For Our Children Foundation presents research on Early Childhood Development in Bulgaria at a major national conference

Participants united behind the need for adopting a national strategy for early childhood development, which would give impetus to much needed reform in the ECD area.

Ivanka Shalapatova with Deputy Ministers

On 15 March 2018, For Our Children Foundation organised the conference "Vision for Early Childhood in Bulgaria", which was attended by more than 150 representatives of national and local authorities, the academic community, international experts, professional and non-governmental organisations. The conference was held under the patronage of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria Maya Manolova, who expressed her conviction that early childhood development is the most important investment that allows us to shape our future and the future of our country. Participants united behind the need for adopting a national strategy for early childhood development, which would give impetus to much needed reform in the ECD area. It is expected that the strategic goals and vision of this strategy would be defined by the end of the year.

At the forum For Our Children Foundation presented the results of a large-scale research study "Early Child Development in Bulgaria", which studies the impact of the health, social and educational systems on early childhood development. The study was carried out in 2017 by a research team from For Our Children Foundation, the Association “Child and Space” and the Institute for Population and Human Studies at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Participants in the conference discussed the key recommendations made by the research team to improve the performance of the systems around the child.

The role of early childhood education and care policies in the European Union was presented in the keynote speech by Nora Milotay, who is a political analyst at the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), working on European social policy issues. Ms Milotay emphasised the importance of ECD for stable, cohesive and more equal societies.

Participants also heard from Professor Veronika Ispanovic on the experience of Serbia in developing integrated early childhood development systems and services. Prof. Ispanovic is a member of the National Council on the Rights of the Child and the working groups that developed the National Program for Promoting Early Childhood Development and the National Strategy on Violence against Children in Serbia.

The conference was also attended by the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy Rositsa Dimitrova, the Deputy Minister of Education Denitsa Sacheva, the Deputy Minister of Health Dr Boyko Penkov, the UNICEF Representative for Bulgaria Maria Jesus Conde and several Ambassadors to Bulgaria.

“For all of us, it is clear that investing in early childhood development is the present and future of Bulgaria, Europe and the entire international community. With our presence here and the support from our partners - the municipalities, the national and international NGOs, we reaffirm our readiness to put together a national strategy for early childhood development”, Deputy Minister Dimitrova said.

“Investments in early childhood development have a significant impact on the future of children, the present of their parents and the social and economic wellbeing of the whole society”, said Deputy Minister Sacheva.

Read the executive summary of the research report in English