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The project "The Voice of Bulgarian Children is Heard by the Policy-Makers" is implemented by the Bulgarian School of Politics "Dimitry Panitza" and is funded by Oak Foundation. It will be carried out from 2016 to 2019.The project is designed to enhance the process of formulating and implementing adequate child policies and to support the introduction of good practices in order to resolve current problems. It focuses on the group of political and civic policy-makers. We want that today's children of Bulgaria can feel safe and secure and that their voice is heard at all level of power.

 

What are some of the problems, we face in Bulgaria, in terms of children's policies?


• Despite the efforts of numerous NGOs, which work to protect the rights of children, part of politicians and decision-makers at national and local level still do not know in depth the problems of children. Often people on governing positions do not know how to protect the rights and the interests of children when making decisions, do not take into account the impact of these policies on children, do not realize the consequences in the long run, that could be caused by short-sighted decisions. The problem lies in the lack of systematic training of the representatives of the legislative, executive and local power in child policies, in retrograde attitudes and stereotypes about relations adult-children, in the difficult access of civil society organizations to decision-makers and the lack of a mechanism for collaboration.

• More and more children in Bulgaria are affected by the process of social stratification, deepening poverty of the population with low education and marginalization of certain groups. Lack of livelihood and high unemployment lead to mass migration, where parents go to work abroad, and the children are cared for by relatives. Many of these children develop behavioral problems and need specialized support, which is missing. 

• Violence toward and between children is a constantly augmenting tendency, without effective mechanisms for prevention and counteraction.

• Another unresolved issue is with the specialized juvenile courts to reduce the risk of psychological trauma on children victims of violence, witnesses or participants in a criminal offense.

• One fifth of Roma children aged between 7 and 15 do not attend school, and 48% of them study in segregated schools and often drop out of the education system. Problems in the Roma community are the early marriages as well.


This situation will not change unless there is a purposeful work with policymakers to enhance their knowledge about the problems and policies for children, to change their attitudes and to build mechanisms for effective interaction between politicians and NGOs.

What do we want to do for children in Bulgaria?


We want to turn the training of political and civic leaders on policies for children into a continuous process and to focus their attention on the possible solutions to existing problems,

We want to create a community of people in leading positions in the legislative, executive and local authorities, who will work with set purpose for the protection of children's rights and to be the engine of change we need in this area,

We want to foster the dialogue between the political and civil society sector on children's problems and to support the non-governmental organisations, working on these issues, to establish closer contacts and effective mechanisms of interaction with politicians on national and local levels,

We want to support the main advocacy activities in the country and the efforts of the civil society sector for the adoption of a new law for the child, the creation of an Ombudsman institution for children, the prevention of violence among children, the reform of the juvenile justice, the promotion of good practices in education and child health.

We want that today's children of Bulgaria can feel safe and secure, and that their voice is heard at all levels of power.

 

How will we succeed?


We will introduce the problems of children as a thematic line in the National Programme "Governing skills". The program and materials will include analyzes of Bulgarian and international NGOs on child policies at local, national and European level.

We will provide additional support for the participation of representatives of civil society organizations, working for the protection of children's rights and on related policies.

In the program of the PSoP for work with alumni we will work in several directions:

Specialized trainings on the children's policies;

Exchanging experience between alumni from different regions of the country;

Club of alumni, who are working in this area;

Dissemination of knowledge among the community of graduates and partners of BSoP.


Putting the children's policies at the forefront of the agenda of people who create and implement public policies in Bulgaria is associated with in-depth information and a more complete understanding of children's problems in the country. Long-term and consistent efforts are needed for raising the level of knowledge in this area, as well as for changing the attitudes of downplaying and solving things in a piecemeal way. The support from OAK in a three-year horizon will enable the BSoP "Dimitry Panitza" to use adequately the gained experience and expertise in the previous work with political and civic leaders, in order to expand the community of people in leading positions, who accept as their own cause the protection of children in Bulgaria and are ready to defend the changes that are needed in this area.

For more about this project, please click here 

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