Bulgarian National Network for Children launches Report Card 2017

For the sixth consecutive year the National Network for Children presented its annual report “REPORT CARD 2017: what is the average government score for childcare?” The report was presented simultaneously in Sofia and in eight other cities in Bulgaria.

More than 25 experts authored the texts as well as 6 external specialists, who reviewed the commitments and put grades to the institutions. Traditionally, when developing the texts, the National Network for Children considers the point of view of the institutions, the opinions of all 144 member organizations of the Network as well as the input of external experts so that the achievements and the challenges could be assessed in the most objective possible manner. Each year “Report Card 2017” reviews and assesses the commitments of the institutions in five main areas – “General Principles under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”, “Family Environment and Alternative Care”, “Healthcare”, “Education” and “Justice”.

The current edition of the “Report Card” is even more special, as it offers a new approach for including children, young people and adults in its production. For the first time, apart from the expert report, there is a special edition presented by the name “Report Card: how children, parents and professionals evaluate the state?” The text reflects on consultations and focus groups with the participation of nearly 900 children, young people, parents and professionals and demonstrates how they experience in their real life the state policies and commitments towards them and what excites and worries them the most.

This year there is a slight drop in the execution of the relevant state commitments and the grade point average in “Report Card 2017” is 3.20 (out of 6.00). Last year, the state’s GPA was 3.28 and it was the highest score since the beginning of the initiative. In 2015 the GPA of the state was also 3.20.

This year the highest scores are in the area of Healthcare – 3.64. The highest score belongs to the subdomain of “Infant Mortality”, followed by “In-patient and Patient Care”, respectively with 4.36 and 3.71. The ascending scores are owed mainly to the results in relation to the reduction of the scale of infant mortality and the efforts for prioritizing mother and baby healthcare.

The next highest score in 2017 is in the area of “Education” with an average grade of 3.44, which is almost identical to last year’s score – 3.45. One could observe there is an increase of the grades in the subdomain of “School Education” and of the commitments related to inclusive education. At the same time, there is a decrease in the subdomain of the education and the care in early childhood, which is the result of the stagnation and the lack of a vision for long-term solution to the challenges on the national level in the area of care for children aged 0-7 an their inclusion in the nurseries and kindergartens.

The “Justice” area gets a score of 3.05 (a decrease of 0.40 as of last year). The reform in the system of juvenile justice is still not a fact, even though in 2016 the Ministry of Justice developed a project Law on Diversion, which was intended to substitute the archaic legislation if the area. The amendments are still now welcomed by all stakeholders and have not reached the stage of discussion in the Council of Ministers. At the same time, the development of the draft Law is a huge step forward, especially in comparison to what was achieved during the last 5 years. At the same time the situation at the Social-Pedagogical and Correctional Educational Boarding Schools continues to be extremely worrying in relation to the quality of life of the children placed there.

The area of “Family Environment and Alternative Care” has a score of 3.01 – almost identical to the score for 2016 – 3.02.  In spite of the commitment declared on the side of the state for supporting parents and guaranteeing the right of the child to family through the creation of prevention and alternative services for children and closure of the specialized institutions, in practice there is still no comprehensive approach for supporting children and families in the country.

The lowest score in “Report Card 2017”, similarly to the previous years, is in the area of “General Principles under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child” – 2.86 (in 2016 it was 2.01). The lowest graded subdomain is “Non-discrimination” with a score of 2.13. For the fifth consecutive year one could not report on progress for creating a special unit to review cases of discrimination against children; the Bulgarian state keeps on being one of the three countries in the EU without a specialized Ombudsperson on the rights of the child; there are still practices and unequal treatment of refugee children, children with disabilities and Roma children in relation to their access to quality education, healthcare and adequate housing and social environment.

The current “Report Card” is special because of the fact that the National Network for Children made a review and account of the development of the policies for children and families, based on the expertise from the last five editions of the “Report Card”. This way one could follow up which ones from the recommendations and the commitments that were not kept are taken into consideration and whether there is a real progress in certain areas. Apart from the recommendation of the Bulgarian experts the Report Card takes into consideration the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which were given to the Bulgarian state in June 2016.

One can find and download the full versions of the “expert” and the “small” „Report Card 2017” from here:

The expert report “REPORT CARD 2017: what is the average government score for childcare?” can be downloaded here.

Small report “Report Card: how children, parents and professionals evaluate the state?” can be downloaded here.