ChildHub offers its members and visitors more than 30.000 resources on different thematic areas of child protection. On our platform, you can access news, research reports and policy papers, guidelines and toolkits, webinars and online courses in ten languages – English, French, Albanian, Bulgarian, Greek, Hungarian, Romanian, Serbo-Croat-Bosnian, Ukrainian and Russian. 

This would have not been possible without the hard work and dedication of the ChildHub translators, content writers and managers such as Zhivko Stankov in Bulgaria. Read an interview with Zhivko to discover what he learned in his role and how ChildHub supports child professionals in Bulgaria.  

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role as a ChildHub associate.  

I am an International Relations-Sociology graduate from the University of Aberdeen, UK, who has been translating and writing materials on ChildHub on behalf of the Know-How Centre for Alternative Care for Children, New Bulgarian University. 

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your role?  

I get to learn more about the status of child protection in Bulgaria and I also have the opportunity to learn more about psychological approaches that benefit child development. I believe this is also complementing my sociological curiosity, providing me with insights related to relevant macro- and microsociological aspects. For example, I have been given deeper understanding of the deinstitutionalisation process in the country – its importance to the creation of a safer environment for children without parents or children from marginalised communities.  

Children, regardless of their background, are the foundation of a nation's future which means that understanding how to protect them effectively and how to provide them with a stable environment to grow is crucial for tackling contemporary and future issues at a structural level in the country.  

My role has also given me the opportunity to go beyond as an interpreter for the Bulgarian delegation during the Conference on Quality Mechanisms in Child Protection in 2017 in Tirana, Albania. 

How is ChildHub addressing the gaps in the child protection system of Bulgaria?  

ChildHub is a valuable source for news and educational materials strictly related to child protection. It is also an environment where child protection professionals from all countries involved can share experience and work together on finding solutions. Therefore, ChildHub is efficient not only for spreading information but also for educating. 

Bulgaria, as an effect of its socialist past, has had a long history of institutional care for children without parents. This type of care is characterised by a mechanical and bureaucratic approach which, if anything, only worsens the situation for the affected children once they grow up and leave the institution. Currently, a process of deinstitutionalisation is almost at a finish in the country which has improved social care by introducing family-type centres with professionals who nurture the children’s development. ChildHub has been an excellent platform for news regarding this process in Bulgaria during the last 6-7 years. The website has also been incredibly helpful for the education of young and even experienced child protection professionals in methods which are the most beneficial for children in need. 

What is needed to improve the system?  

It is quite a complicated answer to put in a few words. In my opinion, this can happen once the general population understands how important children of any background are for the future of a country. Of course, this seems obvious at first but the unpleasant truth is that people generally close their eyes when it comes to the suffering of children from marginalised communities. Some simply do not care as they are far detached from this reality and tend to avoid it as much as possible. This is a huge problem as the demographic crisis and growing inequality are a ticking time bomb in the country. Bulgaria needs skilled social workers who can be instrumental in the creation of a brighter future for marginalised children for the sake of a more effective Roma integration. 

What are the challenges that child protection professionals encounter during the pandemic?  

The pandemic was unexpected for everyone on a global level. Child protection professionals specifically were suddenly faced with a burden of extra care for both the children and their own respective families. This definitely had a negative psychological effect and accelerated burn out. Furthermore, approaches which included close human interaction that the professionals had gotten used to had suddenly become obsolete as social distancing, masks and video calls came into play.  

How is ChildHub supporting them?  

ChildHub has been effective in contributing with motivational and informative materials and consultations which helped and are still helping professionals adapt to the new reality at least until this challenge passes. The on-line actions for supporting the relationships among professional communities gave a sense of care and that you are not alone in this serious situation of social distancing and uncertainty.  

ChildHub has launched its new platform at the beginning of the year. What do you appreciate most about it?  

I love the new look of the website. Its smoother and easier on the eye. This is definitely a big plus as it will most likely attract more users and will increase participation. 

*** 

Get acquainted with other ChildHub coordinators and resource persons in this series of interviews:  

  • Judit Nemeth-Almasi, Deputy Head of Terre des hommes Regional Office in Budapest, who has been leading ChildHub since its very beginning in 2005 
  • Valbona Carcani-Mane, ChildHub Coordinator in Albania, Terre des hommes Albania 
  • Dragana Vuckovic, ChildHub Coordinator in Serbia, Center for Youth Integration   
  • Saša Stefanović, Director of the Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia MODS & ChildHub resource person 

***

The Child Protection Hub is led by Terre des hommes (Regional Office in Hungary in collaboration with country offices in Albania, Kosovo, Moldova, Romania and Greece), in partnership with Save the Children North West Balkans, Know-how Centre for Alternative Care for children in Bulgaria, Brave Phone in Croatia, and Centre for Youth Integration in Serbia.

ChildHub is funded by the Austrian Development Agency, Oak Foundation, and Terre des hommes Foundation.

Childhub

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