Deinstitutionalization of Children in Bulgaria: How Far and Whereto?


This Review, commissioned by UNICEF Bulgaria, is aimed at informing the recommendations for the Bulgarian Government’s Action Plan for the implementation of the National Strategy ‘Vision for Deinstitutionalisation of Children in Bulgaria.’ The program for implementation of the National Strategy was adopted in 2010 and has seen significant progress in the development of a network of social services for support of children and families since.

This review examines the implementation of the Action Plan at the time of the review (in April 2014), providing an update on progress made, and looks ahead to the coming period. According to the review, there is a reduced number of children entering institutional care and the number of children entering alternative community based family-type care or foster care has increased, though the overall number of children in formal care has remained the same. Overall, says the report, it seems likely that the Action Plan is and will continue to deliver improvements to child welfare.

The report also includes key findings from the review, along with an assessment of the impact childcare reform has had on the life of children so far, an evaluation of strengths and challenges of the implementation of the Action Plan, and potential amendments to the Action Plan. The report features several recommendations for the Action Plan, which include: using the ‘necessity and suitability’ principles from the UN Guidelines on Alternative Care for Children to underpin an adjusted Action Plan for 2015-2020; Developing a disability policy together with people with disabilities which addresses the whole life-cycle based on a holistic understanding of disability; establishing a data management and monitoring system with a unified data set; developing and implementing a long-term strategy for workforce development for social workers, social care workers, community workers and disability specialists which is linked to the planning cycles for the objectives of the Action Plan; and more.