Bulgaria ON AIR shared a video interview with Evgeniya Toneva from the Center for the Alternative Care for Children at NBU. In the interview, Evgeniya Toneva notes that there are only 21 social care homes in Bulgaria that still need to be deinstitutionalized, while there were 140 at the beginning of the process. A study showed that 25% of Bulgarians would not take a child from these homes to a family lunch, while around 50% do not agree that these children should study in the same class as their own child. Due to these grave prejudices in our society, the process of deinstitutionalization has been going on for 10 years, but is nearing its end within the coming year.
The unfolding of this process is exceeding expectations as the deadline for de-institutionalization in Bulgaria was set as 2025, but according to Evgeniya Toneva the remaining 21 homes will be closed by the end of 2020. Ironically, the aforementioned study also showed that 95% of people approve of deinstitutionalization, but accepting children from social care homes in their personal lives is a challenge. Toneva emphasizes that most of these children are "talented, emotional and experiencing the same things as ours in their communication in the kintergarden and at school", but because of everything they have gone through, they have obstacles within which hinder them to function in a way that our society considers "normal". Because of this, Evgeniya notes that the full integration of these children requires them to be met with empathy, not pity.