The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP) sent their views on the findings of the Disability Rights International report, which was presented last week, to news website Dnevnik. The Ministry called the findings tendentious, unrepresentative, and aimed at depreciating the Bulgarian deinstitutionalization (DI) process. The MLSP noted that they consider the conclusions drawn about the process of DI in Bulgaria as based on individual cases and representing a generalization. However, the described circumstances have been considered alarming and will be inspected by the Social Assistance Agency. Yet, the MLSP denies the existence of human rights abuses in Bulgarian group homes.
The MLSP emphasizes that an objective analysis of the governmental reform done in 2010 in regards to deinstitutionalization in Bulgaria can only be made when taking into account ‘all legislative and other measures taken, and not drawing conclusions from only a limited range of selected services’. In this case, experts from the American organization, DRI, have visited 18 group homes, 4 accommodation centres and 2 schools.
The MLSP notes that the deinstitutionalization of childcare in Bulgaria is the most extensive reform in the social sphere undertaken so far in the country, and its achievements in this area have been exemplified externally.
The MLSP emphasized the following: We will only point out some facts that prove not only the magnitude of the reform and the results achieved so far, but also that our direction is the right one. We managed to get over 90% of the children accommodated in the specialized institutions out of them as well as to close 116 specialized institutions (over 80% of the existing ones by 2010), including all homes for children with disabilities, and these are only a part of the achievements of the reform. Most importantly, its main focus is not the provision of residential childcare, but that of prevention of abandonment and reintegration into the family an environment.
The MLSP's standpoint concludes that ‘the deinstitutionalisation of childcare in Bulgaria is not yet finished, but as in its beginning and now, it is based entirely on the principles set out in the Common European Guidelines for the transition from institutional care to community-based services’.
You can read the Dnevnik source article (in Bulgarian) for a detailed overview of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy’s views.
Further information on the Disability Rights International report can be found in our article, which summarizes its findings.