For the fifth consecutive year, the National Network for Children presented its annual monitoring document “Report Card 2016: What is the average government score in childcare?” For first time the public and media presentation took place simultaneously in 8 regions in the country.
The purpose of this report is to review the progress of implementation of over 20 commitments that the state authorities has undertaken to children in the country. Areas that the ‘Report Card’ assess are five: 1) General principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; 2) Family environment and alternative care; 3) Health care; 4) Education and 5) Justice. This year the “Report Card” is issued in two versions: a popular one for the general public and an expert one – aimed at professionals and institutions.
This year there is little progress in government policies for children and the average annual success is assessed 3.28 out of 6.00. The assessment scale is the same as the one used in Bulgarian schools where 2.00 is ‘poor’, 3.00 is ‘average’, 4.00 is ‘good’, 5.00 is ‘very good’ and 6.00 is ‘excellent’. It must be recognized that even the total grade is quite low – average 3.28, this is the highest annual assessment of the “Report Card” in the years to date. For comparison, last year the success of the state institutions in childcare was 3.20.
The highest score is in the area “Health” – good 3.58, and the highest estimated subarea is “In-patient and out-patient care” with ‘good’ 4.04. A positive change is the introduction of additional tests for newborn babies and children in preschool and school age. There are Health and counseling centers for maternal and child health at District General Hospitals to provide comprehensive services to pregnant women and children.
Lowest score in “Report Card 2016” is in the area of “General principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child” – ‘average’ 2.91, and the lowest evaluated subarea is “Discrimination” with a mark ‘poor’ 2.00. For the fifth consecutive year there is not reported progress on this commitment especially in creation of a special unit to examine cases of discrimination against children. Bulgaria continues to be one of the three EU countries that have no specialized Ombudsman for children’s rights; continues to have a practice of discrimination and unequal treatment of refugee children, children with disabilities and Roma children in terms of their access to quality education, health and adequate housing and social environment.
The area “Family and alternative care” is evaluated ‘average’ 3.00 due to the lack of comprehensive approach to support the child and family despite the declared commitment by the state in this field.
“Education” and “Justice” received identical grades – ‘good’ 3.54. As success in the area of “Education” is noted the adoption of the new “Law for the pre-school and school education”, but the early school dropping remains extremely alarming. In the area of “Justice” is noted clear demand and efforts for reforms in the system of juvenile justice, but at the same time has no real change and there is a lack of coordination between the actions of the various institutions on the topic.
In 2016 the preparation of “Report Card” was consulted with children and young people who took part in nine focus groups and in an online survey. 120 children aged 12 to 18 from across the country participated in consultation of the assessment process. Children set the highest score in the area of “Justice” and in particular the commitment of the state to make the child safety on the Internet. The assessment of children in this area is ‘good’ 3.88. Children write weakest assessment in the area “General principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child” and the subarea ‘Child poverty’ which gets an ‘average’ assessment 2.61.
In addition to critics to the responsible institutions “Report Card 2016” provides recommendations to improve the situation. It offers 10 possible solutions to the 10 outstanding tasks.
In the popular version of the report are offered “Small steps to the big change” – tips on how everyone can help to improve the welfare of the children in Bulgaria in their daily lives.
You can download the Web version of “Report Card 2016” here EN_Belejnik 2016_web (2 MB)