For many years FICE Bulgaria has been active in the field of juvenile justice and trying to bring about positive legislative changes for children in conflict with the law. In the past years FICE Bulgaria has realized several projects aimed at providing better correctional and educational services for children placed in Socio-pedagogical boarding schools and Correctional boarding schools(residential services for children in conflict with the law). The current law was adopted more than 60 years ago and the measures it provides are outdated and no longer effective.
At the moment a new law is proposed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice and is being discussed by the broad publicity. The Ombudsman of Bulgaria organized a discussion with the participation with all of the concerned institutions and many NGOs working in the field. This is undoubtedly a positive development. Although the newly proposed law also shows a development in a positive direction, there are still some problematic issues that need to be more specifically defined in the law. FICE Bulgaria participated in the discussion and took a very strong position, regarding the quality of the care and the effectiveness of the measures, as well as the qualification and specialization of the professionals working in these services.
FICE Bulgaria developed and sent to all stakeholders a statement with concrete proposals for changes in the new law. It was also published on the website of FICE Bulgaria. Briefly, the proposals include.
Clear standards about the number of children placed in residential services for children in conflict with the law – not more than 10 children, placed in a family-type center. Each small group center should consist of a kitchen, living room, separate bedrooms for all children
In the past the Ministry of Education was in charge of the boarding schools for children in conflict with the law. The new law says that the Ministry of Education will be in charge of the new residential services for youth in conflict with the law. According to FICE Bulgaria, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy should be in charge of them. Also, there should be a legal possibility for NGOs to provide such services in the form of public–private partnership
There should be more and various services, including mobile services, as well as different types of centers. These services should all be community-based.
There should be higher requirements regarding the qualifications of all professionals working on cases of children in conflict with the law.
FICE Bulgaria will continue its efforts to make a positive change in the system of juvenile justice in Bulgaria.