The Network of Early Childhood Development in the Roma Community in Bulgaria (the Network) aims to support professionals working with minority children in increasing the scope and quality of the services provided, and seeks to unite the advocacy efforts of its members in this direction. The network also supports the development of role models from the Roma community itself.
The main objectives of the Network are:
To develop the expert capacity among specialists and support staff who work with Roma communities in the field of early childhood development;
To help increase the number of professionals from the Roma community working to provide early childhood services;
Advocate for more equitable and quality services to help create more inclusive systems;
To provide additional internship opportunities in nurseries and kindergartens for students of Roma origin.
HISTORY, FUNDING AND STRUCTURE
The network was established in January 2018 and is coordinated by the “Early Learning and Care” program of the Foundation “Trust for a Social Achievement” (TSA). The network has its own coordinator and leader, and its activities are supported by the program team and TSA as a whole. The Network also has an Advisory Board made up of members of the Network.
The network is a member of an international network of 12 similar networks from across Europe called REYN – Romani Early Years Network. REYN was established and receives funding from the Early Childhood Development Program of the Open Society Foundations. The activity of the Network in Bulgaria is co-financed by TSA.
Members of the Network are kindergartens and schools, professionals and non-governmental organizations working with young children from the Roma community. The network accepts both institutional and individual members. Institutional membership brings additional opportunities to participate in the activities of the Network.
Membership is free (for now) and is achieved by completing the following form here.
Eugenia Volen is the head of the Network and of the “Learning and Care at an Early Age” program. She is responsible for managing a team that sets goals that meet meaningful needs; seeks innovative solutions to these problems; designs and implements program activities; monitors and evaluates the effect of continuous design improvement activities. Eugenia also leads the program’s advocacy efforts, frequently being invited as an external speaker at events on inclusive early education, evidence-based advocacy, and other topics.
Before TSA, Eugenia developed her career at Ernst & Young, working for 12 years in 4 offices in 3 countries, including Bulgaria. In New York, she led the audit of major financial companies and investment funds just before the height of the global financial crisis in 2007. Eugenia successfully developed her own consulting business during the period 2008 – 2013. She holds a Master’s degree in “Public Administration” from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a bachelor’s degree in “Finance and Accounting” from New Bulgarian University. Eugenia is a member of the International Association of Certified Accountants and a certified trainer under the Embracing Diversity program.
Gabriela Tosunova is a program assistant in the team of the “Early Childhood Learning and Care” program. She has completed her secondary education with a certificate of III-degree professional qualification, specialty “Economist” and her Bachelor’s degree with specialty “Public Administration” at the South-West University “Neofit Rilski” in Blagoevgrad, with full honors, having been awarded with the prize of excellent graduate at the Faculty of Law and History, Department of National Security and Public Administration.
Gabriella is a professional children’s entertainer, has a career in fine arts with a personal micro business and is a role model in her community where she and her family lead and organize children, youth, families and adults in charitable events, services and activities at their local church.
You can read about the TSA team here
Silvia graduated in Elementary and Preschool Pedagogy at Shumen University “Ep. K. Preslavski”, master’s degree in “Civic and intercultural education”. She is currently the regional educational coordinator at the Amalipe Center. Silvia is also a certified trainer under the “Together in a Colorful World” Program of the “Trust for a Social Alternative” Foundation.
Spaska has extensive management experience, participated in the implementation of a number of projects aimed at families, children and young people, some of them in marginalized communities. It also works directly with various communities, actively supporting and advocating for the implementation of effective early childhood education and care policies.
Stefan graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of Thrace University. Chairman of the Association “Thirst for Life.” Expert in public health with a focus on maternal and child health in the Roma community. Stefan has more than 15 years of experience in managing, monitoring and implementing projects in the field of prevention of socially significant diseases and youth activities.
Svetlana has a master’s degree in Preschool Pedagogy and has over thirty-two years of experience working with children and parents from vulnerable communities. From 2014 to the present, she is the director of DG “Prolet”, city of Yambol.
Desislava graduated from Saint Cyril and Methodius VTU
with specialty: Preschool and elementary school pedagogy. Since 2007, she has been working as the director of a kindergarten, and is currently the director of the “Elena Grancharova” Elementary School, Gorna Oryahovitsa. Desislava has over eighteen years of experience working with children and parents from vulnerable communities.
Anahit graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Preschool Pedagogy and for a long time worked as a children’s teacher in the village of Rumyantsevo, Lukovit municipality. Also, Anahit has experience as a children’s teacher in a Home for girls and boys with physical disabilities, located on the territory of the city of Lukovit. In 2005, she was the secretary of the Municipality of Lukovit, while at the same time she continued her education in the field of Public Administration at the “St. St. Cyril and Methodius” VTU – town Veliko Tarnovo. Since 2014 until now she is the director of “Slantse” Kindergarten – town of Lukovit.
Irena graduated in Medicine at VMI-c. Pleven, and she also managed to acquire a Hygiene specialty at the child-adolescent age. She currently holds the position of deputy director of RZI-Vratsa. Irena has enviable experience in organizing and conducting health and educational campaigns for disease prevention and health promotion.