At the beginning of November 2016, the new amendments in the Regulation for Implementation of Social Assistance Act were enacted. According to them, the name and the profile of the existing Family Type Placement Centers for children and youth with disabilities were changed. Following these amendments that differentiate the existing family-type placement centres for children and young people with disabilities to such being only for children and separately for adolescents, the Agency for Social Assistance has issued a letter to all Child Protection Departments in Bulgaria asking to prepare children and young people with disabilities for move due to the change of the service profiles by April 2017. If acted upon, this normative change will require moving children from alternative care placements in a way that runs counter to their best interests.
The Opening Doors campaign works to build the capacity of civil society organisations and ensure their involvement in legislative, policy and public spending decisions. Civil society are closest to the children and young people involved and have a better understanding of how policies impact children directly. They can also ensure that children and young people themselves are involved in decisions taken about their lives.
This latest case in Bulgaria is illustrative of how policies can, seemingly unknowingly, put bureaucracy before the best interests of children. We are working to ensure this never happens. Children, families and communities must be at the centre of decision-making. Transparency and participation in decision making is key. Civil society has a crucial role to play and policy making suffers if governments ignore them.
Through its position and statement to the responsible state authorities, Opening Doors National Coordinator in Bulgaria, National Network for Children called for urgent repeal of the decree for preparation for displacement of children and young people with disabilities, placed in the existing Family Type Placement Centers and the second statement against the referrals of adults for assessments in the social services for children.
As a result of all the undertaken measures from the non-governmental organizations, the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy Denitsa Sacheva organised an urgent working meeting at the begging of January, with representatives of state authorities, municipalities and nongovernmental organisations to discuss the proposed amendments and to agree on the following steps for actions. Currently, the decision is to postpone the texts in the Regulation until the 1st of January 2018. In addition, new permanent working group was established by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy with the mandate to make an amendments in the problematic texts by the end of April, 2017.
- Read Opening Doors national coordinator in Bulgaria statement on the need for urgent repeal of the Agency for Social Assistance indicative letter for preparation of children and youth with disabilities living in Family Type Placement Centers for move by the end of April 2017 (click here to read the full text)
- See a letter to the Bulgarian government from Coalition “Childhood 2025”, an alliance of 16 Bulgarian non-governmental organizations, networks and individual experts in response to the normative change (click here to read the full text)
- Read a joint press release by the Coalition “Childhood 2025” and National Network of Children (in Bulgarian)
- Read the latest news about the status of negotiations between the Bulgarian Givernment and the civil society organisations (in Bulgarian)
- Read about latest developments in deinstitutionalisation at the national level in Bulgaria