The National Network for Children sent an official letter to the leaders of the political parties and all responsible state institutions concerning the “media” case of the mother from Sliven town, which children were placed in a foster care because of bad living conditions. We think it’s unacceptable in EU, in 21st century children to be separated from their parents because of poverty.
Through our members, we understood that the mother was raised in institutional care and there’s been a case opened by the child protection department to support her as an adult since 2014. From our point of view, this is a typical case of the child protection system rather than an isolated one and indicates the high necessity of increasing the effectiveness of the system and creating of effective and sustainable measures to prevent the poverty and social exclusion.
At the beginning of June, 2016, the National Network for Children wrote to the prime-minister Boyko Borisov and the responsible state authorities to express our concerns regarding the unsolved urgent questions, connected with the child protection and children’s rights in Bulgaria and about the systematic regress, reflecting children and their parents.
Among the problems, outlined as essential are: the continuing high workload of the social workers, the lack of requirements for specialized high educational and professional standards, quality preparation and following trainings, monitoring, supervision, etc. We still have duplicate functions of rolls and the responsibilities between the Agency for Social Assistance and State Agency for Child Protection, which is not effective in the situation of limited financial state resources, but also leads to diluting the responsibilities in solving the concrete cases/causes, the monitoring and controlling the local Child Protection Departments.
The child policies and the rights of the child are theme, which requires integrated complex policy and decisions of existing and unsolved problems as child poverty, family oriented approach for supporting children and parents, development of services and implementation of standards for early childhood development, continuing and development of the deinstitutionalization process and others.
One of the key factors for decisions against poverty is the implementation of complex/holistic approach for child and family support through linking the social benefits with the social work. The support, based mostly on the financial assistance – social benefits and social payments – is not enough and often late, as for example, in practice it doesn’t provide the adequate support for the family.
The practical child protection work is difficult because of bad communication and cooperation between the different state authorities, which have responsibilities in child protection. The Coordination mechanism for children at risk and victims of violence is not legaly regulated and often the responsible institutions do not signalizing the child protection bodies for concrete cases, including children, victims of crimes.
In the past years, the state undertook various actions for improvement of vulnerable children’s life, but unfortunately the prevention, parents and family support is not in the focus of the policies, programs and interventions – examples for that are the National Strategy for the Child, Child Protection Act, case work/management methodology, in which the leading social worker is from the residential place of the child, not the family’s.
The child welfare is in direct connection with the family welfare. The lack of adequate parents and families support is associated with worse health and education indicators, emotional and behavioral problems in adulthood, substance abuse, crime and other challenges, each of them provide serious public consequences and costs.
In this relation, we call for shifting the focus of the current policies, programmes and practices primarily upon children and linking them with effective support for parents and families using strategical and program documents such as development of the National Strategy for the child and the families, National program for child and family support, as well as changing the existing legislation through the adoption of a new Child Welfare or Children and Families Act, changing the standards and guidance for work with children and families.
We believe that the investment in children and parents is no less important then the investment in economy. Investments in children, especially in early childhood development, are with higher public returns from the investments in other sectors. Family and parents support helps children to achieve better results, defend human rights and saves valuable resources for the whole society!