Bulgarians would become foster parents against salary and child support – something foster parents are blamed for
Half of the Bulgarians would entrust their children to foster parents if an incident occurs with them, shows a national poll
A false attitude has been created in society that foster parents are raising children just for the sake of money. A national survey conducted by the Trend Research Center in September 2017, commissioned by the National Foster Care Association NFCA, supported by Mtel, shows that 33% of unemployed Bulgarians and 31% of average wage earners would become foster parents if they receive salary and support for this. The study confirms the conclusion that the Bulgarians would become foster parents against salary and support for the children they take care of - something that the foster parents are accused of. The survey also shows that 23% of university graduates and 23% of secondary school graduates would become foster parents if they receive salary and support.
The study was presented at a press conference in Sofia, where the foster parents Miroslav Dolapchiev, Maria Blagoeva, Ginka Ilieva, Vanya Zhekova and Elena Atanassova took part.
According to the data, 4% of Bulgarians would become foster parents (nearly 220,000 Bulgarians). They are mostly people between aged between 41 and 60 who have raised their own children, with a personal income between BGN 500 and 1000, residing mainly in district and small towns.
Bulgarians would become foster parents if they do not take care of children with disabilities, if they have enough time to get to know the child and about 10 per cent if they choose the child's ethnicity. 76% of Bulgarians consider that children deprived of parental care should be accommodated in foster families rather than in social institutions. Conditionally half a million Bulgarians still believe that the place of children at risk is in institutions.
67% of Bulgarians and 70% of those living in district towns, mainly highly educated, associate foster care with temporary placement of children deprived of parental care in foster families. It can be concluded that the National Foster Care Association, together with Mtel, has also contributed to the high awareness of the foster care community.
24% of Bulgarians associate foster care with care for abandoned children, 11% perceive it as a temporary care for children in a family environment, 9% define it as a type of job for the unemployed. Other associations with smaller shares: "people who love and care for children who are suffering", "responsible people", "goodhearted people", "people who have the will and the ability to help children."
11% of Bulgarians do not know what foster care is, and 8% think that foster care is adoption of a child (one of the interpretations of this fact may be that they know adoptive foster parents or know stories of adopted children in foster families).
The survey also shows that trust in foster care is relatively good - 50% of Bulgarians would entrust their children to foster families in case of an accident.
Nearly 40% of Bulgarians support refugee children to be raised in foster families. There is no mass support for foster care for children with disabilities (36% of Bulgarians cinsider children with disabilities have to live in a social home), foster care for the mothers (only 27% approve foster care for young mothers and their babies) , minor offenders (only 35% approve these children being in foster care). 43% of Bulgarians agree that abandoned Roma children should be placed in foster care rather than in homes.
The most important criteria, according to the Bulgarians, which candidates for foster parents should meet are: to love the children (17%), to be a good person, with a good heart, noble (12%), responsible (10%) only 4th is the candidate to be materially/financially secured (8%).
According to the study, 74% approve Mtel's foster care investment, mainly university graduates, with incomes between 500 and 1000 leva, living mainly in district towns.
"We, foster parents, know that it is sometimes difficult for their families to keep their children. And that's why we are here - the alternative for these children who should otherwise be left in insitutions. We are sure there should be support for parents who have difficulties to keep their child with them. But most families of our foster children are given a chance. Moreover, as soon as they are in our homes, nothing is over and if there is a change, the children can go home to their mom and dad. The truth, however, is different. Not poverty, but poor care, neglect, violence and lack of parenting skills are the reason for children to be in foster care", said NFCA chairman Miroslav Dolapchiev, who is a voluntary foster parent.
"The professional foster parent is remunerated according to a civil service contract because of the lack of a legal basis for an employment contract that reflects 24-hour work, work from home and, overall, the specifics of foster care", explained Ginka Ilieva, a foster parent and member of the NFCA Management Board. "It is incorrect to mechanically multiply the pay by the number of foster children, since for the raising of one child the gross remuneration is BGN 690, and after taxation - net BGN 548,50, ie. BGN 0.80 per hour, for two children the foster parent receives 160% of the minimum wage and for three - 170% of the minimum wage. In contrast, foster parents are not entitled to take leave, to hospital, to unemployment benefits, to withdraw credits from banks or to buy goods on leasing, and they work in the 24 hour / 7 days / 365 days regime", added Ginka Ilieva.
"The statistics published by the media regarding 442 children out of foster families for bad care" is incorrect, as it is a mechanical sum of data of deleted from the register foster parents and respectively the children, taken out of their families”, added Mariya Blagoeva, a foster parent from Sofia and Deputy Chair of the NFCA. She explained that detailed statistics on the reasons for deletion from the register is not kept, so it is impossible to draw such a conclusion. "Children taken out of foster care are quite likely to be adopted, returned to their families or accommodated in other foster families. And the deleted foster parents may have renounced themselves, died, have a permanent illness or are outside the country or settlement", said the deputy chairman of the NFCA.
According to the Social Assistance Agency, by the end of November 2017 the foster families in the country are 2215, mostly in the districts of Varna (146), Veliko Tarnovo (138), Pleven and Shumen (134) Montana (131), Haskovo (123), Pazardzhik (120). The least foster families are in Sofia-District (21), Silistra (23), Kardzhali (30), Lovech (42), Burgas (45), Kyustendil (52) and Sofia-city (55). The professional foster parents are 2206, and the volunteers are 9 (one in Blagoevgrad, Burgas and Varna, two in Gabrovo, one in Pazardzhik, two in Sofia-city and one in Yambol).
By the end of October 2017, 2103 children were accommodated in foster families. 2016 of them are healthy and 162 are disabled. Most are children aged 6 to 14 years (823, including 83 of them with disabilities). Children from 0 to 3 years old are 673, of whom 16 are disabled. 4 children are accommodated in voluntary foster families and the rest are in professional. There are no children accommodated in 5 volunteer and 499 foster families. The most vacant foster families are in Stara Zagora (41% of the approved foster families for the district) and in Targovishte (40.8%).