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The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) is an organization 
fighting for the right of people with disabilities to be included in the society. 

Recently, laws about the placement of children and adults with disabilities 
in institutions have changed in Bulgaria. 

They closed 8 institutions for children under the age of 3.

They replaced these institutions with new residences where nurses and 
doctors are present all the time.

ENIL says that this is not a real change because it is still an institution. 

Bulgaria should help people with disabilities to live on their own or 
with their family and not in institutions. 

 

European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) is denouncing the “re-institutionalization” happening in Bulgaria.

The Bulgarian government has announced modifications in the laws regulating the placement of children and adults with disabilities in “Family-type Residential Centers”. Eight institutions for children under the age of 3 have been closed under the initiative “Family Project” implemented by the Ministry of Health. “Family-type residential centers” with constant presence of nurses and doctors have been created to replace these institutions.

Institutionalization is harmful to the emotional, physical, intellectual and social development of the child and children under the age of 3 are particularly vulnerable. European guidelines encourage transition from institution to community-based care. Deinstitutionalization and community-based services imply the separation of the place of residence from the place where services are provided. Actually, the Bulgarian government announcement only depicts a change in the formulation but the services, operated by nurses and doctors, remain at the place of residence. Therefore, Bulgaria does not seem to meet up with the requirement.

Indeed, what the Bulgarian government is trying to present as deinstitutionalization appears to only be a change in the size and location of the institutions. Surprisingly, this “Family Project” implemented by the Bulgarian Ministry of Health is part of the 2007-2013 Human Resources Development Organizational Programme funded by the European Social Fund. Yet, deinstitutionalization of adults and children with disabilities is actually one of the European Social Fund’s objectives, in line with the Europe 2020 programme.

Deinstitutionalization does not mean closure of institutions but it requires a transition from an archaic model of residential institutions to community-based or family-type care and the development of new services. Bulgaria’s proposition is not a genuine alternative.