National Network for Children introduced its ninth consecutive edition of the annual “Report Card 2020”, which evaluates the work of national institutions.
The government has abandoned the development of politics supporting children and families. These are the summarized results from the ninth consecutive edition of the annual report “Report Card 2020: What is the average government score for childcare?” which was introduced online on the 17th of June. Thus, the average grade is low: Average 3.00 (the grades are according to the Bulgarian grading system raging from 2- Poor to 6- Excellent).
The annual Report card by National Network for Children evaluates the major politics targeting the child welfare in Bulgaria. The authors of the 2020 report are 36 experts from civil society organizations who work with children and families daily. More than 400 children, young people, parents and professionals have participated in the 2020 Report Card edition, as well as the children-rapporteurs from the National Eurochild Forum – Bulgaria and youth network “Megaphone”.
These participants evaluate the progress of the government in eight key topics: Child welfare, Protection of children from all forms of violence, Early childhood development, Child Health, Education, Family environment and alternative care, Justice for children and Child participation.
“The main law in the sector – the Social Services Act, was postponed in 2019. Its adoption is the only way for Bulgarian children and families to be provided with accessible, qualitаtive and timely social services. Its forthcoming entering into force on July 1 is again in question. The Act itself was subjected to extreme propaganda , accompanied by a massive disinformation campaign by radical religious and political organizations”, commented George Bogdanov, the Executive Director of National Network for Children.
“In 2019, the discussion and work on the adoption of a National Strategy for the Child stopped. This decision violates the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Bulgaria, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and internal regulations such as Art. 1, para. 3 of the Child Protection Act. Overall, these actions can be interpreted as a refusal by the government to pursue any policies for the protection of Bulgarian children“, said George Bogdanov.
The grades in the Report Card are as follows:
Child welfare: Failed 2.50
The results from the Report Card indicate that one in three children in Bulgaria lives in risk of poverty.There are significant inequalities in family incomes and a weak impact of social payments. The social exclusion of children with disabilities and children with chronic and rare diseases continues to be strong.
Family environment and alternative care: Average 3.00
The number of children living apart from their families remains relatively constant. With the postponement of the Social Services Law and the National Strategy for the Child, the specific measures for supporting families and preventing the separation of children from their parents were postponed indefinitely. Issues regarding the quality of alternative care for children in residential services in the community remain unresolved.
Justice for children: Average 3
2019 was a consecutive year with no progress on children’s rights in conflict with the law, and children continue to be punished for actions for which adults bare no responsibility. Although in 2019 the work of the expert group on the Law on Educational Measures for Persons Who Have Committed Juvenile Crimes or Administrative Violations was resumed, the further plans for this law are still unclear.
Protection of children from all forms of violence: Failed 2.50
Bulgaria remained without a National Strategy for the Child and a plan to tackle the violence against children. This questions both – the assistance provided to children who have experienced violence, and the much-needed action by the responsible institutions.
Early childhood development: Average 3
The problems related to the insufficient number of specialists and lack of coordination between institutions also remain. There is a delay in the adoption of the National Strategy for Early Childhood Development. 2019 is a consecutive year where a large part of the planned actions by the government, such as maternal healthcare as a key point for the improvements in children’s health and the reduction of perinatal and neonatal mortality, were not realized.
Child health: Average 3
Bulgaria still does not have a modern National Multi-profile Pediatric Hospital. Despite the government’s commitments in 2020 to demolish the building in construction in the yard of Alexandrovska Hospital and rebuild the building, the project is still associated with many questions and ambiguities.
Education: Good 4
This is the field in which can be observed the greatest progress. Although there are problems with the quality of education in the low-populated areas, the functional illiteracy, a formal inclusive education in some places, the state as a whole is committed and trying to improve and develop education
Child participation: Average 3
There is no clear and general understanding of what authentic child participation is. The dominating attitude views the child mostly as an object of influence, and not so much as an independent subject and a full-fledged person with all rights.
“I appeal to you – the representatives of the state administration, the media, civil society organizations – lets remember that our main mission is to benefit society. Let us do what we can to ensure a stable, working and promising environment for children and their families. Let the assessments of 2019 never be repeated “, called Georgi Bogdanov.