Bulgaria

This country page features an interactive, icon-based data dashboard providing a national-level overview of the status of children’s care and care reform efforts (a “Country Care Snapshot”), along with a list of resources and organizations in the country.

List of Organisations

demographic_data

Demographic Data

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6.98 million
Total Population
World Bank, 2019
16%
Population Under 18
 
National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria (NSI), 2019
2.3
People
Mean Household Size
LFS 2011
17.7%
Prevalence of Female-Headed Households
 
NSI, 2019
Upper Middle-Income Country
World Bank GNI Status
NO SOURCE GIVEN
23.8%
Living Below Poverty Line
 
World Bank, 2019
41.3
GINI Coefficient
World Bank, 2018
0.816
Human Development Index
UNDP, 2019

childrens_living_arrangement

Children's Living Arrangements

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%
Country
 
NO SOURCE GIVEN
47%
Living with Both Parents
 
NSI, 2018
i
This is the percentage of living-together married couples with children. This data comes from an official situational analysis called "Жените и мъжете в България през 2018", published by the NSI. It should be noted that the paper uses data from the last national population censuses that took place in 2011. Another one is being done right now actually, so we'll have more accurate data at the end of this year.
14.7%
Living with One Parent
 
NSI, 2018
i
This is the percentage of single-parents households.
%
Effective
 
NO SOURCE GIVEN

children_living_without_bio

Children Living Without Biological Parents

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0.5%
Living in Kinship Care
 
Agency for Social Assistance, 2019

Children at Risk of Separation

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33.90%
Children living below poverty line
 
Children at risk of poverty or social exclusion (AROPE) in 2019
i
The number of extremely poor families increased due to staff cuts or forced unpaid leave. There is a real danger that children who have been recently reintegrated into such families will be abandoned again. https://eurochild.org/uploads/2020/12/2020-Eurochild-Semester-Report.pdf"
Children Engaged in Child Labor
9,400
Children
Executive Agency "General Labor Inspectorate", 2019
i
Number of children aged 16-18 officially employed to work with a special permission, according to the Bulgarian legislation.
Children with Disabilities
32,000
Children
Agency for Social Assistance, 2019
i
There is no official statistics on this, but the experts generally agree that the number of children with disabilities can be estimated according to the social aids that their parents are receiving from the state and 32,000 is the estimated number. About 23,000 children with disabilities attend schools and kindergartens according to the Ministry of Education.
Left Behind Children (Migration)
270,000
Children
UNICEF, 2014
i
"Ефекти върху децата, оставени от родители, които работят и живеят в чужбина", 2014
Ethnic Minority Children
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Analysis of the Child Protection System in Bulgaria, 2019
i
"Romani Children are overrepresented in institutional care, representing up to two thirds of all children in Bulgaria."
Children Affected by HIV
NO DATA AVAILABLE
WHO, 2019
i
It should be less than 100 according to the graphs in WHO’s paper “HIV/AIDS surveillance in Europe 2019”. This is known for sure, but for some reason the data is not publicly available, so again – we’ll have to ask for it, this time the Ministry of Health.
Street Connected Children
NO DATA AVAILABLE
NO SOURCE GIVEN
i
There’s no reliable official data. Again, if you look at the services provided to street children the record will be for about 100-150 children, while experts (e.g. SOS Child Villages who are actively working with this group of children in Bulgaria) claim that between 2,500 and 4,000 fall in this category as defined by UNICEF.
Children Experiencing Violence
NO DATA AVAILABLE
NO SOURCE GIVEN
i
Child protection departments have been working on exactly 446 confirmed cases of violence against children in 2019. However, arguably the number of children who suffer violence is far greater. According to a very recent study by UNICEF about 47% of all children in Bulgaria have experienced violence in some form or another, which means that basically every second child has been a victim. This is a huge problem for the country and a topic that is highly sensitive and tough to research.
Children in Conflict with the Law
200
Children
Opening Doors Factsheet, 2018
Children on the Move
799
Children
State agency for refugees in Bulgaria, 2020
i
This is the number of unaccompanied minors who have entered that country and applied for refugee status or some other procedures under the law during the year. In reality, few of this children remain in Bulgaria for more than 2-3 months up to a year in rare cases. Bulgaria is a transit country and children just move though it to re-connect with families or search for better future in Western Europe.
Children of Single Mothers
360,000
Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN
i
This is the number of mothers who raise their child alone, some of them have more than one child.
Children Whose Parents Lack "Parenting Capacity"
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Analysis of the Child Protection System in Bulgaria, 2019
i
Defined as the "lack of knowledge and skills on parenting or a underdeveloped sense of responsibility to raise the child" (Analysis of the Child Protection System in Bulgaria, 2019)
Children Whose Parents are in Conflict with the Law
12,500
Children
National Netowrk for the Children, 2018
i
This is just the number of children whose parents are in jail, according to a recent study conducted by an NGO in Bulgaria.

Formal Alternative Care Arrangements

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0 Families/Parents
0 Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN
0 Families/Parents
0 Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Total Family-Based Alternative Care
- - Families/Parents
6,496 Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Foster Care
- - Foster Families/Foster Parents
1,948 Children
Agency for Social Assistance, 2019
Formal Kinship Care
- - Families/Parents
4,548 Children
Agency for Social Assistance, 2019
Total Residential Care
- - Settings
- - Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Larger Institutions
- - Settings
979 Children
Opening Doors for Europe's Children Factsheet, 2018
Small Group Homes
- - Settings
3,095 Children
i
This is the number of children living in small group homes.
Agency for Social Assistance, 2019
Institutions for Children in Conflict with the Law
- - Settings
125 Children
State Agency for Child Protection, 2019
Specialised Institutions for Child Care
- - Settings
277 Children
i
There are only four institutions for children that are still functioning and they should be closed by the end of 2021.
Ministry of Health in an official letter to the Childhood 2025 Coalition, January 2021

adoption

NO DATA AVAIABLE
Country
NO SOURCE GIVEN
500
children
Domestic Adoption
Official data from the Annual Report of Agency for Social Assistance, 2019
i
Report of agency for social assistance.
178
children
Inter-country Adoption
Ministry of Justice, 2020
NO DATA AVAIABLE
Effective
NO SOURCE GIVEN

Progress Indicators

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Country
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Effective
 
NO SOURCE GIVEN
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Social Welfare Spending
NO SOURCE GIVEN
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Child Welfare Spending
NO SOURCE GIVEN
i
"Over €100 million from the EU structural funds, including the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, have been allocated to support the process of deinstitutionalisation" (Opening Doors Factsheet, 2018)
BGN 227.91 million
Child Protection Spending
UNICEF, 2019
i
"The assessment indicates that in 2018, the core funding for the provision of child protection in 2018 was BGN 227.912.211."
Alternative Care Policy in Line with the 2009 Guidelines
 
Mostly
The Family Code; Child Protection Act and its implementing regulation; Ordinance on the terms and conditions for the implementation of measures to prevent child abandonment and placement in institutions and reintegration adopted by Decree in 2003; National Strategy for Vision for Deinstitutionalisation 2010-2025; 2016 Action Plan for the implementation of the National Strategy
i
The National Strategy for Vision for Deinstitutionalisation 2010-2025 takes its mandate from the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, but gaps exist. In terms of alternative care of children, the principles of necessity and suitability are present in the different laws and policies; nevertheless, they have not been made more explicit or accompanied by a clear definition to ensure a more systematic application of them (Analysis of the Child Protection System in Bulgaria, 2019)
Centralised Authority on Adoption
 
No Data
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Commitment to Deinstitutionalistion
 
Yes
Vision for Deinstitutionalisation (DI) of Children in Bulgaria; 2016-2020 Action Plan for deinstitutionalisation; Continuing support for deinstitutionalisation of children and young people project; Updated Action Plan for the Implementation of the Vision for Deinstitutionalisation
i
"The Government’s commitment to achieve a complete transition from institutional to family- and community-based care by 2025, coupled with continued EU support, made Bulgaria a pioneer Member State in leveraging EU funding for catalyzing reforms in child protection" (Opening Doors Factsheet, 2018)
Comprehensive Child Protection Law
 
Mostly
Child Protection Act; Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria of 1991; Law on Social Services; Social Assistance Act; The Family Code; Family Allowances for Children Act; National Strategy for the Child (2008-2018); National Programme for Child Protection; National Strategy “Vision for Deinstitutionalization of Children in Republic of Bulgaria” 2010-2025; National Programme for Prevention of Violence and Abuse of Children 2017-2020
i
"Since the adoption of the Child Protection Act, Bulgaria started building a nation-wide child protection system, which also addresses issues related to prevention, identification and response to violence against children. Progress has been made with regard to knowledge generation; development and implementation of prevention programmes and services; raising sensitivity and awareness; coordination and referral mechanisms; specialized services for children victims of violence and abuse; monitoring and inspection system" (UNICEF, 2019)
Continuum of Alternative Care Services Available
 
Mostly
Foster Care, Family-Based Care, Small Group Homes, Residential Institutions, Adoption
i
There has been a considerable increase (over 200%) in the number of children in foster care from 2009 to 2017 (Opening Doors Factsheet, 2018)
Data System
 
Partly
ASA’s Integrated Information System (IIS)
i
"Launching the ASA’s Integrated Information System is a step towards modernization and optimization of the Child Protection system in Bulgaria, as it provides authorities with a tool to collect, store and easily access relevant information without delays. While the current functionalities of the system aren’t built for wider analytical purposes and provide general statistics taken from the multiple registers it holds, there still seems to be untapped potential in its use, as it can provide more insight into case and workforce management, as well as double as a monitoring tool for control of CPDs" (Analysis of the Child Protection System in Bulgaria, 2019)
Existence of a Regulatory Body and Regulatory System
 
Partly
SACP, ASA, Agency for Quality of Social Services and municipalities
i
"The structure of the child protection system is presently built around three institutions with primary responsibility for oversight and control of social services and the quality of the childprotection system: SACP, ASA, and municipalities. However, the 2019 Social Services Act (SSA) envisages the creation of the Agency for Quality of Social Services that will take over some of the control and oversight functions of SACP and ASA" (Analysis of the Child Protection System in Bulgaria, 2019)
Gatekeeping Mechanism/Policy
 
Mostly
NO SOURCE GIVEN
i
"There has been considerable investment in ensuring that all children referred to the authorities as being at risk or deprived of adequate care are supported through one unified gatekeeping mechanism. This mechanism applies to all children at risk or deprived of inadequate care, regardless of whether they are referred by a health, education, police or other professional or by a member of the public. Gatekeeping is led by an assigned social worker from the municipal Child Protection Department. They work in partnership with the child, his/her family, and health, education, police and other professionals to assess and respond to the care needs of the child. Decisions associated with placements into alternative care and removal or restriction of parental rights are taken by the local judiciary" (Gatekeeping - Making Decisions for the Better Care of Children, 2015)
Means of Tracking Progress with Reforms
 
Partly
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Moratorium on Admission into Institutions for Children Under 3
 
Yes
NO SOURCE GIVEN
i
This is part of the new Social Services Act adopted by the government in 2019.
Moratorium on New Institutions
 
Yes
NO SOURCE GIVEN
i
This is part of the new Social Services Act adopted by the government in 2019.
National Action Plan to Guide Reforms
 
Yes
Vision for Deinstitutionalisation (DI) of Children in Bulgaria; 2016-2020 Action Plan for deinstitutionalisation; Continuing support for deinstitutionalisation of children and young people project; Up-dated Action Plan for the Implementation of the Vision for Deinstitutionalization
i
The National Network of Children Bulgaria, the Coalition 2025 and the Expert Working Group on Deinstitutionalisation express concerns that the 2016-2020 Action Plan for deinstitutionalisation lacks clear division of responsibilities between relevant authorities; there is no multilateral coordination of activities with partners and stakeholders; the document lacks detailed planning, including specific timelines and monitoring. Furthermore, there was no consultations held regarding different operations under the Operational Programmes: neither in the Expert Working Group on Deinstitutionalisation nor in the Inter-Ministry Working Group (within the Council of Ministers). Furthermore, institutions for children in conflict with the law are excluded from the strategy on deinstitutionalisation (Opening Doors Factsheet, 2018)
National Standards of Care
 
Partly
NO SOURCE GIVEN
i
The government is working right now on those. They will be in place in 2022.
Prevention of Separation Services Available
 
Limited
NO SOURCE GIVEN
i
"There are more than 600 social services for children now funded by the national budget...In 2017 the work on developing a new Social Services Act was resumed." (Opening Doors Factsheet, 2018) However, the UNICEF analysis of the child protection system in Bulgaria (2019) found that prevention of family separation services are generally inefficient and current public policies do not correspond to the needs of the families, noting that "in their current state, efforts to prevent family-child separation suffer due to the fact that the guidelines and measures are scattered in multiple documents." Furthermore, the report notes that "prevention of child-parent separation is not yet fully operational: children are still separated in the same proportions over the years but placed with foster families rather than in residential care. Entrenched poverty and lack of community support are still amongst the main causes of parental neglect."
Support for Careleavers (in Legislation and in Practice)
 
Partly
Eurochild's "Growing up in lockdown: Europe’s children in the age of COVID-19" report, 2020
i
There is no state policy with respect to care leavers in Bulgaria. There is a general provision for preparation of a care leaving plan which in practice means a meeting between a social worker and a care leaver to complete a template.
Closure of Specialised Institutions for Children with Disabilities
 
Yes
Opening Doors Factsheet, 2018
Closure of Specialised Institutions for Children Deprived of Parental Care
 
Yes
i
Closed in 2020

social_work_force

Social Service Workforce

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Workers
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Country
--
Workers
Analysis of the Child Protection System in Bulgaria, 2019
No. of government social service workers with child protection responsibilities (per 100,000 children)
i
"The average workload according to the ‘open case’ criteria is 40, which is much higher than 30 cases that most social workers consider as adequate.
Workers
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Effective
A national workforce assessment and analysis carried out within the past four years
 
Yes
Analysis of the Child Protection System in Bulgaria, 2019
A system of licensing/registration of social service professionals
 
No
Analysis of the Child Protection System in Bulgaria, 2019
i
"Unlike other related professions such as school teachers,236 the minimum professional qualifications required for the position of a “social worker” is a high school degree. The ordinance for career development of the social workers further includes a requirement for possession of a specific knowledge of the goals of social work, ethical standards in working with clients and the legal framework for social protection, and some additional soft skills (teamwork, computer literacy). There is a requirement for a bachelor’s degree for the positions of chief social worker, but no specific areas of education have been mentioned. Similarly, while higher education is required for heads of child protection departments (CPDs), there are no specific educational or professional qualifications requirements (such as specific academic degrees or number of years of experience) stipulated in Social Protection Act or other relevant laws. In addition, there is no requirement for specialisation on child protection or any prior experience working with children" (Analysis of the Child Protection System in Bulgaria, 2019)

key_stakeholders

Key Stakeholders

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Country
Government
Effective

drivers_of_institutionalisation

Drivers of Institutionaliziation

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Push Factors
Pull Factors
Effective

key_research_and_information

Key Data Sources

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Country
Effective

Displaying 1 - 10 of 80

List of Organisations

European Commission,

The European Commission has proposed a “10-Point Plan for stronger European coordination on welcoming people fleeing the war from Ukraine” (endorsed by the European Parliament and the Council) that includes: creation of an EU platform for registration; an EU level coordinated approach for transport and information hubs; and a call to enhance reception systems and ensure continuity of care and suitable accommodation, among others.

UNICEF, UNHCR,

Children make up half of all refugees from the war in Ukraine, according to UNICEF and UNHCR. More than 1.1 million children have arrived in Poland, with hundreds of thousands also arriving in Romania, Moldova, Hungary Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Ryan Thoreson - Human Rights Watch,

For most children, nationality is clear-cut. Most countries pass nationality down to children who are born to at least one of their citizens, while a smaller number grant nationality to any child born on their territory. But citizenship laws are by nature more exclusive than inclusive. For children whose parentage or family structure is not recognized by the state, obtaining nationality and related documentation can be a daunting challenge.

SOS Children's Villages, European Union,

This basic awareness-raising course is for anyone who may come into contact with children and young people in alternative care settings. The aim of the course is to provide a brief understanding of trauma, the impact it can have on the lives of children and young people, and ways to support those who may be affected by it.

OBCT,

Bulgaria has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially at the expense of young students. The disparities have been particularly apparent in the more fragile communities, such as the Roma and Turkish ones

Transforming Children's Care Global Collaborative Platform,

This webinar, co-hosted with the Martin James Foundation, explores lessons learned in the development and strengthening of foster care systems in a number of countries and contexts, including emerging foster care systems in Bulgaria, Uganda, Cambodia, and Bangladesh as well as the more established foster care system in the UK, with a view to examining challenges and successes in implementation.

Know-How Center Bulgaria, Children and Family Initiative, and Changing the Way We Care,

These presentations from Know-How Center Bulgaria, Children and Family Initiative, and Changing the Way We Care, were delivered during the September 30, 2021, workshop of the Care Measurement Task Force of the Transforming Children's Care Global Collaborative Platform. The focus of the workshop was translating research evidence into action. 

Elevate Children Funders Group and Global Philanthropy Project with the research team Sentiido,

This report explores how gender-restrictive groups are using child protection rhetoric to manufacture moral panic and mobilize against human rights, and how this strengthens the illiberal politics currently undermining democracies.

Hope and Homes for Children,

This video tells the story of Kaloyan and Maria, twins who spent the first five months of their lives in an orphanage because social prejudice and poor health meant their parents could not care for them alone.

Joanna Rogers, Elayn M. Sammon, Luba Devetakova - UNICEF Bulgaria,

UNICEF Bulgaria's project, "Family for Every Child," aimed to demonstrate that viable alternatives to institutionalization exist, and that as long as a network of suitable support services is in place, deinstitutionalization is achievable. UNICEF Bulgaria commissioned this evaluation to establish whether the project had been successful