This Christmas Santa Clause and UNICEF unite forces for the children in Bulgaria

UNICEF launches a campaign to advocate for the right of every child to education, care, and protection from violence

11 December 2023
Има деца, които не мечатят за играчки, а за грижа, образование и закрила
UNICEF Bulgaria/2023

Sofia, 11 December 2023 Days before Christmas, UNICEF Bulgaria launches a national fundraising and advocacy campaign titled “SOME CHILDREN ARE NOT DREAMING FOR TOYS”. And the new ambassador who will support the UN Children’s Fund in this is the Santa Clause himself.

Christmas is that time of year when every child dreams of receiving a special gift, families gather to celebrate and invite warmth and joy into their homes.  There are some gifts that Santa Claus can't bring alone, like care, protection, family, or inclusive education. But together with UNICEF and their supporters we can. UNICEF and Santa are calling for:

  • Еvery child to еvery child to has the best start in life, to receives support to develop their full potential and thrive;
  • Every child to be protected from violence, exploitation, abuse, neglect and harmful practices;
  • Every child to has a chance to go to school and learns;

Early Childhood development:

All families need support to invest as much as possible in their young child. For some families, guidance from a trained professional will be sufficient support to provide a more fulfilling environment. For some families, there are more issues that create barriers to a child learning and reaching their potential, which has a long-term impact on their health, education and behavior.

Bulgaria has a number of measures to ensure the survival of children, but there are no programs for provision of high-quality environment, which support the development, thrive and well-being of every young child. UNICEF together with the Government works to develop a universal progressive service program for children and families which aim to support the parents and other caregivers of young children for nurturing care provision.

Home visiting

Through the home visiting model, trained nurses and midwifes provide information, guidance, training and support for parents with a view to improving parental care of children, do early identification of risks to their optimal development (including risk of abandonment, neglect, violence or developmental difficulties) and early intervention in collaboration with other services and institutions involved with children and families.

The target group includes pregnant women and children up to 3 years old and their families, and the services are available to everyone, but their scope and intensity are tailored to the individual needs of each child and family. The main mechanism in the work of the services is home visits, which are carried out by qualified nurses with additional training in child health and development and work with families to promote healthy behavior.

 

Quality inclusive education

Latest data from the Ministry of Education and Science shows that the total number of children with disabilities and special needs in pre-school and school education system in Bulgaria, incl. special schools and centers, are over 27,000. For the majority, or around 15,000 of them (those with multiple disability, cerebral palsy, sensory disabilities, autistic spectrum disorder) communication with others is seriously challenged. These challenges affect their participation in learning, incl. in the process of needs assessment which is the basis for planning of adequate additional support.

Only about 10% of the special education teachers in Bulgaria use low-tech AAC and less that 3% use Speech Generating Devices (SDG) and AT and less than 5% use them in their practice.

C-board

The inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream kindergartens and schools without tools enabling their communication and without enough training and support for the teachers is not effective and often even impossible.

UNICEF developed Cboard, a free-of-charge mobile application aiding communication with symbols. It gives children who cannot speak the opportunity to communicate with their families, teachers and people around them. The application is adapted in Bulgarian and can be edited and tailored for the needs of each child by adding new symbols and content. UNICEF will continue training parents, teachers and specialists to use Cboard extensively in their daily communication and the education of children with special educational needs.

 

Prevention and protection of children from violence.

UNICEF focus on reducing violence at home, in school, in the community and online because it threatens children’s health and emotional well-being and can seriously affect their future prospects. Data from the national Emergency telephone No. 112 shows that from 2020 to July this year, the signals for domestic violence are 132,450 and there are 12,310 orders for immediate protection which were issues for the same period. Only for the first 6 months of 2023, there is a 40% increase in the reports of domestic violence compared to 2022. In nearly 70% of domestic violence cases, the victims are women, and in 25 %, the victims are children. According to the Protection against domestic violence act, children who are witnesses of domestic violence are also victims.

UNICEF created special services in 3 regions in the country (Montana, Sofia, Shumen) and are developing the model to provide specialized support to children, who experienced violence, and their parents – Child Advocacy and Support Centres ‘Zona ZaKrila’. At ‘Zona ZaKrila’, children and families are offered crisis interventions as different specialists provide social, legal and psychological support under one roof. UNICEF is currently supporting the expansion of the model in 3 additional Municipalities – Kjustendil, Yambol and Varna – and is supporting capacity building for specialists working with children and parents to prevent, identify and respond to violence.  

Anyone can support UNICEF's mission to help most vulnerable children in Bulgaria receive care, education, and protection. Become BLAGODETEL with monthly donations:

  • Online at www.dari.unicef.bg
  • or subscribe for BGN 5 monthly donation by sending SMS with text 5 to number 1021.
    The donations are free of VAT and taxes for the customers of all mobile operators in Bulgaria

Generosity is a gift!

We are also grateful for the support of our media partners NOVA Broadcasting Group, BTV Media Group, Bulgarian National Television, The Walt Disney Company Bulgaria, Jcdecaux Bulgaria and Metro Advertising.

Media contacts

Boryana Gidikova
Communication Officer
UNICEF Bulgaria
Tel: +359 893 52 52 40

About UNICEF:

UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential. And we never give up. UNICEF, for every child.