According to “Opening Doors”, Bulgaria is a precursor Member State regarding policies and reforms in the children welfare system leading to deinstitutionalisation, mainly through its plan to achieve a full transition from institutional to family and community-based care by 2025. These reforms already achieved some good numbers, such as the 80% decrease in the number of children placed in institutional care and the increase of more than 200% in the number of children in foster care.
Nevertheless, some local organisations, such as the National Network of Children Bulgaria, criticised the Bulgarian government because of some flaws in the 2016-2020 Action Plan for deinstitutionalisation presented by the national administration. More than ten thousand children still live apart from their families and unaccompanied and separated children arriving in Bulgaria remain being held in centres for refugees that do not meet the proper conditions to ensure children’s safety.
Answering to these critics, the Bulgarian government continues to pursue deinstitutionalisation’s reforms in the children social and welfare system through the reestablishment of the work on the new Social Services Act and through the implementation of a two-year project “Continuing support for deinstitutionalisation of children and young people”, funded by the EU.
Concerning the European framework, Opening Doors considers that the EU should reinforce its support to the deinstitutionalisation process by better funding the necessary projects. On the national level, Opening Doors recommends that Bulgaria ensures sustainability of the EU-funded reforms on deinstitutionalisation.
The full list of latest Opening Doors fact sheets on deinstitutionalisation is available here.