Early childhood development


Early Childhood Development


Investing in early childhood care is key to ensuring the best start in life for all children, promoting their full personal development, and breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty. Therefore, it is extremely important to implement a complex approach in the care of children at an early age and to develop integrated services for supporting children and parents, which will assist the measures taken to prevent the abandonment of children and provide opportunities for their upbringing in family.

In accordance with the implemented policies to support children and families, a network of services has been established, which serves as an example of integrated approach for provision of early childhood development services, directed to information and counselling of parents, risks prevention, including early childhood services for disability intervention, services for better coverage and improvement of children's preparedness for inclusion in the education system, etc. Combining the health, education and social elements in a single service, the results of the Social Inclusion Project (SIP), which was implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy in the period 2010-2015 with World Bank funding, are extremely useful and fundamental. The project supported Bulgaria's efforts to develop and implement an integrated policy for early childhood development. In order to continue the activities of the services created under the SIP, since the beginning of 2016, the Operation "Services for Early Child Development" was implemented, financed under the Operational Program "Human Resources Development" 2014-2020. After the operation is completed, sustainability of the established services will be ensured with state funding.




Social Inclusion Project




Our effortsto develop and implement integrated policies for early childhood development are supported by the Social Inclusion Project (SIP), funded with Loan No.7612BG from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) in the amount of € 31,391,644 (61 396 719 BGN). The project was implemented in the period 2010 - December 31, 2015. SIP beneficiaries are 66 municipalities. Anetwork of integrated services for early childhood development is built under the project by applying innovative and cross-sectoral model to support children in early childhood and their families. The project aims at preventing social exclusion and reducing child poverty by investing in early childhood development. By improving the school readiness of children and support for the formation of parenting skills in the vulnerable parent groups the project also aims to limit inter-generational transmission of poverty.


The project has two components:


Component 1. Integrated social and childcare services – EURO 30.74m


Subcomponent 1.1. Services for children aged 0-3 and their parents


Subcomponent 1.2. Services for children aged 3-7 and their parents


Subcomponent 1.3. Infrastructure and material investments in services for children


Subcomponent 1.4. Training for social service providers and kindergarten and nursery staff


Component 2. Capacity-building EURO 0.55m


Subcomponent 2.1. Improving the capacity of local authorities to implement integrated early childhood development projects by providing technical consultations, including for access to the EU structural and cohesion funds.


Subcomponent 2.2. Provision of project audit financing, including for audits of sub-projects and inspection of sites with construction works


The basic services for children aged 0-3 and their parents include:


1. Formation and development of parenting skills


2. Early intervention of disabilities by creating a Centre for Early Intervention of Disabilities


3. Family counselling and support


4. Health consultation


5. Day care for children


6. Full or partial compensation of the nursery fee


The basic services for children aged 3-7 and their parents include:


1. Integration of children in kindergartens and pre-school groups


2. Full or partial compensation of the kindergarten fee


3. Screening of children’s development


4. Family counselling and support


5. Health consultation


6. Family centres for children aged 3-7.


7. Additional training for school readiness


SIP has created excellent conditions for the provision of early childhood development services. Major construction works have been carried out, the necessary furniture and equipment (including specialised medical and sports equipment) for the provision of the services has been delivered, as well as 44 specialised buses for transportation of children and persons with disabilities.


More than 1300 specialists have been recruited for the provision of the services under SIP (including paediatricians, psychologists, speech therapists, social workers, special pedagogues, gynaecologists, medical nurses, midwifes, pedagogues, jurists and mediators) as well as 19 social service providers licensed to provide social services for children.


Beneficiaries of SIP services are exceed 20 000 in total, including children and their parents. Total 1867 new places in kindergartens and nurseries have been opened in 31 municipalities (184 places in nursery and 1683 in kindergarten groups).


In the summer of 2015, the beneficiary municipalities tested the school readiness of children from vulnerable groups enrolled in kindergartens as a result of the Social Inclusion Project. The test results are very good – the success rate is 80%.


The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, through the direct grant procedure BG05M9ОP001-2. 004 “Services for Early Childhood Development” under OP HRD 2014-2020, has enabled all 66 beneficiary municipalities of the Social Inclusion Project, after the project completion, to continue from the beginning of 2016 the activities within the established services, thereby preserving the staff recruited and trained under SIP and ensuring that the needs of the children and families using the services are met.


The direct grant procedure BG05M9ОP001-2. 004 “Services for Early Childhood Development” is financed under Priority Axis 2 “Reducing Poverty and Promoting Social Inclusion”, Investment Priority 3: “Enhancing access to affordable, sustainable and high-quality services, including health care and social services of general interest”, Specific Objective 3 under IP3: “Reducing the number of children and youth placed in institutions, by providing community-based social and health services” under Operational Programme “Human Resources Development” 2014-2020. Up-to-date information is available at: http://esf.bg/procedures/bg05m9op001-2-004-%D1%83%D1%81%D0%BB%D1%83%D0%B3%D0%B8-%D0%B7%D0%B0-%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%BD%D0%BE-%D0%B4%D0%B5%D1%82%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%BE-%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B7%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B8%D0%B5/