Ivan is finally reunited with his dad after spending two years in an orphanage without love

Where we work Bulgaria

Hope and Homes for Children has been working across Bulgaria since 2009 – we were involved with the first closure of an institution in the country. The Bulgarian branch of Hope and Homes for Children was officially established in November 2011.

There are currently just over 200 children left in orphanages – we’re working to close all of them by 2025.

What we do

Closing orphanages

Working alongside the Bulgarian Government, we are in the process of closing the final 4 institutions in the country by 2025. This is the deadline according to the national strategy ‘Vision for the deinstitutionalisation of children in Bulgaria’.

As part of our work to close orphanages, in 2022 we conducted individual re-assessments of all remaining 200 children in the institutions in Bulgaria. Our aim was to find the best possible alternatives to institutions for these children based on their needs – whether that was back with their families, or in family-type care settings. We did this to prepare each child so they would have a smooth transition out of orphanages when they closed.

Training social workers

Our specialist training has reached over 2,600 social workers and other child protection professionals across the country, helping to support the deinstitutionalisation process and ensuring children’s needs are always put first. 

It was the happiest day of my life, when I took my boy back

Stoyan, Ivan’s dad

Preventing family breakdown

Our ‘Active Family Support Model’ is a key component of our holistic approach to closing institutions and helping families – identifying children at risk of being separated from their parents and supporting those families to stay together. The Model was developed by us, based on 20 years of practical experience. We also use it to reintegrate children with their biological or extended families.

To date, we have successfully prevented 2,307 children from being abandoned/ placed in institutions, traced and reintegrated 211 children with their families, and closed 25 institutions for children aged 0-3.

Developing alternative care

In addition to pioneering training for foster families who look after children with disabilities, we have successfully influenced the Bulgarian Government to develop a range of alternative care services. We have worked closely with government and civil society in the creation of relevant policies, service standards and national action plans to underpin and consolidate reform of the child protection system. 

Finding individual solutions

We have established 21 District DI Coordination Mechanisms (DDCIMs) across the districts we work in. You can find out more about DDCIMs here.

Our work in numbers

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

orphanages left in Bulgaria

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

social workers and child protection experts trained

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

children and families supported through our programmes

Our impact

Since 2009 we have closed 26 institutions and helped reduce the number of babies and young children confined in institutions across Bulgaria by over 90%. There were around 2,400 children in 32 institutions for children aged 0-3 when Hope and Homes for Children started working in Bulgaria. There are now just over 200 children left in 4 remaining institutions for children aged 0-3. 

Last updated: January 2023

“It was terrible for Ivan.”

Ivan was taken from his dad, Stoyan, when he was just three years old. Because he has cerebral palsy and his dad is a single parent, the authorities had decided Ivan would be better off in an orphanage. But orphanages do not protect children; they harm them.

Read Ivan and Stoyan's story

Get in touch

If you’d like to contact our team in Bulgaria, please contact our central office on [email protected]