The project „Strengthening the system for child protection in Bulgaria through building professional capacity in the spheres of social services, education and police protection“ is developed by an initiative of Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation /WCIF/ in partnership with the State Child Protection Agency and “Education” trade union at National Confederation of Labor „Podkrepa“ with starting date 1st of April 2020 and duration of 24 months. The project is co-financed under the program „Rights, equality and citizenship“ of the European Union.

Why this project is important?

Violence against children is a serious problem that many people still underestimate. Often violent behavior against children is justified by social norms when it occurs within the individual family.

Negative childhood experiences are dangerous for the health and well-being of the child. These are traumatic events that can range from physical and emotional to sexual abuse.

In Bulgaria, the rights of the child are protected by national law. Unfortunately, however, this is not enough. In cases of violence, the response of the child protection system is not always swift and effective. There is a lack of synchronization between child welfare providers, teachers, police and other child care services. There is often a lack of the right approach due to a shortage of trained specialists.

The solution

The solution to this problem is to increase the capacity of the responsible services through training of the professionals working there, as well as coordination between them. The Strengthen project provides for 28 regional trainings in all regional centers in the country, which will cover workers in social services, psychologists, police officers, teachers, mediators, etc. The trainings will form knowledge, skills and attitudes among professionals from different units in the child protection system to apply a strengths-based approach to supporting children victims of violence, as well as to use certain restorative justice methods to resolve family conflicts that threaten the safety of the child.

The program provides for the development of learning modules for professionals from social services, police and education, as well as an approach to learning through doing. The project partners will engage experts on children's rights with serious international experience to support the development of the training program.

Expected results

The main expected outcome is enhanced cooperation between the different units of the national child protection system, as well as an improved understanding of the long-term impact of adverse childhood experiences on the lives of children and young people. Those who have received the training should support at least 1000 children at risk within the project.

The project will contribute to increasing the effectiveness of the child protection system in Bulgaria and changing public attitudes and building zero tolerance to child abuse.

The project also envisages the development of an impact assessment tool. It will be implemented 6 months after the completion of the first trainings in order to assess their short-term impact.