The social care home for disabled children in the Rousse village of Mogilino met only one of the 26 standards outlined in existing regulations, an investigation carried out by Bulgaria's State Agency for Child Protection (SACP) at the request of the Supreme Cassation Prosecution Office found, SACP child rights control directorate chief Bistra Petrova told Parliament on March 6, as quoted by mediapool.bg.
This was the first time a Bulgarian official acknowledged that the care provided at the Mogilino home did not meet legal requirements, with state institutions previously putting in a lot of effort to disprove the authors of a documentary that showed how the condition of the children living at the home was getting worse as a result of the lack of adequate care. The home became infamous not only in Bulgaria, but throughout Europe as well, after BBC4 screened its Bulgaria's Abandoned Children documentary in September 2007.
The check at the Mogilino home resulted in an explicit recommendation that it needed to be closed down along with another six similar institutions.
The children, youth and sports affairs committee committee of Parliament, however, responded in a familiar and inefficient fashion, mediapool.bg said. Committee chair Vassil Ivanov-Luciano proposed that an inter-institutional contact group be created to work on the activity of all social care homes in the country.
According to Luciano's proposal, the group would be made up of representatives from the Justice Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Labour and Social Policy Ministry, the Education Ministry, the Health Ministry, SACP and the State Agency for Youth and Sports.
Despite the findings of the SACP investigation, Mogilino village mayor Dimitar Dimitrov told the committee that the facilities at the home met all requirements, once again voicing his fear that if the home was shut down, that would leave 60 people from the village, who are now working there, unemployed.
Mogilino home director Pavlina Iordanova also argued against shutting down the facility, saying that a medical check-up of the children showed that some of them would not be able to adapt to new surroundings if they were moved, mediapool.bg reported. She asked for at least some of the children to remain in the home, which, if necessary, could be transformed into a "small group home".
Rousse municipality does not want the children either, with city hall secretary Valentin Hristov asking the committee's members not to rush with closing down the home and with moving the children to the Rousse municipality because this would have only been "a geographical solution to the problem who mainly concerns the care provided for the children," mediapool.bg quoted him as saying.
Rousse municipality Valentin Hristov asked the MPs not to shut down the Mogilino home, even though the city hall was prepared to grant terrain, but pointed out the opposition of residents from the city's Sredna kula neighbourhood, which has been touted as the likeliest destination of children from Mogilino. Moving the children to Rousse would only worsen the situation because of the hostile environment they would be thrown into, he added.
The committee meeting came just two days after the European Parliament held a debate that lasted more than three hours following the screening of a shortened version of the documentary.
Although Kathy Sinnott, the independent Irish member of European Parliament who proposed the screening, had said it should not be interpreted as an attack on Bulgaria, it was perceived precisely that way, with Bulgarian MEPs trying to divert the focus on the need for a new European Union-wide strategy on disabled children care.
Dimitar Stoyanov, from nationalist Ataka, went as far as to accuse Ireland and the UK of pouring out their hatred on a fellow EU member state interfering with its domestic affairs.