Bulgarian-Swiss Program Gives 2500 Children a Chance to Go to Kindergarten
The implementation of the Health and Education for All program improved access to social, health and educational services for young Roma families and enabled 2500 children between 3 and 5 years of age to regularly attend kindergartens and preschool groups. This was said by Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Biser Petkov, during the closing conference on the program, which took place today in Sofia, the social ministry announced.
Another 2100 children have been returned to the classrooms and have received additional Bulgarian language lessons, which has increased their literacy and chances for a better and quality life, says Minister Petkov.
The experience from the implementation of the ZWU program shows that integrated health, education and social services deliver extremely good results when implemented effectively and precisely addressed to the specific needs of the population of a given municipality. Many of the project practices correspond directly to the objectives of the Law on Social Services developed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, whose main objectives are the introduction of integrated social services, the facilitation of access to them and the improvement of their quality, Petkov said in the message.
He pointed out that it is necessary to continue the coordinated consecutive efforts to provide comprehensive support to the target groups of the Roma communities, marginalized communities in different spheres: education, employment, health, improving living conditions, overcoming negative stereotypes. "This is the path to active social inclusion of the representatives of the vulnerable groups and the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy actively works in this direction," said Minister Petkov.
The program is implemented with the financial support of the Government of Switzerland in Plovdiv, Ruse, Burgas, Montana, Sliven and Shumen. From the Bulgarian side, the main project partner is the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, with ministries of health and education and science being also involved.
The event was also attended by Deputy Minister Zornitsa Rusinova. "The six pilot projects under the ZWU program complement the policy of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy on isolated social groups, and its implementation shows that when the central institutions and their regional structures join forces with the local authorities, NGOs and donors, This model enables children to go from a young age to a kindergarten, to have access to healthcare, "says Rusinova.
She added that there is a lot of work to be done to prepare the regulations on the Social Services Act. It is the first time to regulate the integrated provision of public services. Preparations for the next programming period are also forthcoming. "The way we can achieve real social inclusion is when we join efforts to build housing infrastructure with education, health, social and employment policies," said Deputy Minister Rusinova.
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