Giving the best start to every child
Difficulties in child development can be overcome when they are identified in time
In Bulgaria, about 60 000 children are born annually. International studies show that 1 in 7 children has developmental difficulties.
It is scientifically proven that the earlier these difficulties are detected, the better chance the child has to overcome them.
For nearly 1/3 of children in Bulgaria, developmental difficulties or disabilities are detected too late - only after the age of 3.
According to UNICEF, not all areas of child development are systematically monitored.
Although almost 70% of parents in Bulgaria report that the GP weighs and measures the child's height at every visit.
Only 12% said their baby's doctor had ever completed a survey or other questionnaire about their baby's speech, social development or behaviour.
11% of parents who shared concerns about their child's development with their GP were advised to wait.
To support families with children with atypical development and professionals in the field, UNICEF is introducing an early childhood intervention system.
What is early intervention?
UNICEF is working to introduce systematic tracking of children's social-emotional and cognitive development alongside their physical development.
We are providing guidance to doctors and other health professionals to systematically implement these in the first 2 years of children's lives so that they can be included in early intervention services as early as possible if developmental difficulties are detected.
Once enrolled in an early intervention programme, the family of any child with a disability should receive support from trained professionals in their home - in the child's natural environment as well as in the nursery and kindergarten. Early intervention professionals do not work directly with the child, but with the child's parents, who know the child best and are with the child 24 hours a day.
UNICEF is working together with the Bulgarian government to support the development of a national early childhood intervention system so that all families with children under 2 can have timely information about their child's overall development and coordinated access to early intervention services.
With the funds raised from the Best Start for Every Child campaign, UNICEF will support 1,500 families with young children in the country and train 150 professionals.