ARK: Our enduring legacy in Bulgaria


Our enduring legacy in Bulgaria

Ark provided a model for foster care - now being rolled out by UNICEF across eight regions

When Ark started its programme in Bulgaria, the country had the highest rate of infant institutionalisation in Europe, with some 15,000 children living in large-scale institutions. It is estimated that only 2-4% of these children are actually orphans.

In 2006, Ark signed a partnership agreement to implement a deinstitutionalisation programme in the municipality of Stara Zagora, home to the highest number of institutionalised children in the country.

This was the first time the government had explicitly committed to the planned closure of an institution and marked a huge breakthrough for Ark and the future of childcare in Bulgaria.

Our mission

Ark recognised that changing the culture of children in care needed social service providers and Child Protection Departments to develop and manage effective, alternative, non-institutional care services.

Three key programme objectives were established:

Demonstrate the closure of institutions through developing and implementing models of alternative care services

Strengthen prevention work through developing and implementing a model of integrated services to reduce the number of children at risk of being institutionalised or abandoned

Establish strategic partnerships for meaningful change.