Vision for Family Policy in support of children and families in Bulgaria

Photography credits: Silviu Ghetie

On the 1st of April 2016 the Bulgarian ational Network for Children (NNC), in partnership with the Commission for Education and Science organised a round table related to the need for introduction of a Family Policy in Bulgaria. The event was opened by the Chairwoman of the National Assembly, Ms Tsetska Tsacheva.

The Chairwoman of the commission for Education and Science, Ms Milena Damyanova was also present at the event and declared the support of the Commission for improving the legislation and introducing a single and comprehensive family policy. The Deputy Ombudsperson, Ms Diana Kovacheva took a similar stance and underlined how important is to ensure Bulgarian children’s happiness through the well-being of their parents. The Chairwoman of the State Agency for Child Protection and other officials also welcomed the initiative.

The National Network for Children, the Association Child an and Space  and The Research Institute for the Population and the Human (RIPH) as part of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) are working on a project focused on the development and adoption of state policy targeting parents and families, which is to foresee clear objectives, measures and actions in all areas affecting children’s well-being. The project is funded by EEA Grants.
According to the project partners, the state has no clear vision of how to support parents and families as they are mentioned only in a formal way in the official strategic documents that aim to improve the lives of children in Bulgaria. The number of “children raised by the state” continues to be high, even though the de-institutionalisation process continues. If families at risk would receive adequate support in time, many children would not be separated from their families.

The association Child and Space presented an analysis of the family policies applied in four European countries (France, Great Britain, Norway and Germany) which examines the three main models of welfare states. The expectation is that in-depth study of the different approaches of support by the state will contribute to the formulation of recommendations and best practices to be used in developing a unified policy to support parents and families in Bulgaria.
At the same time, a study of the attitudes and expectations about the current system for family support in the country shows that Bulgarian parents and families believe that the state is in debt to ensure a better quality of life for families with children.
Experts from the Research Institute for the Population and the Human (RIPH) – BAS, who conducted focus groups with parents with 1-2 children, parents with many children, parents of children with disabilities, single parents, and parents from Roma origin, have highlighted that 91% of respondents believe that policies for supporting families in Bulgaria are ineffective. Their criticism concerns the lack of quality services for children and the insufficient resources allocated by the state to support families.
Starting from November 2015, the Bulgarian National Network for Children organized various events to consult families and parents on the content of the future Vision for Family Policy. In January, a draft vision was also be published online for additional comments and later finalized. The analyses of the four European models of family policies will also be complemented by a comprehensive overview of the existing Bulgarian measures in the area. The final document will be officially presented at the end of April to various stakeholders including institutions, families, academics, embassies, NGOs, etc.