Association “Child and Space”, the National Network for Children and The Research Institute for the Population and the Human (RIPH) as part of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) presented a project, which aims to stimulate the development and adoption of state policy directed at parents and families, which is to foresee clear objectives, measures and actions in all areas affecting children’s well-being.
According to the project partners, the state has no clear vision of how to support parents and families as they often are mentioned only in a formal way in official strategic documents targeted at improving the lives of children in Bulgaria. A good example of this is the fact that the number of “children raised by the state” is not decreasing, even though there is a deinstitutionalisation process going on, which is expensive and takes years. In this regard, if families at risk receive adequate support in time, many children would not be separated from them. Instead, the current situation is that sanctions and penalties to parents are the most used tools of the state when working with them.
It is a fact that most of the existing policies affect families, but without being tied into a system of targeted actions support. Some of the key areas in this context are education, health, housing, energy, socio-economic and regional policies and others. Often, measure taken in these areas are “piecemeal” i.e. bring some minor changes without a having vision of the type of support which the state offers to the family as well as having no medium and long term objectives.
Association “Child and Space” presented an analysis of the family policies applied in four European countries – France, Great Britain, Norway and Germany – which examines the three main models of welfare states. The expectation is that in-depth study of the different approaches of support from the state will contribute to the formulation of recommendations and best practices to be used in developing a unified philosophy and policy to support parents and families in Bulgaria.
At the same time, a study of the attitudes and expectations about the current system for family support in the country shows that Bulgarian parents and families believe that the state is in debt to ensure a better quality of life for families with children and are waiting for greater consistency and universality.
Experts from The Research Institute for the Population and the Human (RIPH) – BAS, who conducted focus groups with parents with 1-2 children, parents with many children, parents of children with disabilities, single parents, and parents from Roma origin, presented findings that 91% of respondents believe that policies for supporting families in Bulgaria are ineffective. Essential part of their criticism concerns the lack of quality services for children and the insufficient resources allocated by the State to support families.
“The elaboration of an integral family policy, leading to the development and application of family-oriented approach in practice is absolutely necessary,” said Georgi Bogdanov from the National Network for Children. “For this purpose we plan to initiate a consultative process to prepare a Vision for family policy in Bulgaria with the participation of all stakeholders in the process – parents, families, NGOs, as well as experts and representatives of the state institutions. We believe that parents and civil society organizations, NGOs and the academic community have the capacity to contribute to the formulation of a comprehensive family policy as well as to the processes of decision-making at local, regional and national level,” said Georgi Bogdanov.
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