, 334 such consultations were provided.

As a result, some young people have managed to overcome their passive position of a victim and have become more confident to start asserting their rights and fulfilling their obligations as citizens.

In the same period, we organized 12 training courses for both the team-members and the 16+ YDCC volunteers. The courses helped the staff to extend their competences in the relevant sphere and to acquire practical knowledge and skills.

The work done under Activity 3 also comprises the circulation and promotion of a brochure entitled "My rights" which was published by the Alliance for Children and Youth and contains some excerpts of the training materials which are rendered in a language that is understandable to the young people.

Activity 4 - Medical services The following medical services were provided during the year: in the area of disease prevention "mantu" tests were made; these were followed by anti-hepatitis and anti-flu vaccinations, medical check-ups for blood and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as by other medical examinations, which were needed in the individual cases; treatment of diseases; medical manipulations; health education and consultations.

The total number of medical services that were provided in this period was 527.

Out of these, 58 young people were tested for MANTU, HIV and WASS at the Sexual Health Center at No 2, Zdrave Street. The rest of the young people received medical care from specialist-physicians from the following medical establishments:
• The John Paul II Medical Center at No 15, Montevideo Street: 4 cases - from a dermatologist; 2 cases - from an eye specialist; 7 cases - from an internist; and 5 cases - from an ear, nose-and-throat doctor;
• І Regional Dispensary for the Prevention of Tuberculosis - 54 cases. Out of these, 1 case was hospitalized for the treatment of tuberculosis and 2 cases - for general treatment and observation in the dispensary;
• Gynecological clinics (I Gynecological Hospital, Sofia, and the Maternity Ward of II Sofia City Hospital): 8 cases for consultations and 4 cases for babies hospitalization;
• The Regional Mental Diseases Dispensary: 2 consultations with a psychiatrist and 3 cases for obtaining a document for accommodation in an institution for temporary accommodation;
• The "Pirogov" Emergency Hospital - 6 consultations and 3 incisions;
• Dental clinics: consultations and treatment of 21 cases.

There were 2 women in child-birth in 2007 whom we provided with medical consumables in the post-natal period.

There were 11 cases in the 16+ YDCC in 2007 with parasites (nits and head lice) which were consulted and treated accordingly.

In 12 cases surgical bandages were applied following traumas.

10 cases were referred to the Parasitological Department of the Regional Inspectorate for the Protection and Control of Public Health on the grounds of intestinal contagious diseases.

Influvac vaccines were administered prior to the winter 2007-2008 season in order to prevent respiratory diseases.

Tuberculosis prevention was carried out in the 16+ YDCC by applying Mantu tests in 2007.

In addition, the state of health of all young people visiting the Center was monitored every day.

Statistical data:
• MANTU, HIV and WASS - 58;
• Referrals to the Regional Inspectorate for the Protection and Control of Public Health - 12;
• Referrals to the Parasitological Department of the Regional Inspectorate for the Protection and Control of Public Health - 10;
• Consultations with ear, nose-and throat doctors - 5;
• Consultations with internists from the Medical Center at No 15, Montevideo Street - 7;
• Consultations with eye specialists from the Medical Center at No 15, Montevideo Street
- 2;
• Consultations with dermatologists from the Medical Center at No 15, Montevideo Street
- 4;
• Consultations at the Sexual Health Center - 58;
• Consultations with, and treatment by a dentist - 21 ;
• Consultations at the І Regional Dispensary for the Prevention of Tuberculosis - 54;
• Hospitalization in I Gynecological Hospital, Sofia - 4;
• Hospitalization in the Maternity Ward of II Sofia City Hospital - 2;
• Consultations with a psychiatrist from the Regional Mental Diseases Dispensary - 2;
• A consultation at the Dermatological Clinic of Alexandrovska Hospital - 1.

Activity 5 - Sanitary-hygienic activities Activities - providing to the young people an opportunity to use a bathroom, laundry, sanitary materials; removal of parasites; provision of newly purchased underwear, as well as of newly purchased or donated shoes and clothing (according to a fixed limit and on the basis of the personal preference of the young people).

Total number of this kind of service provided during the year - 3533.

This service will continue to be among the services that are continuously offered by the 16+ YDCC.

Activity 6 - Provision of food - a sandwich and a hot drink once a day. The food is provided in the form of sandwiches, doughy snacks, fruit and effervescent vitamins.

Total number of this kind of service provided during the year - 4108.

3. At programs for positive change and development level - the following activities.

Activity 7 - Program "Youth Committee".
Total number of participants - 53

The aim of this program is to secure the active participation of the young people in the management of the 16+ YDCC, the adequate performance of activities in individual spheres, the further motivation of the rest of the young people, as well as the attraction of new Ceenter members.

During the year, the young people visited some concerts staged at the National Palace of Culture and took an active part in the happenings that were organized out in the open. Some of them were invited to take part in the broadcasts of some electronic media and to express their opinion on both the highlights of the day, as well as on topics of their personal interests.

There is a growing tendency among the young people to help one another when looking for employment. They exchange information about the vacancies that they are aware of. Those of them who have already found a suitable job try to find similar jobs for the rest of the young men and women at the 16+ Center and negotiate with the employers.

During the summer, when the 16+ DCYC was being rehabilitated, some of the young people voluntarily helped the workers with the repair works and with the cleaning afterwards.

Activity 8 - Training in social skills (involving major communicative skills, assertive behavior, seeking work and applying for a job, etc.)

The young people are trained individually, as well as in small groups, to acquire the major communicative skills which will help them to find a job and their own place in life more easily.

Total number - 134.

The training in social skills was quite informal and was organized by the social workers and the 16+ YDCC co-workers. By observing the latter in the daily contacts that they have with them, the young people try to copy their behavior regarding it as a model to follow. As a result, they manage to transfer this model in their personal communication with one another, as well as with the people outside the Center. Training in these models of behavior is a continuous process and is conducted individually or in small groups. While trying to find jobs for the peers continues to be a priority in the 16+ YDCC.

Our team provided assistance to some young people who had inhibitions in the process of communication and taught them how to communicate unaided with their employers in case of urgent problems that prevent them from going to work. Coping with such difficulties, contributes to the self-esteem of the young people and improves their communication with people at higher positions in the organization which employs them.

During this period, we provided assistance to two married couples in their efforts to resolve the conflicts that had cropped up between them. Our team tried to improve their skills to cope up with the problems by speaking with each other, instead of helping them to drift apart - something that they usually tend to do.

During the same period, the young people continued to help one another when somebody had to go to a medical institution, to look for a job, or to do anything else outside the 16+ YDCC. This kind of mutual assistance tends to bring about faster results, especially when it comes to the older members helping the newcomers. In addition, a new tradition has been started in the 16+ DCYC in the cases where a couple of young people work for the same employer. Whenever they visit the Center, they share with the rest what they think about their job. Such conversations also reveal who has a responsible attitude towards their jobs and who is often absent from work. The difficulties are also discussed with the 16+ YDCC team and, as a result, a contact is established with the relevant employers.

We organized some group sessions with the young people from the "St. Sophia" Institution for Temporary Placement of Orphans which concentrated on topics that were selected by the participants. One of the objectives of this kind of work is to help the young people to internalize the models of behavior.

Jointly with the "Red House" Cultural Center, we implemented a project entitled "Transient Space" and the total number of participants was 14 boys and 6 girls.

Activity 9 - Group for supporting young mothers and pregnant women. Total number of visits - 92 (including 12 girls and 4 boys)

We provide support to the young mothers and cultivate in them parental skills. They either gather together once a week or are offered individual support and advice by a psychologist and a social worker who provide them with the opportunity to share their problems and discuss ways of resolving these problems.

The main objective of the program is to prevent the neglect of children which have to be raised afterwards by specialized institutions, and to bring down to a minimum any violation in the contacts with such children by:

• encouraging the emotional links between the parents and their children;
• acquiring practical skills of how to take care of one's children;
• making sense of the parental responsibilities and of the motivation to bring up children;
• creating a group context for the provision of support, recommendations, advice and active participation in the learning process (also from the experience of the others);
• raising the initiative and the social competences in the area of group and family activities planning.

As a result of these activities, the parents started taking better care of their children and provided them with a quieter and healthier environment for their development. In addition, they also became more confident of themselves and gained more experience.

The mothers came to the Center on their own or brought their children along. Most of them, who had been more active during the previous period under review, were much busier now raising their children and had a lot of difficulties to overcome. They did not have enough free time to visit the 16+ YDCC. All the mothers seemed to need individual contacts, meetings and consultations with the specialists. Some of them would arrive on the day scheduled for such meetings, while others would just call to inform us about the actual situation in their families or to look for support. Sometimes, they simply phoned us to ask questions or share some information.

One mother took an active part in the discussion that followed the "Photodrama" exhibition in the town of Pernik which was partly organized by young people from the 16+ YDCC. Her contribution stirred up genuine interest and provoked a number of questions. The young woman answered all the questions quite openly, emotionally, and as an expert.

Another mother asked the instructor that conducted the group sessions to mediate between her and the social service, as she was afraid that she could lose her parental rights over one of her children.

Some of the young parents received individual consultations on social and legal issues, such as maternity benefits and conditions for depriving someone of his/her parental rights.

As not all of the young parents or mothers could visit the 16+ YDCC, especially during the winter season, they received individual consultations and support mostly on the phone.

The summer camp that was organized for the young mothers and their children in the village of Debeli Rut in the summer of 2007, turned out to be of particular value to them, as they had the opportunity to take part for a few days in group and individual sessions in psychodrama and photodrama. There was an additional benefit for the small children who gained there in health, which could not have happened in the unfavorable environment in which they live.


Activity 10 - Clubs for developing skills: Group Activity "Career Guidance"

Total number of visits - 202 (55 boys and 29 girls)

Some group work was done with the young people trying to make them more active in the process of finding a job or enrollment in training courses. They were also taught how to assume responsibility when assigned a task or a job.

We regularly followed the vacancies announcements and visited some of the companies that were offering jobs. As a result, some young people concluded employment contracts and began work in places that they had chosen themselves because of the pay, the labor conditions and the location of the organization. They were assisted in purchasing working clothes and in obtaining the documents they needed for the job.

The topics that were most frequently discussed boiled down to labor motivation, the employers' requirements and the young peoples' preparedness to satisfy these requirements, the acquisition of professional skills, the wages, and the adequate self-assessment.

In 2007, the Alliance for Children and Youth organized for the first time professional training courses on the basis of adapted certification programs for the acquisition of an occupation or part of an occupation.

• 19 young boys joined a construction course and 4 of them successfully completed the course;
• 10 young girls completed successfully a dressmaking course;
• 6 young girls attended a hairdressers' course and 4 of them successfully completed the course.

The Computer Club and Education

Total number of participants - 81
The computer literacy courses continued in 2007, too. In addition to the training classes, some additional work was done to make literate some of the young people who, due to negligence on the part of their parents when they were still young, had remained illiterate.

The Juridical School

Total number of events - 54 with the participation of 131 young people

During the period under review, a total of 48 instructive discussions and talks were organized for the young people in the 16+ YDCC, and another 6 instructive talks for the "St. Sophia" Institution for Temporary Placement of Orphans in the "Zakharna Fabrika" quarter. The idea was to clarify some issues that the young people said were important to them in the area of civil, administrative and criminal law and proceedings. The topics were selected on the basis of the interests of the relevant groups. The young people were active and expressed their desire to participate in this kind of training, as they wished to share their own experience in the clash with the government and municipal institutions and to talk about the haughty and arrogant attitude of the civil servants towards them. They also told stories of how they had managed to find a job, how they were discriminated against by the employers, how their remuneration was extremely low, and how they often are refused to be paid. The young girls and boys also said that they do not get the support they need from Social support system and Child Protection Departments. They demonstrated keen interest in the area of criminal law and criminal proceedings and wanted to know how they could stand up for their rights when they are detained or beaten up in the police stations; how to certify bodily injuries, what types of crimes are there and how are these crimes punished. They were familiarized with the work of the investigating officers, the public prosecutors, the police officers and the judges. Special attention was paid to the ex officio defense rights of the young people and the collection of evidence during the pre-trial and the court phase of the legal proceedings.

Activity 11 - Social-rehabilitation program - classes in music; arts; sports; computer skills, going to the movies, theater, museums, sport competitions. Through this program street youths are developed psychically and physically, they raise their self- appreciation and change their views about the future with the purpose - integration in society.
- involving music, art and sports classes, going to the cinema and the theater, and visiting museums and sports events. In general terms, this program helps the young people who live on the street to develop physically and mentally, to improve their self-esteem, and to change their attitude towards their own future in order to be able to get integrated more easily into society.

In 2007, a mountain camp was organized for the young mothers and their children. Two volunteer girls who had finished some of the professional courses organized at the beginning of the year participated in the work of the camp together with an external expert in photodrama and psychodrama, who organized some sessions for the participants. The camp helped the children to gain in health and the mothers to improve their psyche as they have a difficult life in the families in which they live.

We organized a visit to an exhibition at the "Shmirgela" gallery where exhibits of handicapped children from the day-care centers were staged.

We took the young people from the "St. Sophia" Institution for Temporary Placement of Orphans on a trip to town Plovdiv where they visited the old town and the Museum of Natural History.

All official Bulgarian holidays were marked in a special manner by organizing discussions on the topics related to the specific holidays.

A Christmas party was organized in December for the 16+ YDCC members which was visited by some young people from the "St. Sophia" Institution for Temporary Placementof Orphans. Everybody had the chance to participate in the decoration of the building and the Christmas tree. The treat was followed by presentation of gifts and by some dances.

The Music Club

Total number of participants - 148 (28 boys and 17 girls/

During the period, the music workshop concentrated on the preparation of songs for youths who had to take part in a concert in Pernik at a festival dedicated to the culture of the Romas; also in the "Zdrave" TV, at a festival in Hungary, together with the "Shukarie" dancing group, and in a concert at the Central Military Club. One young man started to learn how to play the tarambouka, and another one started playing the piano and learning solfeggio. The young people learned a lot of Bulgarian and Roma folk songs.

The youngsters learned how to sing primarily Gipsy songs, and the Bulgarian folk songs came second in their repertoire. Discussions were held on the different styles of music and the individual singers, as well as on a number of other topics.

Before Christmas, the young people concentrated on Bulgarian folk songs, Gipsy songs, as well as on Christmas songs and Christmas carols. The youngsters sang their favorite songs and listened to various styles of music.


The Sports Club

Total number of participants - 473 (97 boys and 17 girls)

The young people have the need and the habit to use the gym which was specially built for the purpose. They request that the gym should be open at a particular hour and spend there 1 hour every day. The fitness hall is also used by the young people who visit the 16+ YDCC and have the intention to become its members.

Activity 12 - Activities focused on enhancing the capacity of the 16+ YDCC team - team supervisions; self-training of the 16+ Center team - once a month the team organizes workshops, where articles and papers are discussed.

Total number - 743.

Our team has taken part in different forms of training courses, such as:
• A seminar on human rights in Hissar, organized by the European Integration and Human Rights Association
• The training modules of a joint project between the Children and Space Association and the psychoanalysts and psychologists from the Doctors without Borders Association, Bordeaux. The project was implemented in the course of the year with the help of the French Cultural Institute in Sofia.
• A seminar on people trafficking which was held in July by the Italian NET-ink Association and the Children and Space Association. Two training seminars were held in September last year in Varna which concentrated on the design of institutional projects and on working with minorities. We familiarized the participants with the way in which we work at the 16+ YDCC with the young people of Roma origin and showed them some video materials.
• The supervision of the most serious cases where all the resources of the team have to be used turned out to be of great value.
• An autumn University on Drug Addictions was organized by the Institute of Behavioral Strategies. The knowledge acquired there was later shared with the rest of the social workers.
• Our team representative took part in a national meeting on the problem of people trafficking.
• A course in managing projects connected with the European Structural Funds.
• A workshop on Preventive Work with Children and Adolescents was organized by the Tulip Foundation in September, 2007.
• Participation in a seminar in Bucharest on the services provided to neglected children in Bulgaria and Rumania.
• In the "Zvanche" day-care center for handicapped young people in the town of Smolyan a 16+ YDCC team representative took part in a team discussion in the role of a supporting institution.
• A workshop with the professionals from Sofia working with children and young people at risk.
• Participation in a study visit to Italy, the Aemilia Romana region, where our representative observed the work performed by the social units of the municipal administrations in three major cities of the region (Rimini, Bologna and Ravena); she also observed the work performed by an NGO by joining a mobile team which was working in the streets of Bologna. The invitation was from partner organizations from Italy, Bulgaria and Rumania.

Work aimed at attracting more public attention and receiving better understanding

During the year, our team took part in different media programs following invitations received from the individual media: BBT, the "Iskreno & Lichno" program of BTV, the "Zala 3" program of the BNT, the 7 Dni TV, the "Krakra" TV in Pernik, the "Zdrave" TV, the military channel, etc.

On May 10, 2007, a photo exhibition was staged at the United Children's Complex in the town of Pernik and a discussion was organized on the topic "Transient Space - a Door Open to the Children and Young People at Risk". This was a joint initiative of the 16+ YDCC, the "Red House" Cultural Center in Sofia, and the Youth "Obektiv" Association from the town of Pernik. 60 pictures of young people from the 16+ Center were exhibited in one of the complex halls. The pictures had been taken at a photo training course held in the village of Roudartsi, at a mountain camp at Malyovitsa, and during the visit to a Mentally and Physically Handicapped Children's Home in the village of Vidrare in 2006. This visit opened the door for the imagination of these children and for new challenges. The pictures show the internal condition of the young people. The exhibition was highly praised by a wide range of citizens, by MPs and representatives of different institutions.

A trip was made to Hungary on June 7-10, 2007, for participation in a Roma festival. The "Shukarie" dancing group and representatives from the 16+ YDCC took part in the festival. The adolescents visited Budapest and the whole trip was recorded.

In June, 2007, Nayden Yankov took part in a charity concert which was held at the Sofia Military Club in support of the Social Care Institution in the town of Veliko Tirnovo.

The 16+ YDCC team took part in a number of TV and radio broadcasts, such as the "Horizont" program and the "Zdrave" TV. Some journalists from the "Capital" newspaper and the "Kangaroo" magazine wrote extensive and rather analytical materials about the life of the homeless children and adolescents and the activities of the Center.

The Alliance for Children and Youth has opened a hot line for citizens' signals. The web site of the Alliance offers detailed information about the programs and projects it implements. The web site is regularly updated and publishes the latest news and information.

Statistical data:
 1 press conference
 8 publications in the press
 3 participations in radio broadcasts
 over 9 participations in TV broadcasts (including Channel 1 of BNT and BTV)
 1 presentation in a foreign media
 The special film about the 16+ YDCC was screened before the general public at the Cinema Home in Sofia; it was shown twice on the national television and once on the "Bulgaria" satellite channel.
 Training with governmental organizations and NGOs in EU countries.

Joint work with NGO partners, and with other institutions and organizations

• The Regional Probation Service, Sofia - implementation of a program entitled "Public Impact on the Persons Serving Probation Sentences";
• The Sofia Police Directorate and the regional police directorates;
• The Government Agency for Child Protection and the Social Assistance Agency;
• Working with students from: the Pedagogical Faculty and the Primary School and Pre-School Pedagogical Department of Sofia University (SU); the "Filaretova" Medical College and the New Bulgarian University (NBU). SU and NBU provided long-term training (15-30-days) to 17 students. The short-term training was provided in the form of practical courses, including examination of services and the so called "hospitizing". 95 students received such training at the 16+ YDCC.
• The "Koupate" Roma organization - the 16+ YDCC hosted a meetings of trainees in professional cooking and confectionary courses organized by "Koupate". This cooperation is extended to cover the enrollment of 16+ Center members in literacy courses.
• The "Aver" Roma organization in the context of organizing professional courses for the young people.
• The Roma School in the "Obelya" neighborhood.
• The "Red House" Cultural Center.
• A contact was established with the "Kontra" German organization for the protection of women who have experienced violence in connection with a possible testifying in a law-suit in Germany involving a 16+ DCYC member.
• We maintain constant contacts with the Social Assistance Directorates and the Child Protection Departments within the territory of Sofia and in the country.
• Meetings with the local mayor of Slatina Municipality in relation to a request to enroll the child of a young mother, a 16+ DCYC member, in a kindergarten.
• Contacts with the regional police directorates, contacts with the one institution in town Lik, contacts with the another institution in town Gorna Oriahovitsa, and with the regional police directorates in Gorna Oriahovitsa and Tirnovo.
• The Health without Borders Foundation for the purpose of examining and treating HIV/AIDS, as well as sexually transmitted infections
• The Health and Social Development Foundation for the purpose of testing the young people for hepatitis B and C
• The City Dispensary of Tuberculosis for examinations and treatment of tuberculosis free of charge
• The Association Animus Foundation
• The "Ekip" Foundation and the Center for Social Support to Children and Families, Sofia
• Joint work with the institutions for temporary accommodation in Sofia
• Joint work with the social service in the town of Dryanovo.


There are still problems related to: the low level of literacy and education of the young people; many undeveloped social and communication skills; the pessimism and lack of confidence; missing of support from the family and the relatives.

Being out of the Medical insurance system it is still difficult for homeless and unemployed young people to access medical and stomatological help. Not counting emergency cases.

It is impossible such people to be accommodate in municipal houses.

The problems of the young homeless people suffering of psychological and chronicle diseases are very hard.

The deinstitutionalization in Bulgaria is a very difficult and painful process both for the children and youngsters and for the people who care them.

We look for new partnerships especially the community and the business representative and other organizations.


31 May 2008

Mariana Pisarska

Executive Director
Alliance for Cildren and Youth

think global, act local
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