[Bulgaria] Report Criticizes the Conditions of Bulgarian Group Homes for Children with Disabilities

26 Nov 2019
Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight reported on Disability Rights International's (DRI) critique of the lack of significant change in the ways in which children with disabilities are cared for, despite the recent move towards deinstitutionalisation. According to DRI, the conditions of group homes in Bulgaria still fall short of international law requirements.

Disability Rights International have published a report based on interviews with state and non-state actors, and stakeholders, such as families of affected children, and with a number of the children themselves. The article gives examples from the report, which heavily condemns the conditions in the group homes. It notes that staff generally failed to ensure the development of basic skills, like the use of eating utensils, which seriously affects these children’s chances of successful societal integration after leaving the homes.

The report concludes that the Bulgarian state failed to secure a functioning system of community support, inclusive education or to aid with the transition to independent living for disabled children. This critique points to the need for the Bulgarian state to provide more support for families rather than funding for group homes, especially if the care offered in these group homes is below international standards.

The article also points out that three human rights organisations have filed a lawsuit at the European Court of Justice accusing the European Commission of funding initiatives which lead to a violation of disabled Bulgarian children's rights and to their segregation in society. It also mentioned the 2018 protests by Bulgarian mothers of children with disabilities, which eventually culminated in the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov.

Although this report, written by human rights defenders and not scientific specialists, focuses only on one aspect of the deinstitutionalization process in Bulgaria, it does emphasize the need for increased support for families from the Bulgarian state itself. The importance of keeping children with their families has also been brought up by Marie-Anne Paraskevas (Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusions, EC) and has been mentioned as a positive result brought about by the DI process in Bulgaria during the last 10 years.


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