DECENTRALIZATION OF THE RESIDENTIAL CARE
HOMES FOR CHILDREN DEPRIVED OF PARENTAL
CARE – CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
…I like the room here at the institution, but I like home better. I go home only during holidays … I miss
Child placed in a child welfare institution
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Methodology and scope of the study 6
CHAPTER ONE: DESCRIPTION OF THE SITUATION AT THE INSTITUTIONS 7
1.2. Quality of life 10
1.2.1. Healthcare 10
1.2.3. Leisure time, entertainment activities and personal money 14
1.2.5. Violence at the institutions 17
1.3. Reform through the perspective of institution directors and staff 19
CHAPTER TWO: ANALYSIS OF THE CAPACITY OF THE LOCAL
2.1. Approach in the process of decentralization 24
2.2. Idea of the local authorities about the employees at the institutions 25
2.3. The municipalities’ vision in respect of developing social services that will result in
deinstitutionalization of children 27
2.4. Review of the legislative framework governing the institutions for children deprived
of parental care 33
2.4.1 The change since January 2007 33
2.4.2. Management 33
2.4.3. Employment relations with the institutions’ staff 34
2.4.4. Financing 34
2.4.5. Regulation for organization and operation of the child welfare institutions – State Gazette,
issue No.31 from April 2007 36
The reform of the care system for children at risk started in 2000. The purpose of the reform
may be defined as accomplishing change from a problem typified approach of defining the
needs of children at risk and collectively organized method of work into individualization of
care and putting the best interest of each child into the focus of social intervention. In the
beginning of the reform, for each type of problem there was a single answer – institution of
boarding type, where the basic methodology is the collective1 one. Whenever the child had no
family or the family had difficulties in looking after the child, the society’s response was
institutionalization, upon behavioural problems – again institution, Social Pedagogical
Boarding School and Correctional Boarding School, upon health, mental or physical problems
– specialized institutions, residential care homes for disabled children. At the start of the
reform, Bulgaria had more than 34 thousand institutionalized children, representing 1.7% of
the child population.
In 2003 the definition of a “specialized institution” was adopted. Additional Provisions of the
Child Protection Act define this type of institutions as follows: “establishments of
residential type for rearing and upbringing of children where the latter are permanently
separated from their family environment”. Thus, through institutions dropping out, it
was arrived to the conclusion that the total number of children is 14 170 in 189 institutions.
Two major activities of the CPDs – prevention of abandonment and reintegration with the
birth family – underpin the deinstitutionalization. After the initial fast progress in applying the
“placement in kinship care” measures, the following years (2005 and 2006) are marked with a
clear-cut tendency of increasing the share of institutionalization in the total number of
placements outside family environment. In more than 70% of the institutions, the quality of
care for the children is still not compliant with the standards laid down in the Ordinance on
criteria and standards applicable to social services for children. The RCHCDPCs operate
based on a model, which orients the care mostly towards meeting the children’s educational
needs. The personnel has pedagogical competence, which in the case of Bulgaria means
teaching competence, i.e. specialists are university graduates in the field of philology,
chemistry, history, etc. This circumstance, along with the large number of children per group
cared for by a small number of specialists, acts as an obstacle to the individualization of care.
The new policy facilitating development of alternative social services for children and
families in Bulgaria speeded up the process of deinstitutionalization. However,
deinstitutionalization had to come after decentralizing the management of a part of the
specialized childcare institutions. Decentralized management, via changing the status of these
institutions, had to result in development of greater number and variety of social services for
children and families at the communities. Among others, decentralization is expected to
change the model of work and facilitate transformation of the institutions into social centres
offering new type of care and services. Thus, in the beginning of 2007 the Residential Care
Homes for Children Deprived of Parental Care (RCHCDPCs) were transferred for
management to the municipal administrations, with methodological guidance by the Ministry
of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP). Decentralization of the RCHCDPCs is a crucial step
forward towards reforming and restructuring the institutions. However, the manner of
providing for this action raises serious concerns and entails a risk of jeopardising the
children’s most basic needs. The manner of ensuring methodological support to the
restructuring also hides a risk for accomplishment of change in the essence of things – the
attitude towards children, the methodology of work, the capacity of the personnel.
National representative study “Social assessment of the child welfare in Bulgaria”, the UNDP and the World
The political decision to reform the child welfare institutions affiliated to the Ministry of
Education and Science (MES) was belated. It was preceded by series of efforts on behalf of
many international and non-governmental organizations, which in the course of six years
claimed that decentralization of the RCHCDPCs is the main obstacle to deinstitutionalization
and development of services. The significant delay and political hesitation in this direction
slowed down the development of alternative services. What is more, today we have much
more profound problems with unresolved cases of children living in the institutions. Today
these children bear the signs of institutionalization and it will take much longer time and
resources for them to cope with these deficits.
The major challenge we as professionals working on child-related issues face is to reform
these institutions by developing such services that are capable of meeting the specific needs of
the children and their families. Today the Bulgarian family is in a massive crisis, coping with
unemployment, poverty and isolation. The children prove to be the most vulnerable and it is
our responsibility to transform the services using the state delegated resources provided for
the institutions in a much more humane, integrated and up-to-date approach applied globally
in the modern social work.
This study makes a snapshot of the institutions’ situation as of May 2007, but the focus lays
on outlining the needs of the local authorities in relation to the institutions’ management and
their vision concerning the childcare services development. We strongly hope that this study
will help in developing and applying follow-up support programs for the local authorities with
the aim to build their capacity in order to be able to provide services for children and families
at local level.
The study aims to identify the situation of the childcare at the RCHCDPCs and the needs of
support of the various actors in the decentralization process, with a view to ensure the best
interest of the institutionalized children.
Tasks of the study:
1. Assessment of the current situation and needs of the children in the period of
transformation of the RCHCDPCs from structures within the MES system into
2. Assessment of needs of the local authorities in connection with taking over the
responsibility for the institutions.
3. Conclusions, proposals and recommendations.
This report comprises three main parts. The first part describes the state of the institutions.
The second part focuses more on the attitudes, needs and vision of the local authorities in
respect of the institutions’ management. In the last, third part, the team has outlined the key
conclusions and recommendations for the structures influencing the formulation of policies
concerning children at the specialized institutions.
Last, but not least, we would like to thank the whole team who worked dedicatedly and within
three weeks completed the large-scale study in all 80 child welfare institutions throughout the
country and presented the opinion of children, representatives of the local authorities,
institution directors and staff.
Assoc. Prof. Neli Petrova - Dimitrova, Georgi Bogdanov and Nadya Stojkova prepared the
study methodology and made the analysis. The field work was carried out by the Sofia team:
Georgi Neshkov, Lyubomir Lazarov, Christina Otcetova, Nadezda Deneva, Venelina
Bogdanova and Maya Haralampieva; Shumen team: Svetlana Albenova, Vessela Sergeeva,
Ivelina Ivanova, Emil Stefanov, Vildan Mehmed, Veneta Gospodinova, Krassimira Todorova,
Neli Alexandrova, Deyana Zhecheva, Nunik Kalledzhian, Kremena Zhekova and Dobromir
Gerchev; Pazardjik team: Galina Boyadzhieva, Nina Stoyanova, Luchezar Roshlev, Darina
Velikova, Maria Kuneva, Martina Petkova, Yana Staneva, Ivanka Fileva, Gergana Ignatova,
Stoyanka Karaboycheva, Dosta Garcheva, Atanaska Mundzhijska, Aneta Marinova, Teodor
Shopov and Dimitriika Peeva.
Methodology and scope of the study
The main objective of this study was to explore the capacity of local authorities to handle the
process of decentralization of institutions for children deprived of parental care and to
implement the government policies related to deinstitutionalization and establishment of
alternative social services.
The scope of the study extends over 80 RCHCDPCs and the respective municipal authorities.
The study does not consider the RCHCDPC in Stara Zagora and the RCHCDPC in Trun
because of the ongoing activities for their restructuring carried out by the UNICEF and ARC
The field experts visited all 80 specialized institutions and undertook 274 in-depth interviews.
They conducted 93 interviews with local authority representatives, 94 interviews with
children and 87 interviews with directors and staff of the specialized institutions. The study
uses mainly qualitative methods. The common opinions and recommendations of the
respondents were summarized through a coding system, which presents the qualitative results.
For the purposes of conducting the study were organized training sessions and workshops
where 33 field experts of SAPI were given special instructions and were familiarized with the
specificity in respect of field work implementation and primary data analysis.
The study had the following specific objectives:
Situational analysis in respect of the institutionalized children, focusing on the living
conditions and the basic life needs.
Description of specific cases with apparent problems relative to violated children’s
rights and limited access to resources for meeting the basic life needs of the children at
Analysis of the local authorities’ capacity relative to decentralization and
transformation of the institutions into alternative social services.
Outline of specific and recurrent problems encountered by the local authorities in the
process of transferring the institutions from the Ministry of Education to the local
authorities, including problems relative to the legal framework and budget funding.
Outline of the main gaps related to the capacity of local authorities in connection with
the institutions’ management and recommendations for support and strengthening
For each specialized institution was elaborated a situational map describing its infrastructure
and overall state.
CHAPTER ONE: Description of the situation at the
1.1. Infrastructure of the HCDPCs2
In general, the assessments in respect of the condition of buildings and infrastructure of the
child welfare institutions visited for the purposes of the study are satisfactory. In the course of
the years, all institutions have made efforts to improve their infrastructure in one way or
another, depending on the management’s skill to administer the traditionally scarce state
subsidies and its initiative to raise additional funds. As a whole, the interior and furniture is
out-of-date, the bedding is replaced in just a few institutions. The progress in respect of
infrastructure improvement at those few institutions is due mainly to financing obtained
through Bulgarian and foreign non-government institutions and donations made by private
“Our bathroom was repaired 5 years ago with money from the British Embassy, but is already for repair again.
Last year some young Spaniards from a foundation came to the Home and, when they saw the conditions here,
collected money, purchased materials and painted the dormitories. The most important thing – they purchased
for the bigger children new bunk-beds of IKEA, with modern design, solid ones, purchased new mattresses and
“Improvement of the conditions at the institution we make only with donors. For instance, from the Russian
Embassy we received: a minivan, aluminium window and door frames, repair of the dormitories, indoor sanitary
units, reconstruction of the kitchen unit. The MES has not given any money for repairs, except for the heating
After transferring the institutions to municipal management, the most exigent repairs of the
buildings and premises are the main task, which the local authorities are focusing on. Massive
repair works are ongoing or planned for the nearest future everywhere. The window and door
frames are being replaced – most often the existing wooden frames are changed with
aluminium ones. Routine repairs of sanitary units are undertaken , leakages are removed as
well as breakdowns of the water supply and sewerage installations. Reconstructions of the
living space are ongoing or planned in order to set up smaller rooms to arrange the indoor
setting and atmosphere in resemblance to the family-like environment. Commonly seen is the
understanding that individualization of childcare is needed and rearrangement of architectural
space is a precondition to that. The recommendations given in the assessments of the State
Agency for Child Protection (SACP) are taken into account too.
“In the assessment we are given directions for reform and are awarded 94 points. Our highest coefficient is for
the quality of care. The infrastructure is given lower score, there is no equipped medical consulting room, but
we are already making one now. In respect of the planning, we have high score too. The recommendation is for
reform – provision of alternative services and in substance for children and adolescents with deviant behaviour.
Each service has designated space and it takes into account the number of children in the service. At the
HCDPC is the new abbreviation of the institutions. According to their Rules of operation the institutions are
renamed into Homes for Children Deprived of Parental Care.
Sheltered Space and the Crisis Centre we have made reconstruction into a bedroom and living room. We are
replacing the equipment and we are at the final stage. The space of the institution is huge and may be turned into
a centre for social services.”
However, in many cases there are still problems relative to detaching private space for the
children, be it because of irrational distribution of indoor space or because of overpopulation
in those institutions where the number of beds at the dormitories, especially for the bigger
children, varies between 10 and 15. This is due to the fact that in these institutions children
are accommodated from other already closed residential care homes. The best conditions of
hygiene and cosiness are observed in institutions with small number of children and in
institutions for children aged from 3 to 7, where the conditions are similar to those at the
The children in all institutions have bed linen at their disposal changed either weekly or every
two weeks. The bed linen at the institutions with little children is changed every day.
Showering is two-three times a week and in most cases the children have access to hot and
cold water at anytime. In the locations where recent repairs have been carried out, the state
and hygiene at the showers and lavatories are good. Seldom each dormitory has an
autonomous sanitary unit – in most cases there is one sanitary unit on each floor. The lavatory
pans at the institutions for children aged 3 to 7 are suitable for the children’s age. The service
staff takes daily care of the hygiene and disinfection at the showers and lavatories.
Everywhere the older children participate in cleaning of the dormitories and dining rooms,
according to a timetable, and in some locations – of the sanitary units too. The children are
aware of their role in keeping the sanitary units clean.
“Whether the toilets are clean? Not really, in the morning they are cleaned, but by the evening it is complete
chaos. This is because of the youngsters who are unable to keep clean. This summer our second floor was
repaired. They put new terracotta tiles, separated the showers with aluminium frames, new washbasins. We can
use the showers at anytime. Hot water is available usually in the morning, when the heating is on. If there isn’t,
it is not a problem to call the heating man and ask him to provide hot water.”
“Yes, they are clean. This summer they repaired the showers and lavatories. There is always hot water warmed
up with a boiler. The lavatory is located on the first floor and there are two shower rooms – one for girls and
one for boys.”
“The men’s wing where we are is pretty neglected. The showers are not working well and sometimes we go to
shower at the girls’ showers. I don’t remember any repairs since I was placed here. The lavatories are dirty and
the doors are broken. Well, it is quite nasty.”
Shteryu, 16 г.
In some institutions where the conditions allow for that, living rooms have been established
bearing a resemblance to home-like atmosphere – upholstered furniture, TV set and audio
player, flowers and cabinets for learning aids and materials. The study rooms, furnished
within the means of each institution, are intended for preparation of the children for school,
and in some institutions they play also the role of a living room. In the institutions where no
study rooms are available the children use classrooms at schools.
To this day the learning process at the study rooms is neglected and many of the interviewed
children state that they do their homework at the dormitories on improvised tables and
bedside tables, without the help of the educators who are usually alone when on duty. After
cancelling the obligation for provision of educational service, it is good to keep the study
rooms as a place where the children could quietly read and prepare their lessons, as there is no
place and furniture for this purpose at the dormitories.
Most of the institutions have computers and internet at their disposition. Usually this
equipment is located in rooms specially equipped for this purpose, to which the children have
controlled access. Normally, older children use computers. However, the major computer-
related studies take place at the schools. Usually, the institution directors organize the
teaching for the children at the computer labs, because majority of the educators do not have
“When I am at the institution during the day I open the computer lab for them and show them how to work, how
to open a document, how to save a document; computer games are also installed, but in this respect they do not
need my assistance, internet is available on two of the computers. When I come for a night duty shift, I have
more time and we work longer together, but I am alone, none of the colleagues is able to work with computer,
it’s a pity, of course, but this is already a matter of willingness ... I can not force them, especially as now we
will not be pedagogues any more ...”
It is a common practice for the directors not to respect the requirement to have a private room
for meetings with relatives. In the instances where such rooms were available, we found that
they are hastily arranged for this purpose, kept locked, full of equipment and obviously not
used according to their purpose. Usually, the director’s office, the living room or the corridor
are used as places for meetings with relatives. A special logbook is kept with personal details
of the visitors and timing of the meeting upon visits of children’s relatives.
“There is no specifically designated space, the meetings are held at the computer lab and at the director’s office,
there is a staff member who is responsible by priority for the connection with parents. Frequency of meetings
with persons in kinship – there is a well-kept logbook for the visits of children’s parents and kinship, where the
data from the visitor’s personal documents are recorded, along with a signature under a written statement
confirming the commitment to return the child back. There are children whose parents have never visited the
institution. There are parents who have to be reminded that they are parents. Since 2004 till present there are
320 registered visits, i.e. about 100 visits per year.”
Quotation from an institution chart
“At the institution there is no specially designated room for meetings with children’s kinship and parents – the
office of the institution’s director is used for this purpose. Frequency of meetings with persons in kinship –
according to the director, often children’s kinship come for visits and are recorded in a special visitors register,
but there are children who are never visited, there is one child who has four zeros in its civil identification code,
i.e. no information about the parents.”
Quotation from an institution chart
Practically in all institutions, there is a need for learning aids and materials – the available
ones are old, in many of the institutions the children learn from several textbooks, and this
makes their preparation for school difficult. In most cases, the local schools and sponsors
provide the necessary means for textbooks and notebooks.
1.2. Quality of life
According to the directors and staff at the institutions, all children have general practitioners
situated at the settlement. Most institutions have medical consulting rooms at their disposal,
which stay locked. Medical workers are appointed, normally on part-time basis – a medical
nurse or paramedic, who keep the medical documentation up to date, along with the general
practitioners. There are no children without personal outpatient’s cards. The health care plans
are an integral part of the care plan. Prophylaxis and immunizations are carried out regularly
according to a timetable – twice a year.
“There is no specially designated medical consulting room at the institution. The health record cards, the
outpatient’s cards and any other documents related to the children’s health are stored in their personal files.
The children are registered with Dr. Tochkov who has a practice in the village of Lesichovo. According to the
institution’s director and the deputy mayor of Lesichovo municipality, whenever Dr. Tochkov is absent, a
medical nurse from the village is in charge for the children round-the-clock. The director shared that Emergency
Medical Aid is notified if the child’s condition is extremely urgent and alarming.”
Quotation from an institution chart
“According to the Director’s words, at the institution there is an equipped medical cabinet and a consulting
room maintained by a medical nurse appointed on full-time basis. The general practitioner with practice in the
town of Panagyurishte services the children as a whole. According to the director, the medical person servicing
the institution duly keeps the medical record books, the outpatient’s cards and health files. However, during our
visit the medical nurse, appointed in principle on full-time basis, was not there, the medical consulting room was
locked and the access to it was impossible.”
Quotation from an institution chart
“General practitioner, prophylaxis examinations, health care plan, personal outpatient’s cards, health file, etc.
The children at the institution have a general practitioner who implements prophylaxis, diagnostics and
therapeutic activities. If necessary, consultations with specialists are performed. At the institution, there is a
medical consulting room with an equipped medical cabinet, where a medical nurse is working on full-time basis.
She implements the prescribed therapy, keeps up to date the medical documentation and the personal
outpatient’s cards of the children. The menus prepared by the medical nurse are approved by the director and
meet the requirements for proper nutrition of the children.”
Quotation from an institution chart
The institution directors assess the quality of food as very good and excellent. They assure
also that, in terms of quantity, the food is sufficient, diverse and healthy. They claim that the
food is cooked according to a special recipe book. The study data show that children in almost
half of the institutions have meals just 3 times a day, and in the other half – 4 times, with a
snack in the afternoon. The institutions for children aged from 3 to 7 provide a morning
snack, and the children from 1st to 4th grade get also a snack at the school under the “Snack
and hot milk for every child” programme of the social ministry.
“Here they feed us four times. In the afternoon they give us slices of bread with spread pate, chocolate, and in
school we are given one extra snack with milk, that makes 5 times.”
“The children (from 3 to 7) get food 5 times a day – breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and
dinner. The food’s quality is very good, sufficient in quantity and appropriate for the age of the children, the
menu includes a variety of meals, there is at least one meal with meat every day. The food is cooked according to
a recipe book, bread is enough. The menu includes fresh fruit and garnishes, stewed vegetables and legumes.
The institution has regular supply of meat products – donations from Bulgarian producers and powder milk from
Quotation from an institution chart
“The children have meals three times a day. In the morning, they get packed snacks. At lunch and dinner
children are provided with hot meals appropriate for their age.”
Quotation from an institution chart
However, according to the children, especially the adolescents in puberty, the quantity of food
is not enough to meet their daily needs. Extra food is not provided. The weight in grams is not
matched to the age – children aged 10 and 18 receive the same quantity of food.
Do you get enough food?
“No. It is not enough for the youngsters, let alone for me! They give us 200 grams of soup and they weight also
the bowl. Extra is given rarely. There is never extra meat and a nicer meal, even when there is a visit.”
“Not enough. It, this food, I mean, is not enough for the little ones, let alone for us. I am hungry. And when I am
hungry, I can not sleep. And ... that’s why the storeroom where the food is kept was broken in several times.
Well, when I am hungry, I talk with the other kids or watch films, not to think about this all the time. I am most
hungry in the evenings and it is not just me. Really, we are hungry like wolves and we make sure we go to bed
and try to sleep.”
16-year old boy
At the institution in Popovo, for instance, lunch of the children includes only two meals –
main course and dessert. In Berkovitsa and at the institutions providing pre-cooked breakfast
in the mornings there is a problem with the delivery – breakfast arrives late and children leave
for school without having breakfast. They stay hungry until late afternoon (normally they
have 6 or 7 classes a day), because they do not have money for a snack. They do not take
lunch earlier than after 3 o’clock, after coming back from school. Half of all 94 interviewed
children aged over 11 responds that they are permanently feeling hungry. 12% of the
interviewed boys in puberty state that they “are dying of hunger” at school at the time
between breakfast and lunch. Figure 1 presents the responses of children who have confirmed
that they “experience hunger” (50% of the interviewed) and shows the period in which they
feel most hungry.
Figure 1: At what time of the day do you feel hungry most often?
Various times of the
The data from interviews conducted with the children who share that they starve indicate that
52% of them experience hunger regularly, usually in the evening, few hours after dinner.
These are mainly boys in puberty. In most of the days, especially for dinner the meals are
undiversified and meatless – mainly beans, lentils, peas or potatoes, although all institution
directors state that the food is appropriate for the children’s age, cooking is done according to
a recipe book which specifies the weight and technology of preparing food. The study data
show clearly that there is a common practice of cutting down the food quantity; the menu
depends on the quantity and quality of the supplied foods, majority of which are donations,
according to the directors. Moreover, according to the institution directors and staff, the
figures given by the National Recipe Book issued and approved by the Ministry of Health are
strongly underestimated. A controlling authority for its observance is the Hygiene and
Epidemiology Inspectorate on whose territory is the institution. The recipe book is directly
related to the nutrition day and, respectively, to the budget costs per child placed in a
specialized institution. Again, according to the directors, the food quantity is sufficient for the
little children, but for the older ones it is definitely not enough.
Question: Does it happen so that the children are starving, in your opinion?
Answer: It has happened, but in the sense that the food provided at the institution is not enough for the children
because of the established standards for the quantity of food provided to each child. In my opinion, these
standards for the quantity of food for each child with specific weight in grams must be changed … Meat is
present in the menu every day. However, I must underline here that our food is with a given norm because every
month, in my capacity of director, I sent a report to the Regional Inspectorate for Protection and Control of the
Public Health. Based on that report they sent us back directions as to which of the foods has to be reduced and
which has to be increased in the menu.
Director of a child welfare institution
The quantity of bread is usually sufficient. At the same time, some of the children define the
food at the institutions as good and diverse, but fish, dairy products, fresh vegetables and
fruits are offered rarely. Meat is cooked at least twice a week, and in some places even more
often, depending on what kind of donations from food producers, companies and sponsors
have been received.
“Once or twice a week we eat meat, otherwise ... beans, lentils, peas, French beans, rice, 5 in 1, some kind of
“Slavic hotchpotch”, as they call it. As afternoon snack we are given a slice of bread with spread chocolate,
pate, flat honey loafs, corn sticks, waffles, they used to give tea and boza, but they do not give them anymore.”
“The food is not very good. There are no products for diversified meals. Most often we eat cabbage, rice and
potatoes. When someone comes to visit the home, we are given meat and kebapches. I am not happy with the
food. Last two nights we had cabbage with rice. Can a man eat only that? And the cooks do not make any efforts
to cook well. When they know it is for the home, they sometimes do not even cut the vegetables in the meal. On
couple of occasions we seized them by the throat, but otherwise we are friends with them.”
16-year old boy
Older children participate in the cleaning of dining rooms, according to a timetable. The state
of dining rooms and kitchens at the institutions is satisfactory. Considering that these are
some of the most frequently examined places when there are visits of external people at the
institutions, usually many efforts have been put in repairs and establishment of appropriate
conditions there. Usually the rooms are clean and spacious, with enough tables and chairs. It
is not rare any more to see that tables are covered with clean and ironed tablecloths; there are
even paper serviettes, spice sets and cutlery.
“Each group has its own dining set (kitchenette). We have the meals in it, but the food is prepared downstairs in
the big kitchen and we bring it upstairs. The kitchenette is divided into two parts. One is the dining section, and
in the other there is a cooker, washing machine, washbasin and cabinets. The cooker is used with permission
given by an educator. We often like to make pancakes and we use it. The kitchen utensils set is locked to prevent
any theft – visitors are also coming here. The key is with the educator. The hygiene at the kitchenette is very
good. Anyone who uses it is obligated to clean it afterwards. We take turns on duty and the kid on duty is
responsible for the hygiene of the room. Aunties are cleaning too. The furniture in our kitchenette is not new but
at the reintegration centre is new.”
Unfortunately, the poor management and lack of control of the hygiene in some institutions
give rise to the following reactions of children:
“Well, so far the canteen is OK, except that the cook smokes inside and not all the cooks put bonnets on;
sometimes we find hairs in the meals. We have persons on duty who chlorinate the tables, put the tablecloths,
arrange the chairs and sweep the floor. Except for the fact that spoons and bowls are not properly washed up,
there is grease and food remains, generally speaking ...”
“I do not like the canteen. You eat and a rat passes by! The chairs have food stains, it makes you sick to sit.
Sometimes the dishes have food remains, if the children have done them. Aunties wash them only in the morning,
as far as I know. I always wash my spoon before eating with it.”
1.2.3. Leisure time, entertainment activities and personal money
Except for the nutrition, another key factor conductive to the healthy lifestyle is the possibility
for physical activity and expression. Availability of various sports facilities and equipment –
sports grounds, playgrounds, balls, bikes and fitness equipment – in many locations implies
organization of active sport activities. Psychomotor rooms are equipped in the locations
where there are children with sensor-motor disabilities. In addition to the sport activities, in
their leisure time the children attend clubs by interests, study groups, they play music and
sing, watch TV, do their homework or visit families in the settlement.
“In the free time I help the kids at the kindergarten, or I help in the garden at the yard, we have planted tomatoes,
cucumbers and I water them, potatoes ... I study in the free time, read, draw, write. We go downtown with the
Miss, we go to swings, slides. In the weekends, I go to visit a man who painted our canteen, I go to see his family.
They teach me to cook there – I make salads, the mother of this man teaches me, his grandmother teaches me to
sew, teaches me songs, poems.”
“The children are at school till noon and in the afternoon from 14:00 to 17:00 o’clock they go to a study group.
There are many extracurricular activities for the free time of the children. The institution has won a project for
“Care” kitchen and already works. This is implemented in another nearby auxiliary building, where the children
cook themselves in their free time, perform self-service activities and learn social skills. The children from the
institution participate in the preparation of a “Step forward” newspaper, which they publish themselves – they
seek assistance of sponsors and issue it every month. There is also “Our faith” club – a club where children join
voluntarily to learn the “Faith, values and traditions of Bulgaria”. The children participate in “Music group”.
They have another successful project – “School for smiles” – for children leaving institutions – for their easier
socialization. The children shared that they go out for a walk at the centre, watch TV and play computer
Quotation from an institution chart
However, the lack of sufficient pocket money (3 BGN per child per month!?!) urges some of
the older boys to work.
“In the afternoon I go to work, in the village we work, we go and clean up hen-coops and people give us money.
Sometimes I play computer games, read newspapers.”
“Like all children, our children too need everything; these are funny 3 leva pocket money – not enough for
anything. I have big girls who need a deodorant, nail polish, make-up, they have no means to buy, and this is
probably the reason for them to “look outside as well”, unfortunately. ....... We want to have a little farm with
animals, because the children are in the village, they love to look after animals, even the village people call them
for help, and that is why I wish that they can be involved in work activities here at the home.
Stefan is 14-year old boy, from Bourgas, he has no parents, relatives, brothers and sisters. He has no one. He
likes to work, as he says himself, he is happy that people in the village respect him for being hard-working,
besides, the money they give him are not meaningless. It is not just him working, but other boys are working too.
Yes, he is only 14, but he is proud of being able to buy things with earnings. He is not quite studious, obviously
he will not make a career with education, in just a few years the labour skills he is developing now will be of
critical importance for him when he will have to leave the home, he has no one to go to and will have to look
1.2.4. Personal documentation and connections with the child protection system
All children from the institutions included in the study have personal files and care plans. It is
a fact, however, that most of the children have not seen their care plans, which means that
they have not participated in their elaboration. Moreover, the study data show that the plans
are merely formal; there are similarities in the contents of the so-called individual care plans.
Figure 2 shows the number of interviewed children who have seen their care plans.
“The care plans are updated every three months. The CPDs have an action plan, on the basis of which is
drawn up the care plan, jointly with the CPD specialists, a medical person, the child and the group educator,
along with children’s parents and kinship. The plan contains a social assessment, order for placement, court
resolution, birth certificate, certain personal documents of the child, information about the parents,
photographs of the child, etc.”
“Every child has seen its personal file, but the care plan .... don’t know. What is this?”
“I don’t know what a care plan is. I signed under a document in the file, but I don’t know what kind of
document is that.”
Figure 2: Have you seen your file and care plan?
60 49 Yes, I have
40 No I haven’t
A fact of concern is that even when visiting the institutions, the social workers from the CPDs
do not communicate and do not work with the children. Most often, they talk with the staff
about problems that may have occurred. Figure 3 visualizes how often do the children see
social workers from the CPDs visiting the institutions – almost half of them, or 48% of the
children, have not seen them for a long time or have not seen them at all.
Figure 3: Has a social worker from the CPD come recently?
16% Yes, this month
Have not seen him/her
for a long time
32% I have never seen
Having in mind the study data in relation to the care plans, one may say in general that the
work of the social workers from the CPDs is not satisfactory. A purpose-oriented investment
in the human resources is in this field, along with a systematic and sustainable building of
The children are not prevented from maintaining contacts with their kinship and visit them
whenever possible, usually on public holidays. Nevertheless, according to what they say, they
come back to the institution much earlier than the given deadline. They feel strangers and
unneeded in their families. Many of the children do not know their birth parents at all, and
those who know them, usually talk about them with undisguised hatred. The lack of purpose-
oriented work with the families aggravates further the institutionalization, puts the children in
dependence on the institution and the service it provides.
“I have not seen my parents for a long time, my mother and father are divorced, they have other children too,
usually I go to them, but I quickly return, I feel like intruder ......, I don’t want to see them, they treat me cold,
feel guilty ....”
Vast majority of the institutionalized children (49%) rarely see and communicate with their
parents because the institution is located hundreds of kilometres away from their place of
birth. If these children are placed in institutions within the same municipality, or even the
same district, this will save a lot of money for travelling of parents and children and would
help not to break the connection with the family. Last, but not least, this would facilitate
continuous and purpose-oriented work with the families.
The data in the table below show what is the number of children placed in municipalities and
districts away from their birthplace.
Description Number of %
Number of children placed in an institution situated within the 2037 47%
municipality of their place of residence
Number of children placed in an institution situated within the district 1727 40%
of their place of residence
Number of children placed in an institution situated within 376 9%
municipalities adjacent to their place of residence
Number of children placed in an institution situated within districts 190 4%
remote from their place of residence
TOTAL 4330 100%
Total number of visited institutions 80 80
The data show that there is a preference for placement of children from the municipality
where the institution is situated, or from the same district, which is a precondition facilitating
the success of the decentralization. Nevertheless, almost 600 children, or 13% of the total
number of institutionalized children are from other districts, which in any case has a negative
impact on the quality of care provided to them, on the opportunities for contact with the
families and for their future social integration.
1.2.5. Violence at the institutions
In many locations, the school authorities do not work towards integration of the children from
institutions with the other children going to the same school. The children from institutions
share that other children avoid them and do not even say hello. Assault between the two
groups of children is not rare. Apart from the traditionally high level of violence at school, the
number of incidents of violence of older over younger children at the institutions is also
alarmingly high. Most often, it is in the form of slaps in the face, kicks and insults. There are
cases of reported violence committed by educators – hitting children on the head with keys
and registers, kicking and beating the children. One gets the impression that violence is the
basic means of communication.
“There is violence between some of the children at the home, for sure. Boby, he is big, isn’t he, and between him
and Hristo there is enmity. Hristo beats other children and forces them to beg at the street. There were two girls
who were prostitutes, but they left the home. Every night they were driven back with different cars. The director
knows about this, but is too good-natured and she cannot be strict. Else, the educators trail the coats of the little
children, they do not dare doing this to the bigger ones. They hit them with slaps in the face and kicks sometimes
when they don’t listen.”
16-year old child
Figure 4 shows the results of interviewing the children in connection with expressions of
violence at the institutions.
Figure 4: In your opinion, is there violence at the institution?
If yes, who is the perpetrator?
Yes, there is
No, there isn't
In the course of the study related to the children the team has conducted the interviews having
in mind mainly physical violence or threat of physical mob law. Data about other types of
violence such as sexual, mental violence and neglect at the institutions have not been
gathered, because they require much more specialized methodology and specific training of
the team, which is not subject to this study.
“Well, I recently had a quarrel with an educator. We both fetched a blow to each other and that’s it .... We
quarrelled without any particular reason! Well, then sometimes they don’t pay any attention to us, don’t treat
us like humans ....”
“Serious violence, no. Children fight with other children sometimes. Bigger ones fight with younger ones,
they fight most when there is stealing, it is always known who has stolen what. Educators have never hit me.
It is rather that children jump forward against the teachers, we had a case – a 15-year old girl jumped
forward with a knife against a teacher, then she was kicked out.”
“Yes, there is violence. We fight among each other, the children from the home. The staff beat the little ones.
We steal from each other and most often that’s the reason for the fighting. The little one beg in the centre of
the town and around the church.”
The reform of the child welfare institutions will affect most visibly and quickly the
improvement of infrastructure and the quality of children’s life. These in particular are the
main advantages of the transfer of institutions’ subordination to the municipalities, as per the
points of view of the local authority representatives. Furthermore, for sure, the presence of
such an institution on the territory of a given municipality will trigger reorganization of the
municipal structures implementing the social policy. The need for setting up a local
specialized unit to establish and develop new social services not only at the child welfare
institutions, but also in all other social institutions, implies professionalism and purpose-
oriented building of capacity of the human resources.
The main issue is how the attitude to the institutionalized children will change, how the
methodology of work will change, how the paradox situation of having educational specialists
instead of professionals in the field of care provision, such as social workers, working at the
child welfare institutions) will change.
1.3. Reform through the perspective of institution directors and staff
Less than half of the interviewed directors and staff members perceive the transfer of
institutions to municipal management as a necessary, expected and timely measure, from the
point of view of the financing and management of the institutions. The permanent need of
repairs and maintenance of the building stock is the sole reason for them to see the new
processes as something good. The personal acquaintanceship with the mayor’s administration
and local specialists from the CPDs are to some extent a positive motivation to go for the
By no means, however, is the manner of implementation of the change perceived with
approval. The lack of information, lack of commitment of the central government towards
taking responsibility for preparing and notifying the institutions about the change has a
negative impact on the way its is perceived (see Figure 5).
Figure 5: In your opinion, should the institutions be managed
by the municipalities or should the situation remain
Local Central Don’t No
level level know response
Furthermore, the obtained results may be regarded socially desirable, having in mind that the
institutions have already been transferred to the municipalities and they need to adjust to and
accommodate for the new realities. The data show that more than half of the interviewed
respondents practically do not express support to the decentralization. Data below indicate
that so far the reform has not answered a number of questions concerning the future
functioning of the institutions. The unclear legislative framework in respect of the staffing
numbers, the work under continuous stress, the lack of information, the need of retraining in
the social field, the serious cutback of the income and cancellation of previously received
bonuses and privileges for the staff as teachers, generates tension and uncertainty among the
employees at the institutions.
“Our greatest problem is the risk of turnover of administrative and service staff. If the salaries are reduced,
many colleagues will resign. Nothing is done for the service and administrative staff. Here the work is much
stressful; the regime is very burdensome both for the administrative and for the service staff. A cleaner gets 180
BGN, and this person cleans the children, scabies, lice, what not, washing, cleaning, dressing, these money are
humiliation. The poor pay of administrative and service staff is dramatic: three wonderful colleagues resigned
and we are not able to find qualified specialists for three months now. Imagine what are the 180 BGN, here
there is no unemployment, how can we retain these people? We work without any security guards. The children
are difficult, some are aggressive, you can not rein them in, an emergency happens – for instance appendicitis,
the educator is alone at night, he has no one to leave the children with for the night. The institution director is at
In some institutions uncertainty in respect of who the new principal will be lasted for two or
three months after promulgation of the act in the State Gazette. For majority of them this
vacuum has occurred in relation to the financing too (see Figure 6).
Figure 6: In your opinion, what is the most serious
problem at the institution?
0 10 20 30 40
Another major concern of the institution managers is that if they are not employers of the staff
any more, the efficiency of its management will deteriorate. At present, each request for a
leave or urgent substitution of a staff member needs to be referred to the mayor of the
municipality and one should bear in mind that most of the institutions are situated in remote
suburban areas of the towns or outside the town – not everywhere there are good transport
connections. Adding to that the fact that administrative procedures are quite bureaucratic, and
the municipalities are still not aware of the specificities of management of the institutions, the
delay in making such a decision is inevitable.
The first negative effects of the change in relation to the privileges of the staff are already
there – cancelled were the bonuses on the occasion of 24th of May for the pedagogues and
funds for summer sea camps for the children are not included in the new budgets any more.
“The staff must get higher pay. They cancelled their percentage for work with difficult children. I am afraid of
massive lack of interest on the part of young colleagues, because the salaries are reduced. There is no clarity as
to the staffing numbers – whether it will take into account the number of children per group. At present 20
educators take care of 103 children and auxiliary staff is 12 people.”
“After transferring the institutions to the municipalities a temporary problem occurred with the financing of the
institution. There are concerns among the staff that after transformation of the “Educator” job position into
“Social worker” position the salaries will be reduced, the leaves will be cut down and the motivation will
deteriorate. There are certain expectations for high staff turnover rates.”
“The rumours about decentralization of the RCHCDPCs affect the children too. The unclear future of the home
gives rise to thoughts such as: “What will happen to us if they close the institution?”, “Will I be moved again
somewhere else?”, “I will be happy to go home, but there will not be any money for me – we are five kids.”
Quotation from an institution chart
The common opinion of the educators is that in the future, their work will remain the same in
nature, but will increase dramatically in terms of volume, the control on the part of the local
authorities will be much more tactile and, at the same time, they will get much lower salaries.
The staff has no understanding about the objectives of decentralization as basis for start-up of
the deinstitutionalization process, the need for a new type of social institutions for children
and for provision of a brand new type of services in terms of quality (see Figure 7).
Figure 7: If you have to make a reform at your institution,
what would you do?
To provide social
8% services to more
5% children from the
To keep it as a
boarding house, but a
34% Nothing needs to be
I have no opinion
In general, the criticism on behalf of the institutions’ management in respect of the present
situation is that at the municipalities there are no established structures and units clear about
the work and problems at the institutions, the system is not properly coordinated, and that the
social policy is not among the priorities in the work of the municipal administrations. What is
more, the institutions are also not clear with the plans of the municipalities and their
intentions in relation to the development of services at the institutions (see Figure 8).
Figure 8: What does the municipality intend to do with this
Keep it as it was
38% 22% Make it capable of
providing new social
Intends to close it
2% 38% It is still not known
Most of the “specialists” at the municipal administrations are not prepared for the change too.
Normally, they are in charge of coupe of other lines of operation at the municipality, they do
not have the necessary powers and initiative and usually follow the events. In most locations,
the municipalities delegate freedom of action to the directors because they are the ones with
experience. The mayors and specialists are just providing their consent for the things to
happen and are only focusing on the repair activities. In this connection, one may expect that
in the future the directors will propose such kind of social services that does not call for a
qualitative change in the status quo and will hardly ever be adequate to the local needs.
To the question: “In your opinion, what additional social services may be developed at the
institution?” directors answer by listing all social services they know about, without
consideration as to whether there is a true need for them, i.e. the lack of up-to-date and
professionally prepared assessment of the needs of the children at the municipalities is quite
The next, perhaps the most important problem is the new status of the institutions and the
resulting need of retraining of the pedagogues into social workers. Majority of the pedagogues
think that learning process was present at the institutions in the form of study groups.
However, according to the experts in the educational field, the study group format is not a
learning process, but rather a preparation or self-preparation of the child for school.
“Based on my practice I can tell you that no matter what problems we had here – the machine was greased and
working. Until now, while we were under MES – we received our methodological guidelines. I don’t know how
will we be under the municipality, but I want to raise another question – No matter whether we are under
municipality or affiliated to MES, I don’t want the MLSP “hat”. We become a service provider ..., but
eventually the educational component as function of the institution is ignored. If a child lives at the home, we
feed him/her, we dress him/her up, take care of him/her ... and if at the end he/she does not get an educational
diploma ... why then is this child staying at the home?! Going to school and gaining an education is not
encouraged anywhere. That is why I insist that we stay under the ruling of MES, no matter that we were
transferred to municipal subordination.”
It is interesting to see what is the understanding of the educational component, who so far
has been preventing the institutions “to pay attention to the education” and who should pay
this attention? Perhaps it is good to ask the institutions’ staff the question for what did they
get money and privileges as pedagogues, if as a result we have a prevailing share of children
from institutions with serious problems at school, with high dropout risk. It seems,
eventually, that the institutions, through the eyes of the staff, are perceived as schools
(even in the language of the specialists the homes are more often referred to as schools,
rather than as institutions). It is also important to see their place and role as
establishments for provision of care, as places, which substitute the parents and the
family, rather than as units complementing the school. Apparently, this change is not
understood and perceived by the staff as a necessity – they are not willing to become social
workers and do not want to be under the “umbrella of the MLSP”.
Obviously, one may not expect that people will work intuitively. It is necessary to
undertake a large-scale dissemination campaign and give clarifications as regards the
purposes of the reform, the new types of social services for children, the new role of the
staff at the institutions. People want to have transparent rules of work, legislative
framework. They want to be clear about the staffing numbers, coordination and
interactions with the municipality and its units, who will make decisions and how,
because at present the system is blocked and this affects the quality of care provided to
the institutionalized children.
CHAPTER TWO: Analysis of the capacity of the local
In January 2007 with a decision at the Stare Gazette from 22 December 2007, issue 105, the
HCDPCs were decentralized. The management of the institutions is transferred from MES to
the local authorities, with methodological guidance provided by the MLSP. What is more, the
status of these institutions changes from educational into social.
2.1. Approach in the process of decentralization
The transfer of all institutions, including the HCDPCs, under uniform methodological
management and their decentralization at local level was subject of discussion as early as at
the start of reforms of the child welfare-related policies. In a way, everybody expected this to
happen, but in the course of years there was no political will to bring this into reality. The
specialists at local level were informed too about this type of debates, but this was not done in
a structured and purpose-oriented manner.
Generally, decentralization of the HCDPCs is approved by an impressive part of the mayors
and local experts, because the problems at these institutions could be seen better at local level
and responded to in due time. What is more, these institutions are increasingly regarded as an
integral part of the local social policy development and the decentralization process is
perceived quite normally and logically.
“More than one year ago a statement of opinion of the municipality was requested, in general terms, as to how
would we react if the Home moves under our management. We supported the idea, because we believe this will
result in improvement of the care provided to the children, the control would be more effective. Yet, we expected
that in the course several months prior to that meetings would be held, people trained in order to ensure that we
have the capacity to handle this activity. Especially, as the Regulation assigns great responsibilities to the
“Social Assistance” Directorates, which, after conducting discussions with them, turned out short of the
necessary preparation, have not passed through the relevant training and do not have the appropriate
Although all interviewed mayors and municipal specialists respond that the change was
expected, everybody thought this will happen gradually and smoothly. No one expected that
MES will proceed so chaotically, spontaneously and without prior preparation and
information in the direction of local authorities. Still present are the unfavourable
circumstances associated with the lack of adequate information and legislative framework, in
particular with regard to the staffing numbers, new job positions, responsibilities and
obligations at these institutions, this being a critical moment in the process of improving the
care for the children, development and provision of social services for children of brand new
quality. The absence of clear instructions reduces the staff motivation and leaves them with
the impression that there will not be any substantial change in the status quo.
“I understood about the change after the amendment to the Public Education Act was published in the State
Gazette, prior to that there were no letters and for me this was absolutely indecorous. First, I think that MES has
not complied with the requirement of the Labour Code concerning two-month prior notice to people and to
administrations about this thing, the second problem which comes up is that even till today 27 April 2007 there
are no instructions in writing to give somewhat better clarity on this matter.
As of May 2007 all unsettled obligations are liquidated, provided is the financial coverage for
the running of the institutions till the end of the calendar year, but the mayors and directors
are clear that update of the budget will be necessary for many of the institutions.
“The Home has at its disposition a planned subsidy according to the number of children in December – 36. The
capacity of the institution is for 56 children, nowadays we work with 56 children with a budget for 36, the budget
is updated once a year, i.e. the budget updating system has to be more flexible. If I had the money for the rest of
the children at my disposition, I could employ extra staff.”
Director of an institution
After transferring the institutions to their subordination, the approach of municipal experts has
practically been the same everywhere – series of meetings with the institution managements,
elaboration of a joint “stabilization programme” in order to minimize the perturbations, and
focusing on the most pressing repair activities and improvement of the institutions’
infrastructure. This approach indicates that presently the thinking is focused primarily on
improving the infrastructure at the institutions, on the staff, rather than on how to reduce the
number of children at the institutions and elaborate a mechanism for restructuring and
transforming the services from institutional services into services for the community.
2.2. Idea of the local authorities about the employees at the institutions
One of the most commonly encountered opinions of the local administrations about the staff
at the institutions is positive. In their opinion, these are employees with long-term experience,
yet “trainings are not redundant”. The other opinion is that it is necessary to focus on
attracting new type of specialists to these institutions, such as psychologists, social workers,
medical specialists, rehabilitators, speech therapists, deficiency specialists, etc. The opinion of
municipal officials that there is a need for retraining and gaining new knowledge and skills
for work with children is indisputable. The pedagogues at the institutions support this
standpoint too (see Figure 9). However, training opportunities should be made available not
just to the staff at the institutions, but also to the local authority specialists responsible for the
social institutions and services for children and families.
“Yes, soon on 3 and 4 May in Koprivshtitsa there will be such training. This is our first training that we will
attend, at least from what I know. These trainings will be of great value to us, because they focus on the social
services and we have a lot more to learn in this field. This is a best practice both for us and for the teams at the
“In my opinion, the preparation of staff is not sufficient for deinstitutionalization. Whenever a new goal is set,
people must be pre-selected, rather than needing to adjust to the situation. Pedagogues make use of a
pedagogical approach, but this is not the important point and the necessity if the children have to be taken out
of the institutions. The problems these children have are social and they (pedagogues, educators) have
difficulties in handling them. They are not able to recognize the specific need – for instance, in the case of
neglect. These people may be good in their profession, but in the case of institutionalized children, the needs
have a social aspect. It may be possible to upgrade their knowledge and skills with the help of trainings.”
“In my opinion, the qualifications of the staff are not up to the standards. We have to work hard for the
motivation and qualification of the team employed at the institution. At the Home there are still no social
workers. The staff comprises pedagogues who need retraining. At present, they are “neither a crab, nor a fish”.
If we are talking about services and the focus is placed on the social activities, there is no way for people with
another approach, methodology and qualification to perform the specific tasks, identified as needs and
problems with social orientation.”
Figure 9: If it is subordinated to you, what should be done with
Make performance appraisal for the staff
Train the staff
New job positions, not just educators
Some municipal experts expressed an opinion for partial, even full replacement of the staff,
because of the lack of capacity to manage and work at a new type of institution. Perhaps,
these moods are resulting from problems accumulated in the course of many years at these
institutions, which the local authorities have been observing, but were not able to respond to
because of the centralized subordination of the institutions.
“I think that the staff is not completely ready, because they have worked in one way and now a change is
required. At present, there is a competition for directors of the two institutions. This is the procedure, but in my
opinion, one of the directors is not quite on track. Staff retraining is necessary.”
Director of “Social Activities” Directorate in a big municipality
“The main thing we have to do is to renew the staff. We need young people with ideas, potential and
commitment to work and a positive change. This is in my opinion the way to improving the care at the
“Performance appraisal has to be undertaken for the staff in terms of their appropriateness. Because majority
of them refuses to accept the changes, also further trainings for those who remain.”
Expert in healthcare and social activities
“… At present we have institutions forced to operate with personnel prepared to perform another type of
activity. Figuratively speaking, we restructure a shoe-making factory into a handbag factory and we have shoe-
makers instead of handbag-makers. … We have complied with the provision of the Labour Code, people are
with unchanged salaries and employment contacts, they get their top-ups as per the Ordinance for Salaries in
the Educational Sector; according to my understanding, these legislative grounds are not present any more, but
the Code obligates us to grant them. The other serious problem, which occurred, was that the institution director
appeared with 300 days unutilized paid leave. This person is just before retirement and this money has not been
planned for, the good thing is that the Ministry of Finance responded adequately to the situation.”
Municipal administration representative
In general, it is necessary to undertake a gradual replacement of staff and
transformation of the pedagogical approach into a social one, whereas at the same time
this process should be accompanied by retraining and providing the people with
opportunities to upgrade their qualifications.
2.3. The municipalities’ vision in respect of developing social services that will result
in deinstitutionalization of children
The study data show that in any case the process of transformation of the institutions will be
delayed, if there are no coordinated and purpose-oriented efforts for elaboration of plans for
each institution. The municipalities realize the need of being informed and knowledgeable
about the social service for children, and of a new vision in respect of the opportunities for
offering alternative social services in the community. One of the proposals is relative to the
pending need of establishing “management units” at the local administrations, to be
responsible, directly and specifically, for the management of social services, including those
“I have made a request, as support, for increasing the structure of the municipal administration. It is necessary
to have at least two municipal officials in charge for the Home.”
The deinstitutionalization is understood as a term and as a state policy, but there is no
understanding as to how this process will be implemented in practice. There are no clear ideas
in respect of the institution’s future development (see Figure 10). What is more, data show
that local authorities are not aware of the consequences in the cases of long-term
institutionalization. Therefore, it is difficult to say to what extent and how quickly will the
local authorities manage to limit these negative consequences on the children and meet their
Figure 10: If you have to make a reform at your institution,
what would you do?
50 To provide social
services ro more
children from the
40 Keep it as a
but a modern one
I have no opinion
“I can still not give specific ideas relative to this reform. So far, apart from the running costs of the Home,
other problems and proposals for its future development have not been discussed.”
“Development, as far as we can. At this stage we can not offer other social services. I don’t know. We think to
support and help anyway we can …”
“I have reservations in respect of the foster care. For me this is some kind of punishment for the child. No one
asks the question what happens with the mind of this child after being transferred from one family to another
and what family model would the child develop for himself/herself, after moving around to so much different
places and not knowing how to call who. For me this is quite confusing and I don’t think this is the way to help
the child and avoid him/her being in an institution. I am not saying that the child is better at the institution, but
this is not help – moving the child from one foster family into another and mixing everything up for it, whereas
at the institution at least it sees the same faces and knows that it belongs somewhere. The best place for a child
is, of course, in its family. Not even kinship, but its birth family. Simply, here in Bulgaria western models are
transferred, but without adjusting and tailoring them to our conditions, out realities, our mentality, our values.
That is why I think that the attitude towards foster care will not change. I agree much more with the idea for
adoption, because in this case, the family is place, it is permanent, and the child feels protected and loved,
knows how to call the people who look after it. Also, a day care centre for children may be set up on the
territory of the existing institution.”
About 43% of the experts at the local administrations are not aware of the SACP assessment
in respect of the institutions in their municipalities (see Figure 11). About 49% respond that
they offer social services for children and families, but, in fact, the qualitative study data
indicate that understanding of the social service is quite limited, incomplete and unclear. This
comes to prove that there are still municipalities where there is a deficit of qualified staff
capable of meeting the new needs relative to the changing status quo and making a correct
assessment of the services offered at the municipalities.
“Here the social services are social patronage, a Home for old-aged people is under construction. We do not
have a lot of experience in developing social services at the Municipality. However, we are willing to respond
adequately to the needs of the population. At our Municipality there is a practice of granting one-off benefits
according to the Regulation.”
Question: What other social services do you have in your municipality?
Answer: “... In some of the Homes there is not even a TV set. People are much deprived in terms of social
contacts and communication with other people. If we make day centres for these people (the old-aged), they
may go there and exchange information, read a newspaper, watch TV, talk. We make subscriptions for them for
one newspaper per person, because they can not afford even that. We equip the retirement clubs with TV sets,
tables, chairs … Wednesday is for women, only women go there. On Saturday it works, on Sunday it doesn’t.
Also, other social services are our singing groups. In the villages where there are no chitalishas there is at least
one amateur singing group. We have two Roma ensembles too – they go to various festivals. I think that
conservation of culture and traditions is not the ultimate objective of these groups. In my opinion, this is rather
a form of socialization of these people, because for me it is a great achievement that they already understand
me when I talk to them, that they know where to flush the toilet from, how to get running water from the shower
in the bathroom, etc.”
Figure 11: Are you familiar with the
SACP assessment of your institutions?
50 Yes, I am
No, I am not
I don't know
10 about such
The quantitative and qualitative study data show that about 44% of the municipal specialists
are not aware of and have not participated in the envisaged trainings of the SACP for
elaboration of the institutional projects (see Figure 12).
Figure 12: Are representatives form your municipality
involved in the trainings organized by the SACP at district
I don't know of
22% such trainings
It is necessary to elaborate a clear mechanism for management and policy coordination
between the municipalities and the central agencies, which should accommodate for clear and
transparent policies coordination approaches relative to children institutionalized at HCLPCs.
The fact that most of the local specialists at the municipalities have not been familiarized with
the SACP assessments and the Agency’s recommendations give rise to tension and act as an
obstacle to fulfilment of the objectives of restructuring and deinstitutionalization. The very
assessments of the institutions must serve as basis for planning and implementing the reforms
at the institutions. This will also avoid the risk of worthless reorganizations and changes or
continuous lack of action on the part of the municipalities.
“No, but I will look for it on the Internet. A lot of correspondence is received here every day. It is possible that
we have not received it. I know that such an assessment has been made.”
“No. So far I don’t know how these assessments have been made. Until now we have not had any contacts with
MES in respect of the two institutions situated on the territory of our municipality.”
Chief expert in social activities
“I am not familiar with that. The reason for me not being familiar is that it has neither been provided to me
officially, nor unofficially.”
To the question “Has an assessment of needs of the children in your municipality been
made?”, 42% of the respondents say that such assessment has not been made (see Figure 13).
These data show that majority of the municipalities are neither aware of the needs of the
children in the community, nor of the needs of the institutionalized children. Unawareness
and lack of needs assessment entails the risk of erroneous planning and investment of funds in
activities and services for which there are no needs.
Figure 13: Has an assessment of the needs of the
children in your municipality been made?
Yes No I don't know
The study data show that local authorities either intend to develop, or are already in a process
of launching, alternative social services for children – listed are “Crisis centre”, “Sheltered
home”, “Day centre for disabled children”, etc. Practically, these types of services expand the
spectrum of social services at the community and transform the institutionalized care from
one type into another. The general objective, i.e. reintegration and deinstitutionalization,
remains questionable, when there is no active involvement of the Child Protection
Departments. If the work of the CPDs at the institutions is not strengthened, in no way will
the number of institutionalized children decrease. Another questionable issue are the running
costs3 – they are still based on the number of placed children and not on the number of
children provided with various types of services at the institution.
Most of the interviewed representatives of the local administrations are sceptical and
distrustful in respect of delegating the management to external service providers. They are
most concerned about the use service providers will make of the provided financial resources.
The preferred option is that the municipalities themselves manage the institutions, irrespective
of the fact that they lack vision with regard to their management. Unrealistic perceptions are
observed in respect of the service providers, as well as the common attitude that “the state is
the best manager”.
“… The licensed provider or NGO is always subject to disintegration, concussions, etc., while the municipality
is a government body. Even the most incompetent mayor is ... a government body. He has assistants …”
Director of an institution
“It is still too early to delegate these services, we need time to see how we will manage with these things, at
that, there is no such NGO with such a capacity, to be delegated the provision of this service.”
About 35% of the municipal authority representatives are much more positive in the locations
where best practices in this direction are already present (see Figure 14). The experience of
According to Decision No. 926 from 29 December 2006 of the Ministry of Finance – 3 716 BGN per placed
child aged 7 to 18, and 5 590 BGN for the children aged 3 to 7 at HCLPC.
non-governmental organizations, already existing partnership relations between the
municipality and NGOs are relied upon.
“What we need most are exactly providers of social services who we are in close partnership with. Thus, we
will ensure efficient and adequate care for the children. Let the purely financial issues be tackled at municipal
level, but the quality of care be assigned to the responsibility of organizations with competence and experience
in the field of social services provision.”
Figure 14: What would you prefer in terms of institution
management – managed by the municipality or delegated by
the municipality to a licensed provider of a social service
(NGO, commercial organization, etc.) admissible as per the
60 54 Social Assistance Act?
Д а се управ ляв а от Д а се делегира на Д ържав ата да си го Незнам
общи ната достав чик на у прав ляв а
“In our municipality the social activity is one of the priorities. We already have experience in delegating a
social service to a licensed services provider on project basis. We believe it is much better that social services
are developed by an NGO, but it must have the necessary capacity.”
The data show that it is necessary to develop and implement pilot models of HCDPC
management by external service providers, with a possibility for their follow-up
multiplication. Thus, the non-government sector will contribute to enhancing the professional
qualification and capacity of the local specialists.
“I know that this process is reality in Europe, but my personal opinion is that at this stage it is still early for
such delegation. First, we have to stabilize the institutions, then, we have to look for the right address to
delegate them, because the “concession” is a global practice, but all concessions at this stage in Bulgaria are
failing. In my opinion, the process is in the right direction, but at this stage is still early, perhaps initially it must
be a joint public-private partnership, and only after that delegate 100 percent, but the process is ongoing
already and will become a reality at a given time.”
In general, the municipalities are not prepared for management of the institutions, let alone for
transformation of their services into social services. Needed are purpose-oriented efforts
towards strengthening the local capacity, including series of trainings in management and
restructuring of HCDPCs.
2.4. Review of the legislative framework governing the institutions for children
lacking parental care
This section is prepared by Nadezda Deneva
2.4.1 The change since January 2007
The change in the management of the residential care homes for children lacking parental care
is normatively provided for in the Law on Amendment and Supplementation of the Public
Education Act, issue 105 from December 2006. The change is relative to the following:
1. The status of the institutions – transformed from servicing units with social purpose
within the public education system into specialized institutions for provision of social
services – residential care homes for children, financed as activity delegated by the
state to the municipality on the territory of which they are situated.
2. The management of staff – it is assigned to the mayors of the settlements where the
institutions are located.
3. The legal employment relations with the staff of the institutions – settled on the
grounds of Article 123 of the Labour Code.
4. The assets and liabilities, the rights and obligations of the servicing units – these are
taken over by the relevant specialized institutions.
5. The ownership of the real estates and property consigned for management – it changes
from public state property into public municipal property.
6. The organization of operations of the institutions is envisaged to be governed by a
The transfer of the institutions’ management from MES to the municipalities is in line with
the process of decentralization, which, in respect of the specialized institutions for social
services, is ongoing since 2003. The first stage was implemented with the transformation of
institutions for social services formerly subordinated to the MLSP. The process with the child
welfare institutions goes on in a similar manner.
The management of the entire staff of the institution is entrusted to the mayor of the
municipality. Practically, the institution director cannot implement actual management of staff
of the institution and there is a risk that his/her role will remain merely formal. One possible
solution is the complete or partial delegation of powers. In this case important is the
interpretation of the legal provision, as it is dependent on the attitudes of the municipal
administration towards implementation of a real decentralization of the services. The
To provide maximum managerial and financial freedom of the institution
To centralize the administrative and financial management in various forms –
directorate within the municipal administration, municipal company. The
director plays the role of an executing party.
To assign the management to an external provider.
2.4.3. Employment relations with the institutions’ staff
The provision of Article 123 of the Labour Code requires that the legal employment relations
“The legal employment relation with the worker or clerk is not terminated upon change of the employer.”
Article 123 of the Labour Code
This circumstance generated many difficulties in the course of transformation of the
institutions for social services in 2003 because the staff was retained, in terms of numbers, job
positions and qualifications and this did not bring any effective change in the performance of
the institutions. Another serious obstacle was the staffing number with fixed average wage set
forth in a decision of the Council of Ministers.
At present, a uniform standard of financing is introduced in parallel to the institutions’
restructuring. This standard defines the labour costs in general, without fixing the staffing
numbers and the average wage level. These prerequisites facilitate the process, considering
that the new employer is allowed to set the staffing numbers and to transform the job
positions at his discretion.
Decision No.926 of the Council of Ministers from December 2006 establishes financial
standards for the running costs of the residential care homes for children lacking parental care.
The running costs of the child welfare institutions are defined in the list of institutions in the
education sphere whose running costs are subject to a mixed standard described in
Attachment 3. The specified amount includes both operating and labour costs.
The employer, in this case the mayor of the municipality where the institution is located, is
entitled to determine the staffing numbers at his discretion.
“The mayor of the municipality sets the staffing numbers for the educational activities delegated by the state
within the means defined according to the uniform standards.”
Decision No.926/December 2006.
Comparison of the financial standards for 2006 and 2007
Financial standards for 2006 (Decision No.21 from January 2006)
1. Standards for staffing numbers at the child welfare institutions:
- institutions for children up to the age of 6 – 0.8 per child
- institutions for children over the age of 6 – 0.4 per child
2. Standard or average wage from 01 July 2006 – 340.79 BGN
3. Standard for running costs per place per year – 1 776.60 BGN
Financial standards for 2007 (Decision No.926 from December 2006)
1. Residential care home for children aged from 3 to 6 lacking parental care – 5 590.00
2. Residential care home for children in І-ХІІІ school grade lacking parental care –
3 716.00 BGN
Standards for 2006 RCHCDPC RCHCDPC
up to the age of 6 over the age of 7
Staffing numbers 0.8 0.4
Running costs 1 776.60 BGN
Average wage 340.79 BGN
Standards for 2007 RCHCDPC RCHCDPC
up to the age of 6 over the age of 7
Mixed standard 5 590.00 BGN 3 716.00 BGN
The available information does not enable conclusions as to whether the institutions’
financing has increased or not. The attempts to analyze the financing of a given institution
during the two budget years and make analogy for the others fail too, because in 2006 MES
has not transferred the full subsidy for the running costs of the institutions.
From the comparative table above one may conclude that probably the higher standard for the
child welfare institutions for children up to the age of 6 is due mainly to the fact that they
employ greater number of staff – the staffing numbers standard for these institutions in 2006
is two times higher than for the others.
The salaries of the retained staff at the child welfare institutions are higher than those of their
colleagues at the institutions for social services. This becomes evident by comparing the
standards included in Decision No.21 from 2006:
- Standard for average wage for “Education” sector from 01 July 2006 340.79 BGN
- Standard for average wage for “Social security, support and care” 259.27 BGN
sector from 01 July 2006
The mixed standard gives more freedom to the employers, both in respect of setting new
staffing numbers, and in respect of the wages, but at the same time it entail risks. In the cases
of mixed standards it would be appropriate to fix a minimum figure for the staffing numbers
in order to guarantee the efficient implementation of the activities.
The provider of social services at the specialized childcare institutions has financial interest in
the transformation of services. The comparison of the standards for financing of the services
provided for in Decision No.926 is in favour of the alternative services of “family-type
placement centre” kind.
HCDPCs over the age of 7 3 716.00 BGN FTPC 4 521.90 BGN
HCDPCs 5 590.00 BGN CC 4 251.90 BGN
under the age of 7
CSC 2 127.73 BGN
The financing of the residential care homes for children lacking parental care, being state
delegated activities, implies regular receipt of the envisaged funds and gives an opportunity
for more accurate planning of the subsidy. The funds are earmarked and are provided only for
the needs of the institution. The assumption is that thus the problems associated to delayed
payments and reduced running costs of the institutions will be resolved.
2.4.5. Regulation for organization and operation of the social institutions for
children – State Gazette, issue No.31 from April 2007
The Regulation governs the operation of residential care homes for children lacking parental
care. According to the age of the children, the institutions are subdivided as follows:
- Institutions for children aged from 3 to 7;
- Institutions for children aged from 7 to 18, or until completion of the secondary education,
but not after reaching the age of 20.
There is a clear discrepancy in relation to the children’s age specified in the documents
regulating the financing – decisions of the Council of Ministers.
The Regulation envisages the following possibility:
“At the residential care homes for children lacking parental care the municipalities may develop also social
services as per Article 36, para. 2 of the Implementing Regulations of the Social Assistance Act depending on the
needs of institutionalized children and the needs for community-based social services.”
(Article 6 of the Regulation for organization and operation of the child welfare institutions)
This text makes reference to the Implementing Regulations of the Social Assistance Act
(IRSAA), which governs the mechanisms for setting up social services. The text of Article 6
of the Regulation is inaccurate – according to the currently enforced legislation, community-
based services cannot be developed AT the existing specialized institutions, unless this is
preceded by reduction or closing of the institution. According to Article 36, para. 2 of the
IRSAA, the possibilities for setting up services “at” the institutions are provided for as
- Reducing the capacity of the specialized institution and setting up the relevant service as
per para. 2 (while retaining the staff and infrastructure);
- Closing the specialized institution and setting up the service or services as per para. 2
(while retaining the staff and infrastructure).
In parallel to that the financing standards are transformed too – extra financing, if the new
services are with higher standard, or less financing, if the services are with lower standard.
The services at the institution cannot be transformed only on the grounds of the Regulation
for organization and operation of the child welfare institutions. With regard to this, the
established groups for weekly care and the groups for day care at the institutions on the
grounds of Article 21, para. 2, sub-paragraphs 2 and 3 do not have the status of community-
based services. In the currently enforced legislative framework, correspondent to the weekly
care groups and day care groups described in Article 21, para. 2, sub-paragraphs 2 and 3 are
the activities of the “Day Centre” service:
“Day centre” is a complex of social services which create conditions for comprehensive servicing of the clients
during the day or on weekly basis, relative to provision of food, meeting the daily, health, educational and
rehabilitation needs, as well as the needs of organizing the free time and personal contacts. In the cases where
provision of services is on weekly basis, the clients are serviced from Monday to Friday.
(Additional provision of the IRSAA)
Until establishment of these services at the institutions in accordance with the procedure of
the IRSAA, the children should be placed in the groups for weekly and daily care at the
institution on the grounds of Article 28 of the Implementing Regulations of the Child
Protection Act (IRCPA), rather than pursuant to the procedure of Article 20 of the IRCPA.
The Regulation attempts to maximize the synchronization of activities at the institution with
the provisions of legislative framework relative to the child protection. At the same time, it is
not in conformity with the Implementing Regulation of the Social Assistance Act. After the
change in the status of the institutions – “specialized institutions providing social services”,
all provisions of the IRSAA should be applied. In addition, the regulation is not harmonized
in terms of the basic principles – contractual relations and retribution of the “provider –
client” relations. These principles should be used as regulatory mechanisms, which may
guarantee the real transformation of the child welfare institutions from places for long-term
upbringing of children into temporary care institutions.
CHAPTER THREE: Conclusions and recommendations
This chapter is supplemented with proposals and conclusions derived both from the study
itself, and from the public discussion of the report held on 11 October 2007. More than 60
participants from the country attended the public discussion – representatives of local
authorities, non-government institutions and directors of institutions for children deprived of
parental care. Some of the recommendations and conclusions are not a direct outcome of the
study, but rather result from the discussion of the report and the problems faced by the
1. The study indicates high risk for the implementation of objectives of the reform in
the care for children placed in specialized institutions. This risk is demonstrated by
the lack of any change in the childcare concept and deinstitutionalization process.
1.1. The HCDPCs decentralization is perceived positively by the local authorities and by
almost half of the institutions’ staff. The children are not informed and involved in
this process and for this reason they are not able to express an opinion. The
decentralization of institutions has occurred without any specific prior preparation of
the municipalities and staff at the institutions in respect of the change;
1.2. Among significant part of the municipalities there is lack of understanding about the
meaning of the reform, insufficient information and lack of commitment to take over
the management of specialized institutions. The main concern shared is relative to
improvement of the material conditions of living. The local authorities and the
institutions want the change, but do not have any vision as to how should the
institutions look like and what will their place in the future be. They see the change
primarily as improvement of the living conditions at the institutions. They lack
awareness of the reform’s philosophy, meaning and objectives, and of the
identification of the needs for social services;
1.3. Both the municipalities and the institutions are not clear in respect of the legislative
framework according to which they should work, there are no clear criteria and
standards. According to the municipalities, their major problem is the lack of
opportunity to influence the placements of children at the institutions performed by
CPDs in other municipalities and districts;
1.4. The local authorities do not have sufficient human resources for efficient
management of the institutions.
2. There is no change in the quality of care for children at the HCDPCs and there are
no indications of any intentions for such a change.
2.1. The study data show that 52% of the children experience hunger in the evenings.
These quantitative data were confirmed by the qualitative study too. Receipt of the
full state subsidy is not guaranteed by the state (transferred is 90% of the financial
standard), first, and then, the control for absorption of the whole subsidy according
to its purpose is guaranteed only in the case of the external providers.
2.2. The children of the institutions share that other children avoid them and do not even
say hello, assault incidents between the two groups are not rare too. Apart from the
traditionally high level of violence at school, the level of violence of older over
younger children at the institutions is also alarmingly high.
2.3. The children placed in most of the institutions are not from the local community, but
from remote settlements – 2 293 out of total 4 330 children in 80 visited institutions
are not from the municipality on the territory of which is the institution.
2.4. There is no continuity in the children’s life. From time to time they are transferred
from one institution into another, because the institutions are structured on
educational principle – from 4 to 7 years of age, from 8 to 18 years of age. The
transition is highly traumatizing for the children and in no way it is managed by the
2.5. The violence at the institutions is regarded as inherent. The data indicate presence of
violence acts both in the staff-children relations, and among the children themselves.
2.6. The organization of life at the institutions does not imply development of children’s
life skills and their preparation for independent life.
2.7. The institutions are classified on educational principle and this is a serious obstacle
to improvement of the quality of services for children
2.8. The Ministry of Finance does not transfer 90% of the budget to the institution and
this disturbs the quality of life of the children for one full month in the financial
3. The staff is not prepared and to a great extent demonstrates resistance to
implementation of the reform at the institutions. The expectation and the efforts by
the central state agencies to play the leading role in the reform are unrealistic and
doom the reform to failure.
3.1. The decentralization of institutions has occurred without any specific prior
preparation of the municipalities and staff at the institutions for the change; the
manner in which it has been carried out poses serious problems – the status of staff,
the change in the legal employment relations, the qualification of staff, etc.
3.2. The staff is not qualified to meet the needs of children in a situation of abandonment
and to develop their sense of dignity and self-esteem. The individual work of the so-
called mentors is focused on the children’s educational needs, understood as need of
control of school attendance and carrying out additional learning activities.
3.3. The staff at the institutions does not accept, understand and share the meaning of the
ongoing reform. The employees at the HCDPCs identify themselves as teachers,
they are not competent, and do not think they should be competent to implement the
required change in the quality and attitude towards childcare. The idea to assign the
change, through the institutional projects, to the institutions themselves is not
3.4. The staff and directors do not understand the legislative framework in terms of
staffing numbers, institutional projects, etc.; there is still confusion in relation to
who is actually managing the institutions. Some believe that the institutions have
passed under the authority of the MLSP, and others – under the authority of the
3.5. Present is lack of awareness of the staff, lack of clarity about the new operational
tasks, as well as lack of clarity as to who, when and how will explain to the staff
what exactly does the change comprise.
1. Particular attention should be paid to the quality of life of the children at the
specialized institutions in the following aspects:
1.1. To guarantee that the local authorities, in the face of the municipalities, which play
a key role relative to controlling and guaranteeing the quality of services for
children at the institutions, will be able to perform this role. This may be
accomplished through provision of training and mentoring to the local authorities in
respect of the quality of care for children separated from their family environment.
1.2. To develop indicators suitable for measurement and monitoring the quality of care.
Currently, standards and criteria for quality of care outside family environment exist,
but there are no clear indicators against which to measure the quality, which leads to
high risk of subjectivism when assessing the quality of childcare at the institutions.
1.3. To make assessment of existing standards and design of new standards for nutrition
of institutionalized children. The study of the quality of care at the institutions in
Bulgaria showed that children experience systematic malnutrition and starvation.
This is particularly relevant to the children in the transitional period of adolescence.
It is necessary to introduce nutrition and dining regime that are as close as possible
to the family environment; prepare weekly and daily menu with variant meals to be
chosen by the children; involve the children, depending on their age, in the food
preparation, make them participate partly in purchasing and serving the food, etc.
1.4. To undertake actions for significant reduction of the number of children in big
institutions and change the philosophy of childcare. At this stage the institutions
have retained their former age-specific status (for instance, institutions for babies
aged 0 to 3, for children aged from 3 to 7, for children aged from 7 to 18). Hence,
from time to time the children be transferred from one institution to another and
results in scattered life history of the children. This approach does not guarantee the
best interest of the children, but rather services solely the functional comfort of the
1.5. To fully reorganize the care and work with the institutionalized children. This may
be implemented in several directions:
Guarantee the best interest of the child, rather than organize the daily routine and
regime of children and adolescents for the convenience of the staff;
As much as possible avoid the group division based on class-lesson principle
with large groups of 20-22 children per group; establish, instead, small groups of
5-6 children and create prerequisites for development of processes of group
dynamics; matching the individual needs with group needs and appoint
permanent mentors for each group;
Make sure that grouping of the children in the dormitories is in the interest of the
child and is based on transparent principles – similar or common interests of the
children in one dormitory, reduce the number of children in the dormitories and
arrange for private space for each individual child;
Create preconditions for meaningful utilization of personal time of the children
and adolescents by creating alternatives for the free time, provide flexibility for
the periods when the children should rest and be awake, according to the age,
ensure individualization of the personal time of the children and adolescents.
1.6. Urgent measures should be undertaken in relation to reducing and coping with the
“Violence among institutionalized children” phenomenon, by pursuing purpose-
oriented activities for empowerment of the institutionalized children. This may be
accomplished by: training the bigger children-leaders who have positive influence
on other children in “peers education” programmes, mediation, advocacy;
encouraging the children to report and signalize of violence incidents among
themselves through prevention programmes, role-play approaches, teaching the
children how to report, how to approach institutions; ensure free access to telephone
for the purposes of reporting violence incidents at anytime, undertaking actions for
purpose-oriented work with the children prone to acts of violence against other
1.7. A new standard should be elaborated in relation to the personal money granted to
the institutionalized children. This standard should, on one hand, cover the level of
personal cash, and on the other hand, specify the manner of their spending. The
amount should be tied up with the minimum salary and the age of the children. The
standard for the use of the cash should guarantee development of the children’s
skills for independent life, develop skills for budgeting, shopping, planning
resources, etc. with the help of educators and social workers from the child welfare
1.8. Review the existing best pilot practices and introduce them as a standard. Such
existing practices are: training in life skills at the child welfare institutions
implemented in several pilot municipalities; arrangement for and establishment of
sheltered spaces for children over 16 at the child welfare institutions; day centres,
1.9. Make amendments in the Internal Regulation of the HCDPCs to govern the
guardianship over the children for the period of their institutionalization. At this
stage, in legal terms, the status and powers of the directors are not clear and this
hinders the decision-making relative to the children’s life and health in situations
where emergency surgical interventions, etc. are required.
1.10. Improve the health care for the children by guaranteeing systematic approach and
timeliness of health services provided to the institutionalized children.
1.11. Formulate clear criteria relative to placements of children in institutions situate
away from the place of residence of the child. Such sample criteria may be: 1)
availability of facts and data indicating that placement is in the interest of the child,
that the work towards reintegration of the child and the child’s connections with the
family will not be disturbed, and that remote placement entails minimum risk of
long-term institutionalization of the child; 2) availability of social resources and
services which the child cannot get elsewhere; 3) occurrence of a situation in the
child’s life which requires temporary removal from the family environment and peer
1.12. Create a queer filter for the placements of children in institutions. Such natural filter
may be the creation of legislatively provided requirements to coordinate decisions of
the CPDs for placement of a child in an institution with local partners (municipality,
state and private service providers) and to supply clear-cut evidence that all local
resources and community-based services for protection and prevention of
institutionalization have been exhausted.
2. The local administrations have a critical need for development of their capacity to
understand the meaning of the reform, to manage the change at the specialized
2.1. A large-scale campaign should be implemented to raise the awareness about the
reform’s purposes, the new types of social services for children, the new role of the
staff at the institutions. People want to have transparent rules of work, legislative
framework. They want to be clear about the staffing numbers, coordination and
interactions with the municipality and its units, who will make decisions and how.
At present, the system is blocked and this affects the quality of care provided to the
2.2. A long-term specialized “learning-by-doing” programme for practice training should
be elaborated and delivered for the local administration specialists, institution
directors, representatives of the CPDs and the Agency for Social Assistance with the
- Objectives and philosophy of decentralization;
- Legislative framework;
- Methods of social work;
- Design and provision of social services for children;
- Elaboration and implementation of an assessment of children’s needs,
which will serve as basis for planning the social services for the children
in the municipalities in mid-term perspective;
- Identification of the needs of social services for children;
- Development and application of pilot models for provision of high-quality
social services or children;
- Exchange of experience and best practices, locally and abroad, with child
welfare institutions and local authorities with capacity in management of
2.3. Setting up of departments with specialized expertise should be encouraged in every
municipality where social services for children and families, including child welfare
institutions, are managed and developed. Investments should be made in these units,
in order to build capacity for monitoring, outsourcing and management of a social
service for children and families.
2.4. The Child Protection Departments should become municipal structures to ensure
better interaction with the local authorities in respect of the work for child
abandonment prevention and deinstitutionalization. For this purpose, amendments to
the Child Protection Act need to be adopted and uniform methodological support to
the CPDs for implementation of the state policy for child protection should be
2.5. Each municipality should assess the needs of the children in the municipality and
make analysis of the placements of children at specialized institutions. The
municipalities should “take in” the children placed in other municipalities and
districts and should develop services according to their needs. This will facilitate the
contacts of the children with their parents and kinship.
3. The guiding principle in the course of reform implementation should be the interest
of the children, rather than that of the staff. The staff should not be retained at any
cost – those who are able and willing to stay should develop their professional skills
for working with children in the context of the reform.
3.1. The municipalities should be able to organize a training and re-qualification
programme for the educators in the social work and focusing directly on
deinstitutionalization and work with the children within family environment, in
particular, case work, trainings and activities for independent lifestyle, hygiene,
3.2. The job status and pay of the staff in each institution should be clarified. It is
necessary to differentiate new job positions on the payroll for appointing new type
of specialists, such as social workers and psychologists.
3.3. Monthly supervisions and performance appraisals should be arranged for the staff at