The period from pregnancy to age 3 is the most critical, when the brain grows faster than at any other time – 80% of a baby’s brain is formed by this age. For healthy brain development in these years, children need a safe, secure, and loving environment, with the right nutrition and stimulation from their parents and caregivers1. The socio-economic vulnerability of most Roma families in Bulgaria a barrier that is often difficult to overcome for parents who are trying to ensure quality care for their young child. In addition, existing targeted services in support of vulnerable families are insufficient to meet the needs of families searching for support.
The “We Care” project led by the Trust for Social Achievement aims to improve access by infants and mothers from Roma communities to services that support early childhood development. To achieve this, the project brings together the efforts of 18 civil society organizations to advocate, vis-à-vis governmental institutions, for more accessible services in support of vulnerable families with children aged 0-3.
- Trainings. For one year, the organizations will attend trainings in the field of advocacy, early childhood development, and tools for working with vulnerable communities. The opportunity to attend to the training is offered to health professionals working in the field of infant and maternal health in local institutions. Our aim is to improve the expertise of both groups and to create a platform for better planning and implementation of public policies towards children and mothers from the Roma community;
- Funding opportunities for the implementation of local advocacy initiatives – up to BGN 6 500. Each organization will have the opportunity to develop and implement an advocacy initiative based on the needs of the target group in their localities. These initiatives are real opportunities to expand the reach of existing mechanisms as well as to advocate for their improvement;
- Conduct research and analyses of the effectiveness of services and their degree of accessibility to vulnerable Roma families – the data will serve as groundwork for advocacy at the national level;
- Establishment of a National Advisory Council with involvement of all stakeholders;
- Development of a National Advocacy Strategy by the end of the training program. Based on the experience gained through the local advocacy initiatives and the data collected from research, the organizations will define priority goals for advocacy at the national level;
During the second year, the project will provide funding for up to 4 advocacy projects to seek changes in policies and programs at the national level.