At the beginning of the year, National Network for Children held 6 webinars on the topics of the European Child Guarantee: Health, Nutrition, Early Childhood Development, Housing, Education and High-Risk Communities. Their goal was experts from state institutions and the non-governmental sector in the six areas to discuss good practices and proposals to assist state institutions in the implementation of the European Child Guarantee in Bulgaria.
As a result of these webinars, the experts of the National Network for Children prepared a document based on the analyzes, conclusions and proposals for specific measures and policies to be included in the National Plan for the Implementation of the Child Guarantee in Bulgaria.
The European Guarantee for the Child is an initiative of the European Commission as a logical continuation of the policies set out in the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child. The purpose of the Child Guarantee is to provide access to healthcare, education, early childhood care, affordable housing and adequate nutrition for the most vulnerable groups in the EU, thus reducing the proportion of children living in poverty and social exclusion throughout the Union.
In 2019, more than 18 million children (22% of children under the age of 18) in the EU live in households at risk of poverty or social exclusion. In Bulgaria this percentage is almost double. Their numbers are expected to have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The intention of the European Guarantee for the Child is to break the cycle of generational poverty, which leads to dropping out of education and damages health and education, and closes the cycle of poverty. The most affected Member States, including Bulgaria, have to spend 5% of their European Social Fund allocations plus the fight against child poverty and social exclusion. Member States may also use the European Regional Development Fund, and the Mechanism for Reconstruction and Sustainability to finance measures to combat child poverty and social exclusion.
The vision of National Network for Children is that the National Plan should be a dynamic document that should be changed, supplemented and edited to reflect the real needs of the children to whom it is addressed. It should clearly and specifically outline cross-sectoral policies and interactions between government institutions and non-governmental organizations that are effective in meeting the objectives of the Child Guarantee.
An important part of the plan should be the process of monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the planned activities. It is essential that all stakeholders, and above all the state institutions involved in the preparation and implementation of the Plan, realize the crucial importance of the European Guarantee for the Child as an initiative that will unlock opportunities for a real break in the cycle of generational poverty and prosperity. to children and families at risk, and to build an understanding that although from such families, children have a life perspective.