Trend: The number of Bulgarians who would become foster parents is decreasing
63% of Bulgarians would not become foster parents under any circumstances, and every sixth child would be accepted at home if they received a salary and child support from the state. This is shown by data from a nationally representative survey commissioned by the National Foster Care Association. The survey was conducted in December 2020 by Trend Agency. The data confirm the trend that has been observed in recent years- interest in foster care reduces. Experts link this trend to the serious attack on the rights of the child and the family by various religious and political communities, as well as to the false news related to child protection in our country.
51% of Bulgarians have the opinion that children abandoned by their parents are placed in foster care, that every fourth child in foster care is a victim of violence, and for 14% of our compatriots’ children in foster families are placed by the state there due to poverty. These data to some extent confirm the official statistics - the largest share of children placed in foster care are victims of poor care and neglect, including violence. In our country the number of really abandoned children, as well as those without parents, is gradually decreasing.
Asked under what conditions they would become foster parents, the Bulgarians set a condition to receive a salary and child support from the state. This is not uncommon and has been confirmed by a series of sociological studies over the years. The paradox is that in the public space the main criticism of foster care is that it receives financial remuneration for work, and at the same time this is the leading motive for our compatriots to become foster parents, experts say. Only 10 percent of those who declared their desire to become foster parents do not set any conditions, according to the survey data.
1738 children are raised in 1947 foster families, according to data from the Social Assistance Agency. Nearly 10 percent of the children in foster care have. Most of the children are brought in school age (6-14 years) - 647 and babies and children up to 3 years - 548. The tendency continues for 80% of the children in foster families to be placed in foster care from a family environment where they are have been the object of poor care, violence or abuse. Regarding the future after foster care - most children in our country, half in foster care, are adopted (52%), and every fifth returns to the family or to relatives and friends when there is an improvement in life. 70% of the children in foster families stay in the foster family for an average of 1 year, and the older ones - up to 5 years, according to the data of the Social Assistance Agency.
In every fifth approved foster family there is still no child placed, the data analysis also shows. The highest number of families withoutsettled childrenare in the districts of Targovishte and Kardzhali, where half of the approved foster parents do not care for children. Despite the acute shortage of foster parents in Sofia, 19 percent of approved families do not care for children.
Adoptive care in our country is currently the only alternative to the life in a social institution for children. Since 2011 foster care in Bulgaria is funded by European funds, under a project, and from 2021 the salaries of foster parents and child support are financed from the national budget. However, the problem with the social security of the foster families in our country remains - even those who want to take care of an abandoned child have the opportunity to do so only under a civil contract for the period of placement, without the right to sickness, unemployment, maternity insurance, etc. This has a very demotivating effect on young people and people with professions. For this reason, the foster parents in our country are mainly middle-aged, the analyzes also show.