The organisations involved in the Steps project are ADO Icarus (Belgium), Association Friends of the Home for Children (Bulgaria), Academy of Management (Poland), Inima de Copil Foundation (Romania), Independent Living Institute (Sweden). The project is supported by the Leonardo da Vinci Lifelong Learning Programme and runs from June 2009 until August 2011.
Providers of social services in all EU member states are confronted with the process of de-institutionalisation and the establishment of social entrepreneurship. The project
- organises working visits in three Western European member states aiming at an exchange of expertise and experience between the partner organisations;
- runs training sessions for the management of social services in three countries from Eastern and Central Europe, aiming ad introducing or stimulating management skills and entrepreneurship strategies;
- drafts a manual of good practices in social entrepreneurship together with a set of recommendations to stimulate social entrepreneurship in social services providing organisations.
The Independent Living Institute took part in the training session in Galati, Romania with two presentations and discussions on de-institutionalisation by replacing these structures with Direct Payments and user involvement in the purchase of services with Direct Payments.
Other topics and activities in Galati were:
- Steps towards de-institutionalisation in Poland and Bulgaria;
- Project for cross-border cooperation in the lower Danube region;
- Lobby and advocacy in Belgium;
- Organisation and financing of small-scaled projects in Bulgaria;
- Management of a social enterprise in Belgium;
- Visits to group house, center for daily occupation and sports club for people with disabilities.
The providers of social services in Romania suffer considerable budget cuts which can jeopardise the complete integration process of service users in the community by replacing large scale institutions with individual Direct Payments. Currently, there is a net inflow of persons with disabilities into residential institutions.