Bulgaria to Start Moving Children from Orphanages
Bulgaria’s Health Ministry has announced it is starting to gradually close orphanages for children below three years of age.
According to the ministry, all the children from the orphanages have to be returned to their biological parents or given for foster care in the next 15 years.
The first nine orphanages for children below three years of age will be closed in the next five years. The financing, which is expected to be more than BGN 26 M, will be provided under the operation programs “Regional Development” and “Human Resources Development.”
The process of shutting down such institutions is part of the “Vision for deinstitutionalization of children in Bulgaria,”
The number of institutions for children below three years of age is 32. They have accommodated 2,334 children and only 0,7% of them are orphans.
According to the Health Ministry, the most common reasons why parent abandon their children are social-economic problems, lack of skills or capacity for raising children, health problems, family violence, unwanted or premature birth.
Analyses, however, show that appropriate policy could allow children to be returned to their families or could prevent their abandonment in the first place.
However, the opportunities for every child depend on the specific circumstances.
Data from the ministry shows that a total of 1,260 children from the 32 orphanages are not disabled and at least half of them could be returned to their biological families. The rest could be adopted or accommodated with foster parents.
At present, there are more than 475 foster families in Bulgaria, which have accommodated more than 417 children. Last year, 800 children were adopted. The rest 1,074 children that are left in the institutions have disabilities or chronic illnesses.
Because of the large number, the Health Ministry is starting verification of the diagnoses they have been given. The goal is to check whether the children are receiving adequate care and treatment.
The checks will begin November and will continue throughout the whole month. The procedure will then continue with development of individual plans for reintegration opportunities for every single child.
A priority in the process of removing children from orphanages will be their interest. The first option will try to accommodate the child in a family environment or in conditions close to it.
For this purpose, the government’s efforts will be focused on providing support for parents who have difficulties raising their children. Also, family advisory centers will be built where pregnant women and mothers will be able to receive assistance.