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Bulgarian social services and social work education

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Abstract

Bulgarian social services and social work education This article describes the changes taking place in Bulgaria in social welfare, social services, and social work education as an example of the transformations in process in the current transition from Communism to democratic, market-economy societies in Central and Eastern Europe. The previous paternalistic, centralized, excessively politicized system and services are being re-evaluated and restructured to meet the new economic needs and social demands brought about by privatization and shrinking government budgets. The existence of poverty, which was denied during Communism, is now being acknowledged and tackled. Some previous services are being reduced or dropped; new ones are being created; some very small private volunteer agencies are being established; and a new curriculum for social work education in universities is being developed. However, the rigidities of thinking fostered by fifty years of Communism must be overcome in order that substantial changes can take place.

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... Previous research indicates that in some countries, social work qualifications are well established and embedded within the higher education system; while in others, social work is a relatively 'new' area. For example, social work as a profession was introduced in Bulgaria in the 1990s using the German system of 'social pedagogy' (Freed 1995); since then, social work education has expanded to a number of Bulgarian universities. In Romania, the legal recognition of social work as an independent profession and field of practice became effective in 2005, through the Social Work Law of that year. ...
... Previous research indicates that in some countries, social work qualifications are well established and embedded within the higher education system; while in others, social work is a relatively 'new' area. For example, social work as a profession was introduced in Bulgaria in the 1990s using the German system of 'social pedagogy' (Freed 1995); since then, social work education has expanded to a number of Bulgarian universities. In Romania, the legal recognition of social work as an independent profession and field of practice became effective in 2005, through the Social Work Law of that year. ...
Article
The article presents research on challenges and problems of social work profession and education in Bulgaria. The purpose is to establish the impact of policies and legislation on their current condition and the opportunities for changes and development. The methodology includes content analysis and online interview for the study of respondents’ opinion on reforms in social work profession and education. The results of the quantitative and qualitative analysis of content and empirical data confirm the accepted purpose. They reveal that the challenges and problems in the current situation are the result of deficits in legislation, policies, and practices in the management and provision of social services and neglect by the authorities of the need to introduce regulations and standards in the social work profession and social work education. This leads to the formation and dynamism of a tendency to blur the boundaries of social work and its gradual deprofessionalization. The analysis of results presents need for reforms in areas regulations of social work profession and education, quality of professional resources, comparability of social work qualification with European Union countries, and integration of neoliberal, market and humanistic concepts in social services.
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