Roundtable on the Creation of a National Strategy for Early Childhood Development in Bulgaria

Eurochild’s member, For Our Children Foundation advocates for more support to children in the earliest age and their families and for the introduction of an integrated approach in Bulgaria’s legislation.

The main principles for the creation of the first national strategy for early childhood development to unify the efforts of all interested parts in the creation and the implementation of policies for child support and protection were discussed on 9 March 2017 during the roundtable “From policies to outcomes – ECD services in the spotlight”. 

Representatives of the National Association of the Municipalities in Republic of Bulgaria, UNICEF, National Network for Children, European Commission, The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Bulgaria and more than 50 experts of the non-government sector, key institutions and local authorities took part in the forum.

This roundtable was dedicated to the youngest Bulgarian citizens – children in the early age, and to the policies related to early childhood and the achievement of specific results from these policies, said at the opening of the forum Ivanka Shalapatova – Executive Director of the foundation. “The mortality among children up to 1 year in the country is still much higher than the EU average and its rate has increased for the first time in many years. 

Nearly 44% of Bulgarian children live at risk of poverty and social exclusion, and the number of children in public care remains high. According to the targets agreed between EU member states in Barcelona, the 95% of children between 4 years-old and the age of entry into primary school should be in forms of early education and care; in Bulgaria this rate is 86.6%. I am deeply concerned about the statistic for the range of children aged 0 to 3 attending early education and care. Although the agreed European target of 33%, in Bulgaria it is only 7%. This means that our country is in a very difficult situation, for the solution of which we need serious human energy and engagement above the usual responsibilities we have”, said Ms Shalapatova.

Early childhood development is a leading priority for the World Bank due to the great amount of evidence, which clearly show that it is the key to a person’s success in later life. Each dollar invested in early childhood development has a gain of 6 to 17 dollars, and among the youngest children the return on investment reaches 25%, said the representative of The World Bank – Bulgaria Tony Thompson.

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Since April 2016, the foundation is implementing the project “Care in the Early Age”, with funding from the Oak Foundation. The main purpose of the project is to improve the development and well-being of children in the early age (0-7 years) by developing integrated socio-health approaches towards the care for the children.

Click here to visit the website of the For Our Children Foundation.