According to the existing Bulgarian legislation the main instrument for working with children in conflict with the law are the corrective measures of LFASAMU. Their efficiency is a subject of many discussions. One of the measures that is often applied, for example, is the placement of children in Socio-Pedagogical Boarding Institutions (SPBI) and Corrective Boarding Schools (CBS), and this is defined as an “corrective measure”, but in essence it has the characteristics of a criminal procedure. According to data from the SACP for 2009, only from the files of the children placed in SPBI and CBS it is evident that 8,4% of them have been victims of some kind of crime or abuse. “In some of the cases the children need psychological support or medical treatment, and not placement in a boarding institution. The practice reveals a lack of assessment of the individual cases, a lack of competence for conducting such an assessment and “diagnosis” of the real problems that are hidden behind the deviant behaviour of the children”. According to the evaluation of the SACP there is also a lack of methodology for corrective and instructive work, as well as a lack of various kinds of activities that could help for the social inclusion of these children, and could protect their best interest. Most often, the duration of stay of the children in SPBI/CBS is between 2 and 3 years (respectively 39.7% and 38.24% for 2011 and 2012).
Exactly in this regards, the project “Social Inclusion of Children in Conflict with the Law – New Models and Practices” aims to contribute for the social integration of children and youths in conflict with the law through the development and piloting of new specialized services, and thorough an innovative model for supporting children and youths and their families. The project was implemented in the period 2013 – 2015.
Within this project the Social Activities and Practices Institute in collaboration with Associazione di promozione sociale „Il Fiore del deserto” from Italy and “Include Youth” from Northern Ireland developed a model for an innovative service targeted at children in conflict with the law.
The model integrates the best aspects from the practice of the international partners, extended and adapted to the needs of the children in conflict with the law in Bulgaria, as well as to the needs of the professionals that support the children and work with them. It is being approbate in the form of a new service in the CSSCF – Shoumen and CSC – Sofia, and its goal is to contribute to the social integration of children and youths in conflict with the law for their successful social inclusion through the increase of the capacity of the system for youth justice, social protection and social work. A specific goal of the project is that the participation of children in legal procedures be accompanied by procedures that are special, friendly and cautious of the psychology of the child. After the piloting phase the service is also provided in the rest of the social services managed by SAPI in the cities of Sliven – Child and Youth Zone, Vidin and Stara Zagora.
Targeting towards the service
The children and youths in conflict with the law and their families could use the service in the following way:
Since 2013 the service is provided within the framework of Intensive Support, based on a preliminary assessment of the needs and an individual project plan of the child.
Generally, the Intensive Support consists of three components:
At the moment the model is applied in the cases of children in conflict with the law in the services in Sofia, Vidin, Shoumen; we are about to introduce it in Stara Zagora where SAPI will take over the management of the CSC from October 2015 onwards; the model will be fully-developed and extended to a Child and Youth Zone – a complex for services for children in conflict with the law that was started in August 2015 in Sliven, in partnership with UNICEF, Association “Child and Space”, and the International Social Service – Bulgaria.