The state received a satisfactory grade (3)* for foster care development for year 2020
Despite the declared support for foster care in Bulgaria, at the state level there is a lack of comprehensive vision for its future development.
As of 31.12.2020, 2,118 families have been entered in the Register of approved foster families, of which 12 are voluntary and 2,106 are professional. The total number of children placed in foster families as of December 2020 is 1,971.
It is important to note that apart from the declining number of those wishing to become foster parents, there are no placed children in 490 foster families.
The reasons for the lack of placed children in those families are various, but the fondation is the presence of profiles of families that do not meet the needs of children. This raises the question of how foster care is planned, despite the announced regional model of service provision, as a solution to this issue.
The foster care continues to face several major challenges that will determine its long-term development.
Still, the social service is offered solely as a project activity - the project "Accept me 2015" under Operational Programme “Human Resources Development” 2014-2020, bearing the advantage that it is provided as a single social service. However, this project is to finish at the end of 2021.
In 2020, there was no campaign to focus on recruiting candidates for foster parents and expanding the scope of foster care in the country. Despite the obvious need for foster families, "Accept Me 2015" did not fund a campaign and everything remained in the hands of foster care teams - without resources, without institutional support, in a negative media environment.
The specialization of foster care was declared as a goal of the project, but there are still no working measures to encourage foster parents to care for children with disabilities, children victims of violence or trafficking, children in conflict with the law, unaccompanied children, teenagers. There are still not enough foster families in big cities to accommodate babies. The issue of substitute foster care has not been fully resolved. Individual and group supervisions, upgrading trainings, support groups have been expanding their scope.
The developed single financial standard for support of foster families will not enter into force from the beginning of 2021, due to the Social Services Act’s delay of the entry into force and the resulting delays in the processes. This will not allow the Foster Care service to be outsourced to private providers. Although the non-profit organizations contribute with their expertise to the local communities and the Advisory Expert Council of the project. Sofia Municipality, for example, has entered into partnership agreements with three NGOs, which form and manage the District Foster Care Team and upgrade the efforts of the project and the municipality.
The chosen approach to the development of foster care casts doubt on the possibility of enhanced support for the protection measure "accommodation with relatives". The data for children remain almost constant in recent years- as of 30.09.2020 a total of 4,511 children are accommodated with relatives. The problems of this protection measure still remain unaddressed and come into the public spotlight only in the event of a negative media response.
* Satisfactory grade (3) is a poor grade in the Bulgarian educational evaluation system, where 2 is the poorest and 6 is the most excellent. The evaluation is made after tests and oral examinations in the so-called “student’s grade book”, where the relevant grades are filled in.