Almost half of Bulgarian children (43.7 per cent, or 527,200 children) live at risk of poverty or social exclusion (UNICEF, 2017). These children are severely disadvantaged and as such many end up in residential care where social care provision cannot fully meet their needs.
ZOV has been supporting hundreds of disadvantaged children since 2006 and for us it is all about impact and changing lives. From early 2014, ZOV played a crucial role in supporting the state’s policy of deinstitutionalization. This has involved closing larger, overcrowded, under-funded and poorly-staffed orphanages and creating smaller children’s homes. Closing these larger institutions down was a huge step forward for Bulgaria in its welfare approach towards orphaned and disabled children. However smaller homes often face similar problems to large orphanages: they are under-resourced and are not able to meet the children’s needs. Children are still being separated from their families (UNICEF,2017). The need for help is as great as ever and we want the children to have access to the same opportunities as other Bulgarian children
HOW WE ARE DIFFERENT
ZOV offers long-term and continued support for disadvantaged children, and has consistently provided educational, social, physical and psychological activities for over ten years. We work with the children at each stage of their development, tailoring our activities to meet their needs. We provide ongoing support to the centers we work with, as the majority receive little or no external support. This continuous support enables the children to go on to lead happier, more fulfilled lives, unrestricted by the difficulties of their past. We don’t stop supporting the children until they become independent and secure – even after they have left institutional care. We also work throughout the entire care system so our impact reaches beyond the children we work with. ZOV also now works with Schools and Day Centres to help prevent children going into care and to make sure those children at risk are being supported.
We have won a total of 17 national and local awards for our work.
“Other organisations should learn how ZOV helps children and how to be consistent and sustainable, supporting not only the children but the whole child protection system” Rositsa Dimitrova, Deputy Minister of Social Care, Bulgaria
“You are amazing, more organisations should learn from ZOV’s example” Director of National Civil Education Academy Ruman Ranchev
- Thank you for everything. You are our best friend and never stop helping us, I don’t know what we would do without ZOV” Mrs Grigorova director of Penyo and Maria Centres for Children Deprived of Parental Care