Childcare in Bulgaria
Policies and Approaches since 2007
On 13 September 2007 a filmed report Bulgaria's Abandoned Children shown on BBC4 drew public attention to the conditions of institutional childcare in Bulgaria, by illustrating the home for physically and mentally handicapped parentless children in the remote village of Mogilino
The film highlighted the neglected aspects of care provision, in the lack of:
- humanitarian care: shift-work care impeding childrens’ social skills and emotional fulfilment
- remedial mental and physical therapy
- individual development: education and recreation
The controversial response to the film marks a turning point in attitudes to childcare in Bulgaria, demonstrated since in government reforms characterising the process of de-institutionalisation which adopt systems favouring community-based care services and centres.
Recent policies of the Bulgarian Government in the current transition period formulated in the National Strategy for the Child 2008-2018 have initiated major reforms in the children protection system generally.
The strategy aims to decrease the number of institutions in the short terms and close all institutions by 2025.
At the end of December 2014, the number of children living in institutions decreased from 6226 in 2011 to 2721 (Opening Doors, 2016 http://www.openingdoors.eu)
Disruptive experiences for re-located children, at risk of breaking up blood relative
Lack of staff to meet increased staffing requirements of a larger number of smaller care units.
Lack of adequate funding: salaries of professional care workers
Underdeveloped professional and specialist training
Increased demand: overall the number of children living in formal care has remained the same, despite dissolution of a number of larger homes (Opening Doors, 2016).
Child Poverty: 51% of child population = exposure to risk and social exclusion
Family poverty compels parents to place children in care
Underdeveloped provision for fostering and adoption
Budgets and Funding shortfall: t ypically, EU funding provision for building smaller homes does not extend to maintenance costs nor the provision of specialist care.
Lack of stability, continuity and handover in process of transition
Sources and Reference
Friends of Bulgaria: Role in Context
Friends of Bulgaria’s collaboration with Partner Project providers distributes services of care for children’s welfare and quality of life throughout the country in projects such as the Childrens’ Clubs delivering activities designed to develop:
individual self confidence and expression through music and dance
social skills in collaborative activities and games
personal relationships and emotional security in mentoring schemes
expression in creative arts
life skills eg cooking, sewing
personal initiative in outward-bound activities – summer camps
Case Studies of the de-institutionalisation process:
Troyan, Dalbok Dol Centre for Social Rehabilitation and Integration 2005-2013
Lovec, Paraskeva Neikova Dom
Friends of Bulgaria’s close partnership with ZOV projects based in Veliko Turnovo region benefits from advantageous resources locally:
Friends of Bulgaria closely monitors Project delivery and outcomes: