The Child Friendly Municipalities initiative (“Община – приятел на детето”) in Bulgaria was launched in 2009 as a joint effort between UNICEF and a civil society organization “Association Parents”, member of the National Network for Children, in partnership with the National Association of Municipalities in Republic of Bulgaria and the State Agency for Child Protection to the Council of Ministers.
Following a comprehensive assessment process based on an adapted by UNICEF Bulgaria methodology, the local governments interested in the initiative must assess their capacities and show their readiness to actively engage in the improving of the well-being of children in their municipality.
Local governments selected by UNICEF agree to support child focused strategies and approaches, respecting the needs of children and encouraging child participation. Each municipality sets up a team with a coordinator (usually a deputy mayor) and an expert. The Municipal Council approves the decision of the municipality to be part of the initiative. In the year following local elections, each member municipality conducts a self-assessment and issues a declaration reaffirming the commitment to improving child-friendliness.
In 2010, UNICEF established an informal network in which all the child-friendly municipalities participate. The network is supported by UNICEF to exchange good practices, mobilize around common challenges, realize joint initiatives and defend and lobby for child rights at the national level.
The initiative has pushed for results for children at the local level, including inclusion of all children up to 5 years old in free pre-school education, targeted budgeting for children and child participation in decision making at the local level. Currently, 20 municipalities participate in the initiative, including the capital city Sofia.
• Veliko Tarnovo
• Gotze Deltchev
• Gorna Oriahovitza
• Stara Zagora
• Pavel Banja
• Valchi Dol