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UNICEF calls for enhanced efforts for deinstitutionalization and reform of the child welfare system in Bulgaria

Assistance being provided to children in the Mogilino Institution

SOFIA, 19 November, 2007 – UNICEF today renewed calls for accelerated efforts to improve the child welfare system in Bulgaria, particularly the reliance on institutionalizing children without parental care.

The United Nations Children’s Fund statement is made in response to a British documentary “The abandoned children of Bulgaria”, broadcasted by the BBC. This documentary depicts the intolerable situation at one institution in Mogilino. It once again emphasized that additional and urgent efforts have to be channeled towards prevention of institutionalization and improving assistance to children without parental care. 

A plan of action has been developed by the Government of Bulgaria with the ultimate objective of closing the institution in Mogilino. It will be implemented in partnership with UNICEF and an alliance of non governmental organisations. UNICEF provides support in the implementation of the plan in three main areas:

  • Emergency assistance for improving the quality of immediate care for the children currently living in the institution;
  • Individual assessment of the needs of each child, performed by a multidisciplinary expert team comprising a pediatrician, social worker, rehabilitation worker, and psychologist. The team would then develop individual care plans for every child, based on the assessment.
  • Assessment of the infrastructure and the level of development of services in the Rousse region and support to the Child Protection Department in Rousse in reintegration of children and development of foster care in the region.

As part of the plan, on November 7 and 8, UNICEF conducted a joint assessment mission of the institution in Mogilino, with the Agency for Social Assistance and representative of the alliance of NGOs to identify the immediate needs.

The main finding of the team confirmed that the overall standard of care provided to all 65 children in that institution was bad and the staff was no adequately qualified. The situation of three children was critical and they were hospitalized while another 20 children needed immediate additional care and feeding to alleviate deprivation caused by meagre nutrition and care.

Based on the assessment and the plan developed by the Government’s Social Assistance Agency a group of care providers and medical experts is being selected and will start working in the institution this week. They will provide immediate emergency care and psychosocial support to children while at the same time the individual assessments and plans for alternative care are developed. UNICEF has requested the Government to provide additional information on the conditions of care in other institutions for children with disabilities as part of the review of residential care system. 

UNICEF supports the Government of Bulgaria to undertake major reforms particularly to prevent the entry of children into institutions and to improve assistance to children without parental care. Key reforms are still needed to convert existing residential institutions into a system of community based services, thus protecting the right of the child to live in a family environment.

UNICEF will continue to assist the Government of Bulgaria to further expand family support services for prevention of abandonment and help local municipalities in designing appropriate interventions and channelling adequate financial resources for deinstitutionalization of children.   
      
For more information:

Tzvetelina Bonova, Communications Officer, +359-2-96-96-207, tbonova@unicef.org, UNICEF Bulgaria
UNICEF UK

 

 

 

 

UNICEF in Bulgaria

For more information on UNICEF in Bulgaria, visit the website.


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