2016 was a very special year for the National Network for Children. In 2016 we turned 10 years and celebrated the establishment of this unique for Bulgaria association, which brings together like-minded people and organisations, safeguarding the rights of the children. Ten years ago, led by the principles embedded in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 12 organisations got together and set up the National Network for Children as an organisation for public benefit. Now, a decade later, the Network unites more than 130 organisations, standing by the same principles, vision and values.
Our birthday is both a reason to feel proud and to look back and make an evaluation. We have achieved a lot. The annual report provide an account of only part of our most significant achievements and results of our work. Over the years we managed to make some major breakthroughs, we initiated and took part in several major reforms, affecting the children of Bulgaria: ranging from closing down of the big child institutions and moving the children out, the development of foster care, of services in support of families, through to the new legislation in the field of education and the fi rst steps in reforming child justice.
The progress made in each of these fields is huge and inevitable, however the work that remains to be done is even more since no reform, process or policy is fi nalised with the adoption of a new law, road map or strategy. What makes reforms a reality and what improves people’s lives is the hard day-to-day work.
This is exactly what we, the 140 and more organisations, do: everyday efforts, which sometimes go unnoticed, to return a child to their family, to make the school a more friendly place for both children and those who teach them, to ensure access of an expectant mother to free consultation and finally to see one more smile on a child’s face.
Thanks to our joint advocacy efforts, as a Network we can proudly state that last year alone, the dozens of positions and opinions sent by us to the various state institutions, resulted in more than 35 specific amendments in various strategies, plans and legal documents. Despite the fact that the really hard work of all Network member organisations may be unnoticed and obscure for many people, it has a real impact on the lives of the children and their families and moves our society forward in the name of those we work for: the children.
However, the biggest and hardest challenge remains changing our attitudes and treating the child as an equal member of society, bearer of rights, having his or her opinion, and as a unique individual, entitled to special protection and support, regardless of his or her origin, social status, gender and age. Even though progress is slow, we work to achieve zero tolerance to violence against children – both within the family (65 % of the registered cases) and at school and in the street; equal treatment and special support during judicial proceedings; ethical approach to the coverage of children in the media.
In 2016 alone, we reached more than 1 million Bulgarian people in the social media in order to build together positive parenting models, friendly environment in the kindergartens and schools, in the courtrooms and in the medical establishments.
At the National Network for Children we believe that if every day we make small changes for the child so that he or she would become a more independent and successful adult, then we change Bulgaria!
Annual Report (PDF, 3 MB)