The National Network for Children (NNC) will speak about the deinstitutionalization process in Bulgaria during the International Conference on Childhood and Adolescence (ICCA). Georgi Bogdanov will present data on our country and challenges in the process at the Round Table ‘Deinstitutionalization of children and young people in Europe – portraits and challenges of Lithuanian, Bulgarian and Finnish care systems’. The session will be streamed live via the event’s online platform, but access is paid. Registration can be done here.
The ICCA International Conference aims to foster open dialogue on childhood and adolescence issues by providing a stage for multidisciplinary perspectives and diverse expertise in various fields, such as pediatrics, psychology, sociology, educational sciences, social work, nutrition, arts, law and sports, etc. The 8th edition of the Forum will be held between 24-26 January 2024. This year, the main topics will be new social issues in childhood.
In Bulgaria, the deinstitutionalization process in recent years has been blocked by the ongoing maintenance of the last four large institutions for children of the old type, which remained unclosed in 2022. The planned 2022 closure of the remaining 4 Medical and Social Care Homes in Pleven, Varna, Stara Zagora and Kardzhali did not take place. As we pointed out in the Report Book 2023 – the reason continues to be that the authorities are behind schedule with the construction of the necessary substitute infrastructure (20 Centers for specialized health and social care for children with disabilities in need of constant medical care and 6 Centers for specialized health and social care for children with high-risk behavior and need for special health care). Thus, 209 children in our country continue to spend their childhood in specialized institutions, 82 of them over 3 years – permanently institutionalized with all the consequences of this.
It is noteworthy that a balance of leavers (85) and new arrivals (79) is maintained, both in general and by institution, which shows a desire for preservation of the status quo. At the same time, a huge problem continues to be the fact that almost every fifth foster family has not accepted any children. The increasing trend in the number of terminated adoptions and the return of children to residential care continued in 2022. There is lack of support for prospective adoptive parents, as well as no assessment of the change in the attitudes and motivation of future parents, which ought to be the foundation of any successful adoption.