On June 5th, several members of IWC visited one of the charity projects – Karin Dom in Varna. “The Home of Karin” is a training and resource center for children with special needs (children with physical disabilities, mental and learning problems, sensory problems, autism, multiple disabilities, and learning difficulties.). The Center provides multidisciplinary assessment of each child, individual programs for therapy and teaching with participation of parents, integrated education, and training sessions for parents, professionals, volunteers and staff in institutions. It offers support to children aged 0 months to 18 years old and to their families. Karin Dom was established in 1994 by Mr. Ivan Stancioff, former Bulgarian Ambassador to the UK and to the Republic of Ireland and ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Stancioff family offered the family house (built in 1908, nationalized by the state in 1944 and returned to the family after the restitution of property in 1993) to the Foundation, named after Karin – a cousin of the Stancioffs who was born with cerebral palsy. The Children’s Centre was officially inaugurated by the President of Bulgaria in 1996.
At present 90 children per month benefit from the Day Center– some of the children come several times a week, others are visited by specialists at their home. The Center is family oriented and is focusing mainly on training parents how to take care of their children. In December 2010, Karin Dom began an Early Intervention Programme. It is targeted towards children, newborn to 4 years old, that have special needs, are at risk, or are falling behind in their developmental areas – physical, cognitive, social, emotional or speech. The Early Intervention programme offers a great opportunity for a problem-solving process that involves the parents. It is carried out in a home environment, a comfort zone for the family and place where the Early Intervention team can see the child in their natural environment. Home visits are carried out by a team of specially trained consultants from Karin Dom. This mobile team of specialists includes social workers, physiotherapists, special pedagogues, and speech therapists. A Parental Support Network is also part of the Early Intervention programme. The purpose of parent meetings is to provide connections between the parents, so that they can learn from each other and support one another. IWC have been supporting Karin Dom for several years. This year we are financing two of the physiotherapists.