Date: 08-11-2021

For Our Children has Published “Bulgaria Grows with its Children” Study

Recent European studies show that quality of education and care in the early childhood depends on the presence of a professional and competent workforce. As part of their research on early childhood development, ISSA Member, For Our Children Foundation has conducted a study which focuses on professionals working with young children and their families in the health, education and social systems in Bulgaria.

The research study, Bulgaria grows with its children: Building professional competences of the early childhood workforce, was carried out in 2020 by a team of For Our Children Foundation with the support of the Active Citizens Fund of Bulgaria.

The topic of people working directly with children and families in the health, education and social work stands out when looking for sustainable solutions to challenges faced in early childhood care and education. More and more, European policies highlight the importance of education, motivation and support for the workforce. This topic is even more important in Bulgaria given the workforce shortage in these sectors as well as the low indicators of reach of healthcare, early childhood education and care, and social protection to children.

With this in mind, the goal of ‘Bulgaria grows with its children’ is to outline the main directions for improvement of the professionalisation of the early years workforce, as well as to formulate recommendations for policy development in this area.

The report outlines policies and measures aimed at the development of the workforce, including initial education, professional development and working conditions, as well as presents data from the experience of 461 specialists working directly with children and families.

The research among professionals working with children reveals the need for targeted measures to upgrade the competencies of professionals, both in their initial education and continuing professional development. With regard to working conditions, the study shows that professionals who are dedicated to the care, health, education and development of children deserve to work in an environment that supports their professional development and provides secure and motivating working conditions. Their knowledge, skills and competences are key for the wellbeing of the children and hence for preparing a strong future of the nation. It is of particular importance that state policies should ensure the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies of the workforce as well as dignified working conditions. This is the enabling environment for professionals to work in partnership with parents and help them cope with difficulties in the upbringing and development of their children.

One of the main conclusions of the research team is that the lack of a comprehensive, consolidated vision for investment in early childhood development, as a key to our prosperity as a society, has a negative impact on the quality of education and care for young children. It concludes with a call for an integrated modern early childhood development policy with clearly defined roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders and a strategic plan for the provision of quality and accessible services by a motivated and competent workforce.